Saturday, November 27, 2010

Would You?

Often times I read status updates, blogs, and tweets that say "God is so good." "I am so blessed." or "Thank you God for Your miracles."

I love reading statements like this, but often times I find myself wondering if the authors of these statements would still think this if things didn't work out in their favor.

I'm not questioning any one's faith or beliefs. I'm not judging at all. It is simply a question that pops up in my mind when I read these types of things.

If your child didn't make it to their first birthday, would God still be good?

If your child was born sleeping, would you still thank Him for the miracle of life?

If your child was born with Autism, a heart defect, or cancer, would you still say you are so blessed?

It is so easy to get wrapped up in thanking God for the good things that are happening in our lives. It is easy to have faith when things are good, we aren't struggling, and things are going our way. What about when things go wrong?

I have to continuously remind myself that my faith is not based on when God does things that work out in my favor. It is not about me. I have to constantly remind myself that God is good even when my baby is dead. When I'm in the midst of my anger and frustration that my child is gone, I have to remind myself that Joshua's life was and is a MIRACLE!

I used to say that I was blessed. Living a good life with lots of stuff. These days the stuff really doesn't matter to me anymore. I am blessed. Blessed to be given the promise of eternal life. Blessed to have had Joshua as my son. Blessed to have Caleb, Hannah, and Shane- no matter how long or short their lives may be. Blessed to have so many who have loved us and cared for us through our darkest days.

Faith is easy when life is easy, but when life is hard? Not so much.

I struggle every day to continue to trust God. I struggle every day to try to praise Him through my pain and suffering. Some days I do well, others I fail miserably (and to be honest, I've been failing miserably quite frequently these days). But one thing remains the same- even when I can't feel anything but infuriating anger- God remains the same: Good.


16 comments:

Kathryn @ Expectant Hearts said...

I said once "it's easy to believe God when you get your miracle". that was an angry day..
It IS hard to count your blessings inthe face of pain and suffering... I try and remember how blessed I am that I WILL see SEth again.

Jill, it's taken a long time, I still have periods that suck. And I didn't believe people when they told me in the beginning that things would get "easier" or "better" or whatever they said. I CAN tell you, you will find more joy and peace.

Our God IS good, and He loves us, and He is enough. He IS the God of healed hearts. Joshua's heart is healed in heaven and your heart will heal too... It's okay if you don't believe me.

The Sears Family said...

My faith and my walk with God is a daily struggle. There are days that are good and days that are bad. I believe we all struggle. I have learned over the last 31 months that nothing matters more than God and my family. Everything else comes and goes.

Praying for your heart as always.

Dana Sears

Stephanie, Daughter of the Risen King said...

Thanks for keeping that present tense. I have seen so many families 'stand up' in the face of (insert correct word). I can't say that I could or would be able to do so but I can say that it has amazed me and I want the hope that they have. Dear Lord, MAKE me able, prepare me, send me according to Your will and purpose for my life. I may be like Peter before the rooster crows but that is His will. I can also say that I wanted what I saw in my Sister and Brother-in-law and accepted Christ not long after that.
Blessings,
SQ

Devon said...

oh girl, i still ask myself that question almost 3 years later....friends and family who have gotten their miracles scream "GOD IS GOOD" and he is but not because they got their miracle. its hard though to hear it from our perspective....its not about what God does but who he is....i've been thinking of you this weekend....the holidays are rough...be gentle with yourself!

Truthful Mommy said...

YOU are amazing. I'd like to think that I could remember that God is good in the face of such devastation but I'm not sure that I really could be.I had an experience with my nephew being diagnosed with cancer at 3 and it was almost impossible for me not to blame God. I could not understand.Looking back, I know it is not for me to understand but to accept but it is hard when you are in the midst of the hardship.I don;t know how you do it.You are stoic and you inspire me to be a better person.

Beth Rivera said...

Jill, to answer your question...no.

I couldn't.

