TRUST GOD AND DO THE NEXT THING
I was 19 weeks, just starting to look pregnant and feeling overwhelmed. The twenty minute ride to the midwife's office was just what I needed after caring for and homeschooling five children ages seven and under. I put the music on and worshipped the Lord as I drove.
At the office, I expected to be able to sit for a few quiet minutes and read, but Bobbie, my midwife, was not busy, so she took me right away. When she could not find the baby's heartbeat with the fetoscope, I asked her to use the Doppler. She still couldn't find the heartbeat. A sense of foreboding dropped over me when Bobbie said, "You need to go to the hospital and get checked out." As she made the arrangements, I called my husband Chris to find someone to stay with the children. I thought I felt a small movement in my womb when I walked out the door, and I smiled. "Everything is just fine!" I thought to myself.
Unfortunately, everything was not fine. The ultrasound showed a beautiful perfect baby floating in my womb. There was no flicker of a heartbeat, no waving arms, no blinking eyes, no movement.
My husband and I left the hospital in a trance. My heart felt like it had been stabbed and my stomach like it had been punched. As we sat on the sofa, I cried for my baby. I cried that I would never see what color his eyes were, hear his voice or his laughter or see his smile. I would never know what kind of person he would become. I knew he was with Jesus, but I cried because I would miss holding him, nursing him, kissing him. I cried because all my dreams for this child were as useless as dust in the wind.
The next morning Bobbie induced labor. Sixteen hours later, I gave birth to my beautiful baby, a boy weighing barely 6 ounces. We named him Joel Michael. He had perfect, tiny little ears that looked like seashells from the beach. His fingers and toes were fully formed.
As I looked back on my pregnancy, guilt as well as grief filled me. Although I never voiced it to my friends or even to my husband, I had been mad at God for allowing me to get pregnant so soon. Esther was only three months old when Joel was conceived. I complained to Him constantly and worried how I would be able to take care of this new baby, as well as all the others, and still home school.
Although some days the grief overwhelmed me, I had to go on. I still had five children to take care of, two to home school. I couldn't just sit there grieving.
During this time I read a fiction book. The main character was having a discussion with Oswald Chambers, who told her, "Trust God and do the next thing." Those seven words leapt off the page right into my heart. Sitting around replaying everything in my head only made me more upset and angry with God. I finally decided I had to make a choice to trust God, even though I didn't understand and was angry with Him. Like Peter, I reasoned, "Where else do I go? No one else has the words of life."
When my mind started to whirl with the whys of Joel's death, I would say to myself, "Trust God and do the next thing," then get up and do the laundry, wash dishes or cook. I'd do whatever needed to be done around the house to keep me from dwelling on all those questions that would never be answered. I consciously choose to trust Him and believe that His word is true.
After another heartbreaking miscarriage, I became pregnant again. I remember looking at the pregnancy test, then burying my head in my hands, tears overflowing, as I begged God, "Please let me keep this one!"
As the pregnancy progressed, many friends told me they were praying for me, which was a comfort. But still, every day I found myself crying, wondering if the baby would live. I was afraid to get attached to the baby or even plan for its arrival. I prayed constantly that everything would be all right but I couldn't believe that I would actually have a baby to cuddle at the end of the pregnancy.
One day while praying with some friends, a woman leaned over to my belly and said, "Baby King, we can't wait to see you, we love you!" My friend said the things to my baby I could not. The floodgates opened and all the emotion I had held back during my pregnancy poured out. I heard that still, small voice inside say the same words as before, "Trust Me and do the next thing."
When fears rose within me, choking the breath right out of me and stealing my joy, I would say it, and then go wash dishes, or pray, or hug my children, or prepare a lesson. I learned to continually give God my fears and grief and get on with life.
Even today, two years after Joel's death and one year after Izabelle Grace was born, "Trust God and do the next thing" is my life motto. Choosing to trust God by turning my worries over to God and getting on with my life is becoming a habit. My joy has increased and my relationship with God is stronger. If I'm not sure which direction to take, or I'm not hearing clear instructions from the Lord, I trust God will work it out as I move onto the next thing. When I can't see how obedience to the Lord's commands will work out, I close my eyes and say to myself, "Trust God and do the next thing."
If I had to do it all over again, would I choose to have Joel die? No. But I am grateful for the lessons the Lord has shown me through the darkest time in my life.
Hamilton, New Jersey, USA