On Suffering and Singing –

I am a lover of words. As an author and voracious reader, they are what I live and breathe, I know their power and it is often words that I crave. So, when I first learned about the practice of choosing a word for the year you better believe I was all over it! I no longer make New Year’s Resolutions but instead, each November-December pray in earnest for a word that the Lord would use to grow and further me along my sanctification journey in the coming year. This year would be no different.

December 2021 I really felt the Lord gave me:

Sing Diligently

Sing! This sounded wonderful…I was ready to sing! In this midst of being given this word I was all consumed in trying to grow our family. Seed cycling, herbs, essential oils, this wives tale, that wives tale…you name it by the time January 2022 rolled around I had likely at least considered trying it. Our first four children (two births, two losses) were conceived the first month of ever trying. Our fifth didn’t come as easily and when the Lord gave me the word sing I hoped (in my human understanding) surely it meant we were going to be welcoming another child into our lives by the year’s end.

And in a way, we did.

It took jumping through hoops … but we finally had that long awaited positive pregnancy test and all was well. Until mid-July when I started bleeding. Fast forward through long days of HCG checks, ultrasounds and our third loss in the form of a tubal pregnancy. Surgery took my right tube, my left tube is deformed. We were told having biological children may never again be a possibility….dreams I held dear to my heart from the time of childhood lay fractured all around me.

And the very last thing I wanted to do was sing.

How could I sing when for so long “all that I wanted” was given to me and then ripped away within the matter of a few weeks? How could I sing when my dreams of having a large family were very likely being dashed to pieces? How could I sing when we waited a long 11 months to even conceive our third (fifth) child and all the while watched so many around us become pregnant with their precious little ones?

I questioned the validity of the word sing. What was the Lord’s purpose behind giving me this word? I had said for so long that the Lord wasn’t going to put a dream on my heart for me to follow only to at the last moment pull it away. He wasn’t a carrot dangler. (He still isn’t).

The truth is we serve a God who wants us to sing.

One who has good plans for His children but sometimes in the midst of brokenness all those plans can seem cliché… perhaps like they are for a Christian who has it more pulled together, one who is more sanctified than broken.

I thought, one who was not me.

The enemy comes at us with all sorts of lies, darts aimed at our hearts. It’s his ammo, he tries telling us that God is not truly good and that His plans are poppycock. This is why it is imperative to armor up daily; why when we are walking through fire we need people there holding up our arms much like Aaron and Hur did for Moses.

The question remains: how do we sing when we’re in the fire?

The same way Daniel and his friends did.

My dear friend sent me the book Suffering is Never for Nothing by Elizabeth Elliot and friends please, if you have not read that book, I implore you to! That woman was so full of wisdom and example in how to sing in the midst of tribulation, how to carry on when your very foundation feels like it’s crumbling beneath you. I can count on one hand the number of books that have had such a profound impact on my life and Elliot’s is one of them. She taught that when we sacrifice our brokenness back up to God and simply do the next right thing, God is going to take care of us. He becomes our Foundation and gives us a Reason to sing.

“If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it may be because pieces will feed a multitude when a loaf would satisfy only a little boy.” – Elizabeth Elliot

God’s plan for our lives may look completely different than what we had planned, it may (often) be in pain that we offer our brokenness back to Him.. but friend take it from me, if we live the “broken way” (as Ann Voskamp – another favorite of mine – refers to it) that small kernel offered, becomes a wheat field that will go on to feed many.

I will not pretend learning to sing has come easy or that I am perfect at it (truly, I am quite tone deaf in all matters related to singing not just hypothetically in this season).. in this season my voice at times feels scratchy, it feels hoarse. There are times I need to ask someone who is holding my arms up to sing the words I so desperately need to hear back to me. I truly do have to be diligent in seeking the Lord’s face so that I do not forget the song He has placed on my heart.

The truth is that suffering adds a certain beauty to music, a beauty that would simply not be there if having never walked through it. Suffering is beautiful. Perhaps it’s beauty is wrapped in grief, but nonetheless, it is one of the most precious lessons the Lord can give His children. I have seen God right next to me in this fire. Truly if this wave is the one that throws me into His arms, I am thankful for it. There is no other place I would rather be.

We may never have a third child. The pages of that chapter may have ended, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that the Lord is good. I can tell you that even here, in this midst of one of the hardest seasons I have walked through, I am able to sing because of His love for me.

Oh how He loves.

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

If you too are walking through the fire, if you have forgotten the words of the song of your heart, my prayer is that you would be encouraged to lean into the everlasting arms of our Savior and hear Him singing over you, to hear Him rejoicing over you.

Soli Deo Gloria there is Hope! 

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