I totally understand what you mean about how people praise God when things are good. This Thanksgiving, I felt SO lucky and SO blessed...because things are good. 2 years ago, when I was 8 months pregnant with Ryleigh, in DESPERATE amounts of pain from a ruptured disc in my back that no surgeon would touch BECAUSE I was pregnant...I was angry with God. I was in so much pain that I thought multiple times of taking my own life...I remember thinking, "Ok, maybe if my husband knows when I'm going to do it, he can call 911 quickly enough so that they can save the baby's life". I felt lost. I felt alone. I felt like God wasn't listening because I had prayed and literally begged for relief from the 24-hour pain that felt like my right leg was pinned under an 18-wheeler.

He didn't answer my prayers. And yes, I was angry with him.

On a Sunday morning, when my husband was away on business and I was having "those thoughts" again, I flipped the channel to a preacher who was saying something about giving yourself over to God and telling Him when it's too much to handle. Never having been much of a religious person, but too desperate to let the possibility escape...I threw my hands up and cried and cried and begged for Him to take my pain away.

It didn't work.

That pregnancy...being alone and lost and desperate...that made me lose faith in God.

I found out I was pregnant again when Ryleigh was just 10 months old. I had just had corrective back surgery 7 months prior. My surgeon had told me that I could NOT get pregnant for at least 2 years, in order to give my back time to heal, and so that I wouldn't reinjure my back.

Brendan was a miracle. I was told I could not conceive on my own. But I was TERRIFIED. The thought of going through that pain for 8 months again...it was almost enough to make me consider the unthinkable...something I've told myself I could never live with.

But instead...I decided to just give it a chance. And I prayed every day.

And this time...I was fine.

I'm sorry this is so long...I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't beat yourself up for losing faith. It's to be expected, it's what makes you HUMAN. The important part is to never stray too far from that path. I would think that God expects a little bit of anger and resentfulness along the way...He made us, after all :) I still think of you and your family every single day. Take care of yourself...and revel in those two beautiful children that are eating your breakfast every day :)

The Real Life of a Red Head said...

Beth-

I'm not necessarily losing my faith. In fact, it's never been stronger. I take comfort in the fact that God knows my heart and He's ok with me being angry with him. He knows that I ultimately love him and trust him, and he also knows that I'm human and I'm hurting.

This journey of faith and trust is so hard sometimes.

Thanks for sharing your story with me!

Three Ring Circus said...

I have a child, my youngest (he's a twin, but he's the younger of the two) and he was born with cancer, Neuroblastoma. They didn't catch it until he was 3 months old.

I was terrified. At the time, I didn't know much about Cancer, especially not about cancer in babies. I thought for sure my son was going to die. That thought, was more than I could handle. I cried and cried and prayed and prayed, and cried some more.

I was ANGRY I was SCARED I didn't understand. WHY my son? Why our family? I actually had people tell me (yes one was even a Pastor) that our family was being PUNISHED by God for being wicked and that our son having cancer was our fault, and our punishment, God was punishing us, and that our son would die.

Hearing that, on top of already feeling that "mommy guilt" beating myself up wondering if I HAD done something wrong, if I HAD caused my sons cancer. "What if" I had done something different? "What if, What if, what if" Those thoughts filled my mind.

I was a wreck. Once things finally "calmed down" just a bit, we got news that Keegan's tumor was growing and he'd need a 7 hour surgery that was major and dangerous. Again, I wondered what God was doing, why? What if?

God brought Keegan through that surgery and I praised God. THANK YOU I said!

Then Keegan started chemo. Another lurch in my stomach, more fear, more dread, more what ifs and whys.

I lost sight of a lot of things during the 4 months Keegan had chemo.

Through it all? YES I found whatever I could to be thankful for!

The difference for me though, is that Keegan IS doing well now, he is No Evidence of Disease at the moment (and we pray it stays that way but we don't know what Gods plans are we just take the good news as we continue to get it, and are thankful for it).

It's hard to trust in God some days, to trust in a plan that I don't know, that I don't understand.

But I know that every day, every minute, every second that I have with Keegan and his twin brother (who has a seizure disorder), and their 3 year old sister...every day with them IS a miracle. We could have lost Keegan easily, but he's still with us.

Now ask me how my faith is should we ever get bad news on Keegan...my faith might be a bit shaken. I like to think that I will still find things to be thankful for. That I will still trust in God and not dwell on the "what ifs" and "Whys"

One thing that always helps me keep things in perspective when I'm down and out (which still happens even though Keegan is NED), I stop and remember that there are others out there who are having a worst go of it than my family. There are families out there who will not be holding their babies, who will not be tucking them in at all, or not tucking them in at home but in a hospital instead. That makes me feel much much more thankful for what I do have.

