A Joyous Cross: Remembering Not to Suffer Alone

It’s no secret around here that I want another baby and Dax does not.

In fact, he strongly opposes the idea of adding another little one to our already chaotic lives.

But see that’s why I can so easily say I want another one.  Because he is so adamantly against it.

If I’m honest with myself, while I do want another one, the fear of having another one far outweighs the joyous anticipation of actually having one.

This month I was late. The kind of late that would potentially increase our family size.

It was a roller coaster.  First it was panic.  And worry.  Then it was denial.  Then it was acceptance.  And then it was hope mixed with love.  And then it was all swept away with a stain of blood and my heart was flooded with disappointment.

But the worst part?  There was relief mixed with that disappointment.

Because I am human and broken and scared.

And that’s what makes me sad.

After Katie, I suffered.  There was postpartum depression that had me fooled into thinking I was terribly overwhelmed and inept at being a mom.  It morphed into a thyroid issue that sent all of my hormones raging out of control.  The first three years after Katie were rough.  The good days were rare.  The bad days?  Full of anxiety, panic attacks, fear.

There are no words that describe those years.  And the worst part of all of it was the feeling so alone.  I had a lot of encouragement around me.  Lots of well meaning folks encouraging me to pray and trust in the Lord.  If I would just pray more often, He’d take it all away, they promised.  I was praying and I was trusting and I felt so lonely.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 

This was my hour of suffering with our Lord and yet it felt so terribly lonely.  How could I possibly use Jesus’ own words and yet feel so desperately alone?  Lack of faith?  Lack of prayer?  Lack of love?

It doesn’t work that way.  God doesn’t forsake us.  He NEVER forsakes us.  Forsaken means to be abandoned and deserted.  God is a loving Father.  He doesn’t throw us to the wolves and wait to see how we manage.  On the contrary, he begs us to lean on him, to allow Him to help us carry the cross.  But He never offers to take the cross away.  There is redemption and rejoicing in suffering and so He allows it.  He humbles us with trials that force us to our knees.  And I suffered.  But I chose to do it Alone.  I gave up on my God who had never once given up on me.  At some point, I stopped taking my suffering to the foot of the cross and I decided He had forsaken me.

I had gotten the message wrong…those well-meaning people who offered me advice didn’t get it.   Prayer wasn’t going to take my suffering away.  Prayer was going to make my suffering bearable.  It wasn’t my lack of prayer, or my lack of faith or His lack of love. It was my misunderstanding of how beautiful suffering can be.

And that’s why I hate that I felt relief today.  I hate that before the acceptance came the worry and panic.  Because where is my faith?  Where is my trust?  This isn’t a journey I’m meant to make alone…I have to share my burden with Him.  I have to trust that there’s a plan for this that I can’t see.  I’m His instrument.  He never promised it would be easy.  But it will be beautiful if I can just accept that suffering is an opportunity to grow in faith.  An opportunity to be humbled and molded and shaped into His vision.

Suffering, whatever form it may take, may be done joyously.

And with suffering, always comes hope.  And joy.  And redemption.  And we’re all pretty broken and in need of redemption.

So my prayer tonight?  My old favorite by Reinhold Niebuhr…

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.


One thought on “A Joyous Cross: Remembering Not to Suffer Alone

  1. Amen, I am so glad that you now understand suffering. I have always felt that if I didn’t have to suffer what in heavens name could I offer up? How would I be close to Him without it. I know that I would but those were thoughts that used to go through my head. I have always felt closer to God because I feel that I suffer with him. I think the word WITH is the important one to me. I love you dear daughter.


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