Monday, May 14, 2012

Standing In a Puddle

For the past several weeks at church, our message series has been called "Love Is...".  Through this series, 1 Corinthians 13 is being unpacked so that we can truly learn what love is {and isn't}.  Yesterday, being Mother's Day, our pastor preached on 1 Corinthians 13:17:










As soon as I saw this passage in our sermon notes, I shook my head thinking, man, this was going to be a tough one.  At the start of the message, our pastor asked that we read this scripture out loud as a congregation.  I looked at Ron and I said, "No way.  I can't."  As the congregation read this passage, the tears welled up in my eyes.  For the entire rest of the service I was fighting back tears.  Even at the end of the service.  I felt like I was standing in a puddle of tears by the time it was over.

Why?

Ron and I just celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary.  Now, I am not suggesting at all that we have had it worse than anyone else.  I know that is not the case.  There are many people out there who've had challenges far greater than ours.  Let's break it down. We were married in April 2000.  By August 2001, we had lost our first child - a son - who was stillborn.  It's not even just that.  In the process of losing him, I nearly died because of severe pre-eclampsia.  As if that weren't enough, two weeks later, I was on the verge of death {again} with a massive pulmonary embolism!  Then in 2003 we had a miscarriage.  In 2004, Moira was born after I endured a high risk pregnancy, but not before I wound up with another round of pre-eclampsia {which was caught well before it nearly cost me my life}.  In 2006, another high risk pregnancy with no illness this time, but which resulted in Peyton - a story which I share all throughout this blog.  Two weeks after Peyton was born, as she was going in for her second surgery of her short little life, I wound up in the ER with a massive pulmonary embolism in both lungs with a "saddle", meaning it spanned across from one lung into the other.  If I ever thought I was close to death before...well, lets just say the chief in the ER of one of the biggest trauma centers in the entire United States had never seen the likes of what he saw in my lungs.  Fast forward to 2010 which was the worst year of Peyton's life health-wise, which included 10 or 12 hospitalizations over the year, her health declining more and more each time.  It resulted in being put in touch with a palliative care nurse who, even now, still comes by to visit Peyton whenever she is in the hospital.  It also resulted in discussions with the doctors regarding Peyton's long-term plan for her life.  As in, do we or do we not put her on a vent {ever}, even if it's intended only to be for a short term to get her through an illness.  We discussed DNR orders for our then-4 year old child.  Oh, and in the middle of all that, my mom passed away that year.  All between our first and twelfth years of being married.

Did you notice that I said that Ron and I just celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary??

Celebrated.

We have beaten the odds.  Couples who experience the loss of a child experience high divorce rates.  Couples with a special needs child also experience high divorce rates.  I have heard something like 80%.  One thing after another, our marriage has been bombarded by events which could tear us apart permanently.  I am not suggesting that our married life has been a bed of roses and we have a picture perfect relationship.  There are incredible daily stressors on our relationship.

I think that 1 Corinthians 13:7 {NLT} needs to be the life verse for Ron and I.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

My word for 2012 is "endure" and this verse fits beautifully with that.  Through all of the challenges Ron and I have faced, we have never given up.  I know that I have had so many moments over the years where I felt like God wasn't with me and when I've felt so weak, helpless, and lost.  On Sunday, our pastor was preaching about why we need enduring love.  One of reasons was when we are tempted to give up on ourselves.  Just like when I was having all of these feelings of weakness and inadequacy - those are the times when I needed Him the most.  Those are the times when I need my husband's love the most.  When he is feeling those things, those are the times when he needs my love the most.

We were never guaranteed a life without trials.  Quite the opposite.  We were promised that we would have trials.  John 16:33 {NLT} says:

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

I am fortunate enough to be going through my trials with a partner.  Together, we can live out 1 Corinthians 13:7.  We need to practice this every single day.  The trials that will come will test our resolve.  John 10:10 {NIV} states:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

I don't know about you, but I want to use the things that God has equipped me with to fight against the power of the enemy every single day.  I don't want to be caught unaware.  Ephesians 6:11 {NIV} tells us to "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes."  Arm yourselves with scripture that you can pull out at a moment's notice to fight against the enemy.  Use everything God has given you to combat all of the negative forces when you find yourself in times of trial.  Do not let the enemy gain a foothold in one of your weak spots.

But in all things - in all circumstances - love.
Accept the love of God in your life, for it will endure forever.  That is a certainty.  Even if you aren't fortunate enough to be traveling the road with a partner, know that God's love is always right there for you.  He will endure forever.  He will never give up.  Through all circumstances, He is with you.
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