Phil 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
There are so many verses in the Bible about peace, yet I didn't always understand or experience it. I grew up in Romania and had a great childhood…we were poor, but we didn’t know it and nothing terrible ever really happened to our family…no death or real trials (at least from my perspective as a child). In the last few years, God has shown me just how real He is and how awesome this peace of His is!
My husband, Teo, and I wanted kids almost from the beginning. I never thought that anything would go wrong in this department. In the Romanian culture, you’re taught that you get married and have children early on. I took that for granted. About 4 years into our marriage, I had my first miscarriage around 9 weeks in. It was devastating and really shook my world…made me realize that my plans were not His plans. A few months later, we were overjoyed to be expecting again! I had a very normal, uneventful pregnancy and anticipating the birth of our baby girl due August of 2006. In April of 2006, my worst fears came true when I went into preterm labor at 26 weeks along. I can recall every horrible moment of that night...the panic and emotions, the fear, the understaffed birthing unit that night, pleading with the nurses for help, and the reality that it was too early for her little body to survive outside the womb. Our little Abigail Marie went to be with Jesus that night!
No words can describe the flood of emotions that followed…anger, confusion, sadness, feeling sorry for myself. But as I sat in the hospital bed with our daughter next to us, lifeless, a room full of friends and family looking at us, feeling sorry for us, peace came over me even then, though I was in a bit of shock. The days that followed were even harder…planning a funeral service for her was heartbreaking! Every step and detail of the service just broke my heart…shopping for a little outfit for burial, ordering a casket spray, just being at the funeral service…it was like a nightmare I couldn't wake up from. I felt like this wasn’t real…it wasn’t us walking through this. I never ever imagined that I would bury my little girl and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do!
What was completely amazing and what I will never forget is how the Lord worked at healing my heart. I had never experienced such peace…EVER. It was completely supernatural and it caught Teo and I by surprise. Even a couple weeks after Abigail’s death, we felt somewhat good emotionally and spiritually. We marveled at how quickly our grieving had subsided and that peace we had really did transcend all understanding. I know it sounds crazy, but we almost felt guilty for not grieving longer. We knew this was not normal...not in our flesh. But the Holy Spirit was the great comforter…He just brought to my mind all these verses I’d read over the years that would encourage me throughout my days. Jer. 29:11 says, “ For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Romans 8:28 promises “All things work together for the good of those who love Him.” He also worked through many people, some who we didn't even know, who constantly prayed for us and sent us encouraging messages and for the first time in my life, I saw what the body of Christ looked like and how it is intended to work. God put such a protective covering around us and surrounded us with such love from everyone around us!
He also began a work in me that I did not anticipate. As I struggled to make sense of all this and just asking “Why?” over and over, I felt the Lord ask me “Do you love me?” And I answered “Yes, Lord, I love You”. And again He asked “How much do you love me? Is your love for me conditional? What if my plans for you are not like yours and you will not have children?” I thought and thought about this and just couldn’t give Him an answer. I had always known that His ways are higher than our ways, but I never came face to face with that. I remembered instantly what I had said when I was younger to one of my friends who asked me what was the worst thing that could ever happen to me, that would shake my faith? And I told her it was not being able to have children.
Through weeks that followed, it seemed like every passage I’d read in the Word addressed this issue of surrendering completely to the Lord. Even the bible studies that I did at the time came to this issue. I was doing a study on Abraham and how the Lord was working in his heart…he came to the point where he trusted the Lord so much that he would sacrifice his son. And then I thought, God knows exactly how I feel…He lost a Son…gave him up willingly for me and my sin...He knows all my pain, my sorrow, and He cares about that. But He also wants to know that I love Him more than anything…with all my heart, my soul, my mind. I read a book called “Our Jealous God”, in which the author said something interesting. He said that the Holy Spirit watches the eyes of our hearts like a woman watches the eyes of her husband to see what affections are competing with her. And I knew that this dream of having children was competing with my love for the Lord. Shortly after, in one of our church services, we started singing one of my favorite worship songs, “Blessed Be Your name”. I knew we were coming to the bridge which says “You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name” and I felt as if the Lord was waiting for an answer. It was the moment where I had to decide: do I believe His Word and trust Him that all things work together for my good or do I believe the lies whispered in my ear that God doesn't love me and this is why He withheld this baby girl from me? And in that moment, I completely surrendered to the Lord and gave Him my answer by singing the words of this song to Him. I knew without any doubt that I had to choose to bless His name and praise Him through this. Otherwise, I couldn’t move forward and experience His joy.
The Lord has completely changed my life. I have more joy than I’ve ever had, I know the Lord more deeply, Scripture has just come alive in my life, and my perspective is different…it’s more eternal. I’m so excited for what God is going to do in our lives and through us and to one day see the Lord and my babies who are with Him! The Lord answered our prayer for another baby and we got pregnant again. Eliana Naomi was born May 21st, 2007. We named her Eliana because it means “God has answered me”. She’s been pure joy and continues to bless our hearts every day! In 2009, the Lord blessed us again with our baby boy, Josiah Emanuel! Josiah means "Fire of the Lord" and Emanuel means "God with us!" These names are precious reminders to us of the trials we've endured and how our God was with us every heart-wrenching moment! Lord, help us to never take them for granted! We continue to desire to expand our family and choose to trust Him with this area of our lives. Just this month, we mourned over the passing of another precious baby and experienced a miscarriage at 11 weeks along! But we know this baby, along with all others, are not lost...they are fully alive with the Lord!
We all have a choice in how we respond to our trials. There is always the temptation to allow our hearts to harden towards God and to let bitterness take up root. This only leads to depression, sadness, and hopelessness! There is joy and peace in turning to the Lord for comfort in our grief and there is life...abundant life after death! If you are going through some storms, just know that the Lord knows your pain and He cares about your pain. Blessings will come out of your situation that you cannot foresee. Just choose to trust Him, to praise Him, to love Him, in every circumstance. Ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit and His power to have strength to get through this trusting in Him. Lamentations 3:21-23 says “Therefore I have hope. Through the Lords mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
P.S. If you don't know the love of Jesus and the hope He gives and would like to know more about Him, please talk to a Christian friend or visit a local church or message me! God loves you so much and He desires a relationship with you!