“The enemy is after your joy. He wants to steal it forever, and ever.”
Those words shook me to my core while on the phone with a friend. You know in movies where one line is spoken and the mood heightens or changes entirely? This was that… But in real life, in my real heart. Those words pierced like arrows, challenging me to zoom out of the sea of pain I was drowning in, and see a much bigger picture. The big picture was the threat to the quality, the joy I would or would not experience in my life, for the rest of my life, and I wasn’t backing down.
Moments before my friend spoke those words to me in prayer, I had been in the doctor’s office. My husband and I went in together for a routine pregnancy check up. There was nothing unusual going on, which we were fine with after experiencing an early term miscarriage in December. We expected to be in and out after an ultrasound and blood work. We had seen our new baby at two previous appointments, and were eager to get a glimpse of that precious life we were picking out names and planning for. As I lay on the exam table the doctor put the sonogram wand over my stomach. I love hearing baby’s heart beat. It’s the most beautiful music to a mama’s ears. I waited, and heard nothing. I looked at the screen and saw our baby, still, and lifeless.
It seemed like hours staring at that screen, knowing in my heart the truth, but trying to convince myself I was wrong or I was dreaming. Finally our doctor broke the deafening silence, and with tears in his eyes said “I… I can’t hear a heartbeat.” I went numb. Was this really happening? Emotions threatening to engulf me, I was half listening to the doctor tell us to go home today and we would talk about the different options on how to get the baby out… It was all too much. All I could do was lay there.
I felt God’s peace, but I also felt the walls going up around my heart. When you receive such a blow to your joy, your promise, your faith… It shakes you. Being shaken is part of life, but remaining anchored in the midst of the storm is a choice. That choice was a very real one at that moment.
When I heard those words, “the enemy is after your joy” it was like an awakening alarm went off inside of me. Not that I had to be joyful in that moment, but that I could believe the Lord’s joy would strengthen me until I could be. There was a voice in my heart that was shouting of God’s goodness, His faithfulness, even through this. I didn’t know what it was going to look like, but I had decided I would not let the enemy steal my joy for the rest of my life. That I would walk out this pain and healing process with the Lord by my side, carrying me through. In my heart came John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
I took a deep breath and looked up at the ceiling, but my focus was beyond it. My focus was on my Father. The One who knows me and loves me. The One who had prepared me in ways and had others already praying for me. The One who doesn’t kill babies, or anyone for that matter. I felt a resolve in my heart. I felt anchored. Anchored to Jesus. Anchored to His joy. Anchored to peace that really was surpassing my understanding. Anchored to Him. My emotions were thrashing about like an incredible storm, threatening the strength of my anchor, but I just kept breathing. I didn’t understand, but I didn’t have to. I would walk this out, not to impress God with my own strength, but while leaning on Him in my weakness, fully dependent on Him, letting His strength and joy meet all of my pain. Getting up that day was so hard, as were the days and weeks after that appointment.
I had always read “the joy of the Lord is your strength” in Nehemiah 8 as if I had to force myself to be joyful, so I would be strong. This journey of back to back miscarriages has taught me it is not my joy that brings strength, but HIS. I can not tell you how many times I have listened to ‘Forever’ by Kari Jobe. I always laugh and cry with unexplainable joy at the line:
“Oh death, where is your sting? Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated!”
It has been a few months now, and I have found myself in different phases of heartache and healing. I kept feeling like I should be ok. People expected me to be ok. There are triggers that cause tears. It took me weeks to go through my closet and take out the maternity clothes. Baby showers are very different for me now. The thing is, I know that at my core I really am ok, but the Lord is still healing me. In prayer one day I asked the Lord why I wasn’t ‘there’ yet… Fully healed. He showed me a picture of me in a deep pit, head in my hands while I cried. He said, “Daughter, you keep thinking I am reaching down from the top of the pit, desperate to help you get out and move on. I’m not there. I am in the pit with you, holding you and weeping with you. Don’t focus on getting there, just focus on Me. Soon we will be out of the pit… not because of your strength, but because you allow Me in your pain, in your pit. I am not in a hurry to get you to the other side, I am interested in the full healing of your heart.” He has been beside me every second of this process. His joy has truly given me strength.
This season has been painfully healing, horribly beautiful, and one I will always remember. Yes, because of the loss, but also for the love, the faithfulness, nearness and depth I have discovered in God. We can’t know we are established in our faith, until that faith is tested. What good is a beautiful mansion, if the foundation has a hole in it? The Lord uses our pain as opportunities to draw us to Him, and rebuild us stronger than before. Just because I am hurting, doesn’t mean God isn’t good. His character does not change when I go through pain.
I will continue to embrace the pain until joy and strength burst from it. I won’t be afraid to feel it ALL, with Jesus, so He can heal me the whole way of this journey, because I trust Him. I won’t settle for anything less than redemption, and neither should you. If you too, have a baby waiting for you in heaven, know that as you read this, I have already prayed for you and your family. You are still a mother, and your baby is worth honoring and acknowledging, no matter how short their life. I see you and with all of my heart want to hug you and hear your story.
There really is nothing He can not bring you through, Mama, If you chose to trust Him, even when it doesn’t line up with what makes sense to you. I promise He won’t leave you broken. He didn’t cause your pain, but He wants to love and heal you through to a more anchored, joyful, beautiful you. Nothing is too difficult for Him.
There may be pain in the night, but joy really does come in the morning! I am praying your joy may be filled to overflowing, even in the midst of the storm. Stay anchored, Sister. He has you!