Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A woman after God's own heart?

It has only been a little over three weeks since our little girl Eliana went to be with Jesus. There have been so many ups and downs, and so much sadness. But in the middle of our loss, we have continued to experience so much comfort and peace from God, in a way that we have never known before.

A few days after Eliana's birth, I opened my Bible to read, and without giving it a lot of thought went immediately to the beginning of Psalms. I had it in my head that when I met with my mom's group the week before, that was where we had decided to read together next. Immediately the verses began speaking poignently and directly to my heart and my situation, and I read through many chapters. I thought it was definitely the hand of God that we had decided to study that before even knowing about what would transpire. The funny thing is, I later realized that I didn't even read the right assignment, we were supposed to be reading Proverbs! Now I believe even more that God specifically directed me to those passages, knowing what I needed at this time, and wanting to speak directly to me.

David, the author of most of the Psalms, was a man who endured a lot in his life, including the death of his own infant son. Despite his hardships and struggles with sin, God showed him grace, and he was even known as “a man after God’s own heart.” Many of the Psalms were written during times of intense trials in David’s life, but he still found the strength to trust God and praise Him. Since Eliana's death, He has used these passages to life me up, letting me know that He hears my cries, and that I can trust Him. I hope that He can use my trials for good like He did for David, that I might be a woman after God’s own heart. I wanted to include some of what I have been reading and learning, and I hope it can encourage someone else like it has me!

“But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, the One who lifts my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me, I will not be afraid…” Psalm 3: 3-6

Those words are such a beautiful comfort, like being wrapped in a blanket of peace. One thing I have been struggling with since saying goodbye to Eliana is lifting my head. I have two energetic pre-schoolers to take care of, who wake me up each morning full of life and needing me to make their day happen. Some days I don’t feel like getting out of bed, some days I don’t have the strength to tackle what the day might hold, some days I just want to pull the covers over my head, go back to sleep, and pretend these last weeks have all just been a bad dream. But they need me. How can I have the strength to lift my head? I cannot, but He will lift it for me, He will be my shield and my sustainer. He hears my cries and answers them with grace.

Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, Oh Lord! You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound, In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” Psalm 4: 6-8

Not only have I been struggling to get out of bed, but I have been struggling with sleep. The days are so filled with tasks and being a Mommy of two, but always on my mind is my little Eliana. When everything is finally quiet, and I’m alone with my thoughts, my mind is a restless wanderer. I can’t seem to make peace with my thoughts, but here I read that I can lie down, and not only will God grant me that peace, but He will also put gladness in my heart, even more than when things were going well! How can that be? Only because of the One who can do the impossible.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away; Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed. And my soul is greatly dismayed; But You, O Lord—how long? Return, O Lord, rescue my soul; save me because of Your lovingkindness…I am weary with my sighing; every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief…The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord has heard my supplication, the Lord receives my prayer." Psalm 6:2-9 & Psalm 7:1”

Wow…that says it all. David knew what it was like to experience great heartache, and He also knew how to cry out to a loving God. What else can we do, when the sorrow is so deep, when we feel helpless and broken? When I call to Him, He hears, and He answers faithfully with comfort and peace. My only hope is in Him. I have hope not only because of the shelter He provides me in the midst of the storm, but because I know that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross has won the victory over sin and death, Eliana is with Jesus, and one day I will be reunited with her in heaven.

The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times. You, O Lord, will keep them.” Psalm 12: 6-7

Nothing compares to the truth of God’s promises. Eliana’s name means “fulfilled promise.” So many places in the Bible God promises to comfort us, to give us peace, to never leave us, here David reminds us, like silver, how strong, how pure and beautiful God’s words really are. Because of Eliana, I have already experienced the fulfillment of so many of God’s promises.

How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day?” Psalm 13:1&2 “But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13:5&6.

Sometimes it is impossible to understand God. He works in mysterious ways, far beyond our comprehension, but yet He promises to work all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28) There are times when He seems to forget us, to hide His face. Can we still trust in His love? Can we even rejoice, and sing praises to Him? Okay, maybe this idea sounds a little crazy. If God is really all powerful, then why didn’t He allow my baby girl to stay safe inside my body, to grow and develop, and be born crying and healthy? The truth is, I don’t know. Maybe because she will never have to cry, she was spared all the heart ache this world can hold, and ushered immediately into endless love and light. But then, why must I be left to cry without her? I do not have an answer, but I know that her life, and even her death, were no accident, God has a purpose and a plan even in this. He is loving, and He is good, and in that sweet someday I will understand. When I stand before Him and He wipes every tear from my eyes and I embrace my daughter in His presence. Then we will worship and praise Him together. That is why along with David, I can pray, I trust in Your love, I will rejoice in Your salvation, I will sing praise to You. I don’t understand, but I will trust You.

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