Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Promise Keeper

Have you ever had someone make you a promise and then not follow through?

I admit I've made lots of promises and not followed through with them. Some were inconsequential and probably didn't harm anyone, but I know some have caused people a lot of pain. For example I remember forgetting to return a phone call from a friend (who I had promised "I'll call you back soon!")... only to weeks later find out she had been walking through a dark season and had been incredibly hurt that I hadn't reached out to her like I said I would.

In the midst of a world full of broken promises, there is a truth that never ceases to amaze me - that when God makes a promise he always, completely, and perfectly follows through with that promise. And to make it even more incredible He gave us an entire book full of His promises.

Why on earth would the Creator of the universe promise us anything? He doesn't owe us that. We certainly don't deserve it from Him. But somehow it glorifies Him to lavish love upon us and to draw us into right relationship with Him through His son Jesus Christ.

There have been many situations in my life where God's promises have brought me comfort, have redirected my waywardness, or have reminded me of truth I'd forgotten. But it is through my three pregnancies that God's promises have been spoken into the deepest reaches of my heart - securing me in situations where I would have easily been swept away in fear, doubt, despair and grief.

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My first pregnancy was with Rufflebum. Everything was going along great until our 20 week appointment. Mr. San Antonio and I were excited for the ultrasound that would count fingers and toes and would expose the gender of our first born! After the ultrasound I told him to go ahead and return to work - I would just be a few extra minutes with my doctor and then I'd go back to work too.

The "quick" meeting with the doctor ended up very long... as she sat me down to explain that the ultrasound revealed some problems. Our baby had (what appeared to be) calcification in her abdomen. My doctor had never seen it before, was quite concerned and called a specialist right away. 


For the remainder of the pregnancy we saw a specialist almost every week. Over time they finally determined that the mass we were seeing was scar tissue on her intestine where there had been a hole or a rupture that had been healed. But they were very concerned about potential genetic disorders that had caused the hole and were worried about her irregular heart beat. They weren't sure if she would be born with an obstruction of her intestine or if she'd need surgery on her heart... there were a lot of unknowns, a lot of doctors, and a lot of fear for the safety of our child.

(I only got to hold her less than a minute before she was taken for tests)

Early in this process I cried out to God and asked for a scripture - a promise - that I could cling to for the duration of the pregnancy. Immediately Jeremiah 1:9 was laid on my heart, "Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous, do not be terrified and do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

God wasn't promising that everything would turn out ok. But He was promising to be with me through the process and He was calling me to be brave and to not lose heart.

He also reminded me that he had healed sweet Rufflebum's intestine (hence the scar tissue we saw in the ultrasound) BEFORE we even knew there was a problem. We hadn't even had time to pray for healing - God knew her, he was knitting her together, and he fixed something before the best doctors in town could even detect that there was a problem.

He continued to knit her together and when she was born they determined that her intestine was fine and that the hole in her heart is too small to cause her any issues.

(She is almost two in these photos)

Our second pregnancy was similar. At our 12 week appointment the ultrasound found significant fluid surrounding Burrow's spine especially around her neck. Again we were sent to specialists and in her case were given even more serious news. The amount of fluid was a high indicator of having one of several genetic conditions - all with serious health complications and some with very high probabilities of death before birth.

(Burrow at birth)

Again we went home with heavy hearts prone toward fear and despair. Once again I cried out to God for a promise. A couple nights later I woke up at 4am crying. The words "Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear" came to my mind. I was not familiar with those words and had no idea where they were in the Bible, but I felt peace and fell back to sleep. In the morning I looked them up and sure enough it is a promise in the Bible found in Isaiah 65:24.

(Burrow a couple weeks old)

I clung to that verse for the next several weeks as we waited for test results and asked close friends and family to pray for a miracle. About a month later all the tests came back normal and the fluid had disappeared. Once again God had gone before us. He kept his promise - working to answer our prayers before we had even uttered them.

(Rufflebum kissing Burrow)

So that brings me to pregnancy three. The first couple of months everything was going well. Our first ultrasound showed a strong heartbeat and my all day morning sickness was a great sign. Then one day I started getting very anxious. I began to fear going through another stressful pregnancy... and doubted if I could handle the emotions of that again. I asked God to give me a verse - a promise - that I could cling to for this pregnancy. I expected another encouraging verse about how everything was going to be ok. But instead this is the verse I was given: Psalm 86:13 "For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol."

This is a verse where David was crying out to God and thanking God for saving him from despair. And in that moment God told me - I would experience a lot of hard emotions, but he will not leave me there.

Because of Jesus I can't be left there.

Jesus took on all our sin, all our brokenness, all our sadness, and all our despair when he died on the cross for us. But the story doesn't end with his death - He rose again. He returned from the depths of Sheol (hell). And because Jesus returned from the depths, we also have already been delivered from those depths. Not - we will be delivered, or we may be delivered - but we have already been delivered (past tense!).

It was two weeks later that we found out we had lost the baby.

And this past month has been full of a lot of hard emotions - exactly as God told me there would be. But in them all I have his promise. He has delivered me from the depths - for great is his steadfast love toward me. These emotions are real, they are hard, but I know I won't be here forever. I can have hope and joy (partially in the present - and fully in the future when Christ returns) even in sadness and grief.

If you've never looked at God's promises for you, I encourage you to do so. Start with the book of John. And just ask God to speak to you. He will - He's made that promise:

-Matthew 7:7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."
-John 1:12 "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."

Lots of love,
The Pampered Bird

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for your heartfelt words! I lost my 2nd baby at 32 weeks pregnant. It was devastating. God was there the whole time, and I could feel the days that people prayed for peace for me. I am expecting again! Your journey gives me hope to continue to walk in faith.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing with me Nicole! I'm praying for health and safety for you and baby! :)

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  2. This is truly beautiful. I am sorry for your loss, but I admire your faith and your willingness to share your faith. I'll be thinking of you.

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    1. Thank you Eevi! I hope you're having a wonderful start to your New Year!

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