(This post was originally written for and published on hopemommies.org)
The moment my husband and I found out we were expecting our fourth child, my mind instantly began to imagine what life as a family of six would look like. Baby names began to run circles in my mind, prayers for this precious life were whispered often throughout the day, and my hands found their way to my rapidly growing belly again and again as I cradled this sweet baby as best as I could from the outside.
I never imagined that I would never bring this babe home with me from the hospital.
I never imagined his beautiful face would never appear in family photos.
I never imagined that I would have to say goodbye to this child that I desperately loved and had eagerly awaited.
And I never imagined that less than a year later I would experience that anguish all over again…
I think that most of us can agree that life never turns out as we expected or hoped it would. And for many of us, we find ourselves enduring the very thing we feared the most.
Growing up, I often fell prey to the thinking that if I continued to honor the Lord with my life and remained in obedience to His will, I would be shielded from any really difficult trials in life. But the more I read His Word, and saw suffering in the lives of those around me, the more I realized that being united with Christ does not guarantee an easy life. In fact, the Word of God tells us that tribulation will come (John 16:33).
But even still, there were moments following the death of our son that I thought I had met my quota of “tribulations.” Certainly, the Lord wouldn’t require more than this of me, right? I surely cannot endure any more than this weight of sorrow that I now carry.
But that wasn’t the case. Trusting in the Lord does not result in exemption from difficultly.
The ministry of the prophets throughout biblical times was a unique reminder of the sovereignty of God. The primary role of a prophet was to call the people back to obedience to God. The prophets repeatedly warned God’s people of the judgement that would result from continuing in their sin and faithlessness, but they also constantly pointed the people to the hope of Christ.
Jeremiah was one such prophet. He was called by God as a boy to be a prophet in the kingdom of Judah during the final years before its fall to the Babylonians. He served as a prophet for over forty years, spanning the reigns of five different kings of Judah.
One might think that to be uniquely chosen as a prophet of the Lord — chosen to proclaim His words to the people — would be an advantageous and profitable position. Surely, a man called by God to declare the very words of God would receive immunity from discomfort and pain. But while it was a great honor to be chosen by God to be His messenger, it was a difficult job full of disappointments, hardship, and suffering. In fact, for all his years of service to the Lord in this capacity Jeremiah earned the nickname of “The Weeping Prophet.”
The book of Jeremiah in the Bible serves as a snapshot into his life and ministry as a prophet. Through his words, we are given insight into the grief that he endured in watching his people, a people whom he loved, continually persist in their sin until the final destruction of their nation. His messages of repentance were not well received. Throughout his ministry of warning the people of God’s judgment against sin, we see only two recorded converts.
As a result of his obedience to God, his hometown plotted against him, he was beaten many times, placed in stocks, imprisoned, thrown into a cistern, received many threats against his life, and was ridiculed for following the Lord. The following verses give us a glimpse into the suffering he endured:
“I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the Word of the Lord has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!
Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”
All my friends
are waiting for me to slip, saying,
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we will prevail over him
and take our revenge on him.”
Cursed be the day I was born!
May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!
Cursed be the man who brought my father the news,
who made him very glad, saying,
“A child is born to you—a son!”
Why did I ever come out of the womb
to see trouble and sorrow
and to end my days in shame?
-Jeremiah 20:7-8, 10, 14-15, 18
I wonder if throughout these many trials, Jeremiah asked the same questions of the Lord that I had: “Certainly, the Lord wouldn’t require more than this of me, right? I surely cannot endure any more than this weight of sorrow that I now carry.” But he continued to endure one hardship after the other.
If you are looking solely at the outward circumstances of Jeremiah’s life, it would be easy to assume that Jeremiah would resent the Lord and cling to bitterness and anger because of the lot that had fallen on him, but that was not the case. Listen to this next verse:
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.”
Jeremiah considered himself blessed, because he had placed his trust in the Lord. No matter what he endured, he was anchored with confidence in the greatness of God.
“There is none like You, O Lord;
You are great, and Your name is great in might.”
“But the Lord is the true God;
He is the living God and the everlasting King.”
“‘Ah, Lord God! It is You who have made the heavens and the earth by
Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you….”
Even though Jeremiah was greatly persecuted because of his work, he was determined and dedicated to proclaim God’s Word to the people. And in the end, although his life was filled with suffering and hardship he chose to praise the Lord. In the midst of grief and sorrow, Jeremiah declared the goodness of God to a people who rejected him and the God he so faithfully served.
“Sing to the Lord!
Give praise to the Lord!
He rescues the life of the needy
from the hands of the wicked.”
“Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved,
for You are my praise.”
And this can be true of your life too, precious momma. You can choose to praise the Lord no matter the suffering you have endured. You too, are considered blessed if you have placed your trust in the Lord, even after the devastation of losing a child. Do you believe this?
Do you consider yourself blessed? Will you choose to let your life be a song of praise to our great God? Will you let His glory be known to the world from the ashes of your sorrow?
Dear one, this can only take place once you have come to recognize that the Lord truly is the greatest good — the very best thing.
“I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
Nothing compares to the splendor of knowing Christ and walking with Him. Nothing can trump the joy that is found in His presence. Nothing can rival the hope that we have because of His death and resurrection. Nothing. Not even holding your beloved child once again.
When your heart comes to accept this life-altering truth, you too can praise Him despite the sorrow you now bear and regardless of the difficulties that may come. Like Jeremiah, you will be able to praise the Lord in every season. And so, as you sit here heart aching for the child(ren) you so desperately miss, let yourself be gripped by the greatness of God. Open up His Word and discover all that He is and what He has done. For as you come to know Him, truly and deeply know Him, you will not remain unchanged.