I would like to introduce you to my sweet friend (and former roommate), Ashley. The more I get to know Ashely, the more amazed I am. I deeply admire her tender heart towards others, her brave openness, and her deep devotion to Jesus. Also, her sense of humor is amazing. Today, Ashley shares with us how the Lord has comforted her and made her a comfort to others in the midst of great grief.
I hopped into the car next to my husband and we started to pull out of the driveway. We were on our way to pick out our Christmas tree. I turned to him with probably the goofiest grin and asked, “Can you believe it will be three of us picking out a tree next year?” He looked at me puzzled and asked, “What?” I repeated my question. He stopped the car and looked at me with wide eyes, asking again, “Wait. What are you saying?” He knew exactly what I was saying. I nodded with tears filling my eyes and that goofy grin turned into a huge smile as I said, “I’m pregnant!”
That year we decorated our tree with excited hearts. Each ornament we hung was paired with smiles and looks of disbelief that I was actually carrying our first child inside me. But just about a month later we were taking down those same ornaments with hurting hearts, tear filled eyes, and looks of disbelief that our first child had died.
Never in my life have I felt grief that intense. Never in my life have I felt so forgotten and alone. Never in my life have I been so angry with God.
And those words about God being in control and that He has a plan for even this started flooding in from well-meaning friends and family. Those words that acknowledged some of the very reasons why I was so angry with God. He was in control. He could have stopped this. This didn’t have to be the plan.
My child died and I became a mother who couldn’t mother her child, a parent who couldn’t parent. I’d pray. I’d yell. I’d whisper through tears the question: Why? Why did he allow this to happen? Why wasn’t I allowed to hold and kiss my baby? Why? I raged at God. Even if He had given an answer for this question it wouldn’t have mattered. What answer would truly be a good enough reason for this? My heart still hurts when I think of my sweet baby who should be about nine months old right now. There are days when I think of her and I feel my heart tighten with anger and sadness and I still ask God, “why?”
In the deepest part of my suffering, going to God with my pain was the last thing I wanted to do. Occasionally I would catch myself shouting at God through tears. These bursts of anger were some of the only prayers I prayed for some time. But, strangely enough, I found myself gradually drawn to learn more about prayer and intercession, though at the time I refused to pray for myself or my pain. I was convinced it wouldn’t do anything to comfort me.
God used books and devotionals to spark a passion for prayer, despite my cynicism. I remember thinking to myself that I enjoyed praying for others so much, but it took a long time to start coming to him again about my own needs. The moment my words turned toward my own grief I became increasingly angry with God. I would shut down. But as time went on he opened my heart to Him again.
He used these books and devotionals to get me to see His command to “ask.” Our God wants us to come to Him with our deepest needs and desires. But I was afraid. I didn’t want to open up to Him about what was on my heart only to be hurt again. He used a well-known passage, a passage that I must have read many times before, to get me to see how important it is to come to God even in our deepest suffering: the Garden of Gethsemane. Through blood, sweat and tears Jesus prayed that his suffering would pass from Him, but that God’s will would be done. Jesus knew his fate. He knew the answer to this prayer that He prayed, but He still prayed. He still went to His Father…asking. Laying out his heart before God while submitting to God’s will was more important in that moment than being spared the suffering.
As I started coming to God with my requests and sharing what was truly on my heart He began to restore the intimacy that I felt was lost. I saw Him meeting me in my tear filled prayers where I released all the things that were heavy on my heart.
Those first nine months of motherhood held some of the most exhausting and painful days of my life. But He meets me in those dark moments. He meets with me in verses, songs, and words from others. He meets with me in silence too. He meets with me in my anger and sorrow. He meets with me when I want nothing to do with Him in the least.
And He draws my yells, and my tears and my broken heart near to Himself. It doesn’t always feel that way. But over time my eyes have been opened to how much God grieves with us. He doesn’t tell us to dust ourselves off and get moving with life because He has a plan for this. He doesn’t tell us that He had a reason for it so it should all be okay now. He lets us cry and yell and ask, “Why? Why? Why?” And He doesn’t dismiss it. He moves closer.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
Motherhood did not start out the way I wanted or planned. Through my suffering, the Lord has softened my heart toward the brokenhearted; and as He pours out His comfort and grace on me I desire more and more to do the same for others. My desire for Heaven grows as I continue to witness God’s grace and glimpses of His kingdom here on earth. And by God’s grace alone He has made me a mother of two children: one who I wait eagerly to hold in Heaven and one who I wait anxiously to hold in my arms in May, God willing.
Our God is a loving Father who draws us close even when we are fighting his embrace with all we have. He grieves with and alongside us, and he does it for a purpose: so that we may be able to grieve with and alongside others with the comfort we have received from Him.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4
**Ashley lives with her wonderful husband, Michael, and her always hungry guinea pig, Barney. She is the mother of two: Levi, who is in Heaven and Edmund, who is due in May. She is a lover of rainy days and a want-to-be foodie who is also a sucker for McDonald’s fries. She writes with her husband on their blog As He Comforts Us.