Anytime you get a group of Moms together, the baby talk is going to come out. There is something sacred about sharing stories of pregnancies and births. It ties us together, links us through space and time. It is still as precarious a situation as one can be in, I've heard some stories that make me think, despite medical technology, we haven't progressed that far from the early days of giving birth.
I participate in a running group on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Through these runs, I've had the privilege of hearing many stories and sharing my own. They are all dramatic, and the shared emotion is sometimes too much before dawn!
This morning a very sweet lady shared with me her story and it just floored me. She has two healthy children now but getting there was a nightmare. She is bitter over the situations that happened and many "what if's" still remain in her mind. She wondered aloud what the purpose was for going through all she and her husband had to endure.
It got me thinking about hope. Maybe because another friend just had a baby girl and named her Hope, after losing a daughter at 2 months last summer. It also got me thinking about Job - the biggest "Why Lord?" questioner in the Bible.
What ifs are tricky. They can consume your thoughts and leave you with a sense of dread and fear. In general, I am not a fearful person but there have been times, when I had to take a deep breath and step back from the horrific images in my mind, and most of the time those include fears for my children.
But as I look into the yawning chasm of my fear, what keeps me from falling in? What keeps me in a general state of peace?
I think some of it boils down to hope. In my mind, there are only two ways to go when you look at situation. You can either dwell on the "what ifs" or you can search for the "what is." I'm might be oversimplifying a bit, but when I heard my friend's story - I could see that The Lord stemmed the tide. He has a plan and I don't understand a lot of it (and some of it is just terrible), but He made sure other "what ifs" didn't happen. It is what it is and The Lord did it for her benefit, even though those benefits are still to be revealed.
The verse I always come back to is one that holds much promise, benefit, possibility for me - Philippians 4:6-7.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Paul goes on to tell us what we should think about - good things. Instead of dwelling on the bad, change your mind - literally don't be consumed with cares or concerns, but be filled with what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy. We are to mentally chew on that, rather than what could have been.
Job never lost faith in The Lord but he took his beefs to the One who could take it. He didn't get an answer this side of the Jordan to all his sufferings, but he did get reminded just how big His God was (and is.) When that happens, how can you lose hope?
Hope burns away bitterness. Purity burns away anger. Righteousness focuses on what is most important. We can't change what happened but we don't have to dwell on what might have. We have a choice to believe in the hope of glory, Christ Jesus, who lives in us. He planted the seed and He will grow the fruit. When we trust in that, His peace overcomes our worries and fears and we can begin to truly see where He has been and is at work in our lives. Just as fear breeds fear, hope breeds hope. It's a choice to what we let run rampant in our minds.
I am praying my friend will see the fruit of her sufferings and God will draw her close to Him. I pray He will comfort her and this situation will lead to greater intimacy with Him.
But I know there is no greater way to live than joyfully looking forward than mournfully looking back. It's what Jesus came for (John 10:10) and so I gotta roll with that.
Where do you find hope in the midst of suffering and challenge?