Today marks the one year anniversary of the loss of our pregnancy. A year of coming to grips with an event that shook our world and left me reeling with an ache I still feel deep in my soul. This morning I was invited to speak at my church, to talk about our women’s retreat last weekend on the topic of joy. I thought I’d share it here tonight, in hopes that it might touch anyone out there that is struggling with a hurt or pain, fear, anxiety, or hopelessness- anyone in desperate need of Christ’s unfailing joy.
If you had told me a year ago that I would be standing in front of you today talking about joy, I likely would have scoffed at you. Because exactly one year ago today, I woke up in an incredible amount of pain. My husband rushed me to the emergency room, and that is where we learned that our much wanted, much prayed for, much loved pregnancy was in fact, ectopic. And it had ruptured, causing significant internal bleeding. Time was of the essence and within hours I had emergency surgery to save my life. In the process, the baby was lost. When I finally came to after surgery, and the full weight of what had happened began to settle on me, I was devastated. We were between 7-8 weeks along, but it might as well have been 8 months for the amount that I loved that baby. So if you had walked into my hospital room on October 29, 2016 and told me that I would be up here, speaking about joy, and joy for the journey, I would have told you that that would be impossible, because nothing good could come out of what I had just experienced.
And yet here I am.
Last weekend I had the privilege to attend the fall ladies retreat, which was entitled “Joy for the Journey.” 196 women joined us for the weekend here at the church. They ranged from all ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds. About 40 of the women that attended were not from our church, but from at least 8 other churches in our community, and even some from DC. There were women who had been Christians for decades, and some for only a short time. There were even women that didn’t know God at all, and for some of them that changed last weekend. There were at least three women that prayed to accept Jesus into their lives.
I was pretty nervous going into the weekend, partly because I had been asked to lead a small group, which is very far from my comfort zone, but also because I have spent the better part of the past year wrestling with God on the topic of Joy. You see, often I confuse joy with happiness. But over this past year, and especially last weekend, I was reminded that while happiness is a feeling. It is temporary and fleeting. Joy, on the other hand, is a choice. And it is a choice that must be made daily.
The definition we were given last weekend was “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.”
It was a beautiful thing to see so many women come together for worship, prayer, fellowship, and teaching. At one point there were five prayer stations set up here in the sanctuary, and we spent time wandering from station to station praying for each other, our country, those affected by recent natural disasters, ourselves, and the pastors and congregations of the various churches in our community. We had break out sessions that focused on reclaiming the joy we have so easily given away. And there was also a prayer room to talk about and pray for the things that lay heavy on our hearts.
Our speaker Sue Heimer, lead four keynote sessions, each focused on “Joy for the journey.” We talked about the kinds of things that can rob our joy- fear, comparison, busyness, toxic relationships. We talked about how if we search for our confidence in anything or anyone other than God, we will always come up empty. God is the source of living water that truly satisfies, but we often draw water from somewhere else, leaving us parched and dry. I think the talk that hit closest to home for me was when she discussed God being Enough, through all of our circumstances. One of the things Sue said was that as Christians, we don’t get a detour around pain, but a guided tour through it. And that if we are struggling with something, a past hurt or pain, or perhaps a fear of some unknown, we need to walk it out with God, settle it with Him so that Satan will cease to threaten us with it. Whatever has happened to us, it is part of our story, but it is not our whole story. We can look forward with hope, and Joy.
There were seven other women in my small group and I didn’t know most of them. But I was blessed with a group of women that honestly opened up to each other. We shared our fears, our struggles, and our victories. And as we shared, I was reminded that while the circumstances and the characters in our lives might be different, all our stories carry the same the thread- we are sinners, we are broken. We need God’s grace and we need his Joy. The joy that only the confident assurance of Jesus Christ and His provision in our lives can provide.
So my question to you today is “Is God Enough?”
Have you lost your job or hit some unexpected financial burden. Is God Enough?
Are you out there sitting next to a spouse you barely even recognize anymore? Is God enough?
Are you single and lonely, and longing for companionship? Is God enough?
Are you dealing with an illness that is ravaging your body? Is God enough?
Or are you like me? Does your heart ache for a child you never got to hold in your arms? Is God enough?
After a year of wrestling with this very question, I can say in all honesty he can be and he is.