You have a beautiful family, and I know you are thankful for them. I still think about you guys often!

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/SuperKeeganRay

Tara Collyer Photography said...

Your post reminds me of something that I read recently in a book called Crazy Love ‘…maybe life is tough right now, and everything feels like a struggle. God has allowed hard things in your life so you can show the world that your God is great and that knowing Him brings peace and joy even when life is hard.’
This REALLY hit me. We are SO quick to say things like 'God is good', etc but when crap happens do we quickly hop the fence and have a completely different view? This is why I LOVE reading your blog. You are such an encouragement to me in this way.

clara said...

I have also lost a son, he was 7 weeks old and born very sick. (8 years ago) I can totally relate to this. People are always thanking God when things go well, but in cases like ours, we trust anyway in God's plan for our families, even though its almost impossible. I can't really put it into words right now, but I'm at the point where I pray by just being with our Lord & realizing He knows what I need. I'm sending some love to you, this part does get easier, although its always different.

Kristi Vega said...

That was kinda my Thanksgiving blog entry. About finding blessings and God's presence even in the most difficult of times. I still felt blessed when I found out my child was dying, when she had a stroke that stripped her of herself, when she was having her heart removed... it is a challenge finding blessings in all of these, and even loss....

Big hugs sweetie... pray for you often.

CHD Fighter said...

I too have thrown up my hands and wondered Why ... often as a child when I would look at my CHD scar I would cry and tell God "I'm sorry" that I was so sorry for making God mad enough to almost take my life ... I lost my twin the day I was born (I don't talk about it much because I feel guilty that I lived and she didn't ... she would have been normal ... the child my parents deserved but instead they got me) ... I threw up my hands as a teenager as I couldn't do everything my friends did but I turned to drugs and alcohol (even with a major heart defect) to fit in and said "Here you go God since you want to take me out, I'll do it for you" and it never happened, no matter what drug I did I never seemed to die when I thought that is what I wanted ... when I had my arm broken and my face beat in by an abuser at 19 and then was choked out by another man at 24 I threw up my hands and begged God to end it all ... it hurt too much ... I was too afraid ... I didn't think God loved me one bit ... then years later when I got clean and was happy ... I thanked God for never taking me out ... for allowing me to meet the man of my dremas ... and then God decided to take my child ... I lost my daughter before she was even born ... she was born sleeping ... her heart defect and my body was just too weak ... and then I threw up my hands and asked God why me ... and all I could ever hear when asking God why me through my life finally came clear it doesn't mean I'm not sometimes pissed off it has to be that way ... I have learned Heaven is the only perfect place ... was "Why not you?" was God's answer to me ... like I had the right to think the whole time I was better than others ... I have come to realize I'm not better or worse than anyone else ... my stories of living in a hospital as a child can be compared to others I've met who were abused, poor, neglected as children ... those stories of my drug use were comparable to any other person who's used them ... they wanted to be numb not feeling what is going on around them ... instead making sure to pull themself out of a situation ... being high is like not being there at all ... then I was abused by 2 men in a row and I learned that the cycle of low self esteem, low self worth, and lowness of mindset is what made me a target to both abusers ... and I had to overcome that and love myself first and foremost ... and then real love could come ... and when I lost my daughter I learned ... I'm still not better or worse than anyone else ... and I didn't really deserve any of it but I was lucky to not really get what I deserved God knows I have looked this gifthorse in the mouth more than once or twice ... I learned it happened ... stuff happens ... it's all relative in God's eyes ... God might have had a choice and my daughter might have gone for me ... God might have known she wasn't to survive her heart defect and then I'd be in a place mentally that I couldn't survive ... God knows ... and I learn that everyday through everything ... God surely gives ... but God surely takes away ... I have learned to throw up my hands and bow down ... letting God control what comes and goes in my world ... it doesn't mean I always like it ... it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt ... but it means I will have a lot of questions when I meet God ... and I'm positive God has always had all the answers I've been seeking ... Thank you for posting this and forgive the long comment but I wanted to share ... this is my way of answering Would You? Now I can say YES I WOULD but for almost 26 years I answered NO I COULDN'T NOT!!

Prayers for all of you ... especially you Jill ... Kathryn ... and Kristi who I have gotten to meet online!!

Paula B said...

I know what you mean, Jill. Anytime we go through rough and tough times, I am sure we question God's goodness in all of this. But, as you know our family has had our times of rough and tough, I would wonder but then I had to remind myself how God is good all the time because He is constant even when I am not realizing it. It's not that we don't feel down, angry, questioning Him, irritated that things and events don't go the way we wish. Now after the rough and tough, I am now questioning how do I forgive. Forgiveness, total forgiveness is hard. Am I making sense or am I rambling? Is that what blogging is? : )

Anonymous said...

Jill,

Yes, I can say that I praise God thru this storm. I walk the path of CHD parent. I know the fears, the overwhelming darkness that overcomes you in the middle of the night as you are sitting by their bed praying just praying. I know what it is like to be down on my knees, sobbing and telling the surgeon "operate on me instead" I know what it is like to stand at those OR doors having just told the nurses "your holding my life in your hands"

What I don't know is what it is like to be in your shoes. To walk the path of "hello, my child died" My heart tells me that I would continue to praise God, for through it all, I AM BLESSED.

I struggle with "god's Will" and "MY will" I probably always will....but I have faith. And THAT is what gets me thru the day to day struggles.

Shannon Egan

Nikki said...

On my old blog, I have several entries full of anger. Even hate. I put my prayers online for all to see. Things I would normally never speak out loud. Things that I'm ashamed to read, but it was how I felt at one point in my life and I think it also shows the turning point in my life.

When Dade was born, it was the end of a 17 month struggle just to get pregnant. He came out and they thought he had a broken calvical, his heart murmur was detected at the same time, so he was whisked away. I didn't get to snuggle him. He was out for an echo and x-ray before I was even stitched back up. The next morning we got the results. No broken bones, but a heart defect-pulmonary valve stenosis. We were also told he failed his hearing test but "not to worry unless someone in the family has hearing problems" (Justin's sister is deaf) so needless to say it was a horrific hospital stay. We got home and things were not relaxing at all. Not only were we adjusting to being parents, but we had to learn how to be heart parents.

At 13 months his stenosis was getting worse and he was put on the schedule for a heart cath. I was furious. After all we'd been through leading up to, during and after his birth, we were still being shafted. I'd had it and hit my breaking point and let everyone around me know it.

When Emmett came 8 1/2 weeks early I hit a new low. He was in the NICU for a month, came home and 2 weeks later developed a hernia. He had surgery for that and 2 months later developed a heart murmur that turned out to be patent ductus arteriosus, patent foramen ovale (or ASD) and pulmonary hypertension. He spent more than 1/2 his life on oxygen and an apnea monitor. When he was 8 months old we had the heart cath and he's been ok so far. It still didn't erase the pure hatred and disgust I had for my Father in Heaven.

It's gotten better. Since Orson was diagnosed with the cysts on his brain, I learned that no matter how angry I got, it didn't change the outcome. It just made me more bitter. I didn't like who I was when I let Satan control my thoughts and feelings.

I still have my bad days. I still have a hard time remembering to count my blessings when everything around me has gone to crap. But I try. And I fail. But I still KEEP trying. I think that's the whole point of TRYING to be Christ-like. We try, and we fail, and we are given another opportunity to try again. It's a wonderful gift.

Nikki
www.brokenheartsmended.blogspot.com

Rainy said...

I am so glad to know that you are not losing your faith. :) I have to say that through all of this and other people that I have followed on here. I have asked myself how I would react and I can honestly say that, "I don't know." I have told my husband that if something happened to our daughter that you would just have to bury me with her. I am not sure I would have the strength that you all have. I can also say that I pray every night for all families that lose loved ones. That God grants them the peace they need to walk this road without their loved ones. Young or old. I ask for the sick to have the strength they need to get through what needs to be gotten through. I ask every night for my husband to feel better, another story in itself. I ask for my daughter to stay healthy and stong. I also ask for strength.

 
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