This is the devotion I wrote for church this week. Portions of it are excerpted from my book, And Then You Were Gone: Restoring the Broken Heart after Pregnancy Loss which I'm excited to say will be published this spring by Pleasant Word. I'm looking forward to seeing what God wants to do with our story.
From God's Word:
Click and Read Hebrews 10:19-25
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching. -Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)
Church was an almost unbearable place to be after my miscarriages. Each week I would think to myself, “OK, I’m fine today,” but the desire to leave would hit immediately as I entered the building.
I tried week after week to “be strong this time” and would make myself sit down in the sanctuary. As worship began, the music stirred emotions, leaving me vulnerable, and the tears would inevitably start falling. I knew, “I have to get out of here or I’m going to start bawling,” but I realized walking out would allow everyone to see I had been crying. If I stayed, I wouldn’t be able to keep from sobbing and causing a scene. I was trapped. Choosing to leave the sanctuary, I wandered around until the service ended trying to get myself under control and presentable before anyone could see me.
Picking up my daughters from their classes, I would run into well meaning people who were unaware of the situation. They would look at me with a quizzical look and innocently ask, “Now when are you due again?” It was awful explaining everything, watching these sweet people become mortified because they had hurt me by asking.
This struggle continued for months. It was just too painful and embarrassing to be there, and there were constant reminders of what I lost. Churches are full of pregnant women and babies. One service ended for me when I opened the bulletin and read the advertisement for the upcoming Father/Son campout.
Knowing I needed to be there, by God’s strength I continued to show up to services and Bible studies week after week. I was constantly embarrassed by my weakness. Telling myself, “I’m not going to cry this time,” didn’t work. I always ended up in tears. I hated being so publicly emotional, but I didn’t know how to stop it.
There is no verse in the Bible that says, “God helps those who help themselves.” Most Americans believe it is in there somewhere because it is a cultural tradition, yet the truth is God helps those who run to Him in weakness, and rely upon His grace.
He also places us in a spiritual family so we can be helped by each other. Our key verse says, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
As difficult as it was to control my emotions when I was at church, had I been able to stop the flow of emotion or hidden my pain, I would have robbed other believers of an opportunity to use their gifts to minister to me.
I was amazed how many times God lined up specific people to minister to me during those times I struggled to be at church. When I left the sanctuary, some woman who had also miscarried in the past would “magically” appear to pray with me. When I felt alone and emotional, someone would hug me. When I needed a word from the Lord, someone would read scripture that spoke directly to my heart. When I was in Bible Study, people said things they didn’t know where meant for me. I experienced the work of the Spirit through the love, prayers, hugs, words of prophecy and wisdom that came from the flesh and blood people in my church family. We have a large church, but it became small as people poured out love on me.
Some of the best comfort came from women who had been there. They could minister in a way no one else could. After she read 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, my friend Jeanine began praying she would have an opportunity to comfort someone else in the way she had been comforted when she miscarried. If I had run away from church and fellowship, then I would have not been a part of that prayer being answered.
It feels good to be used by the Lord. When we are weak, we allow others the privilege of being used by the Lord in our circumstance. Pastor Bob tells us often that when Christians go off on their own they “get weird.” We need each other. As we draw near to God, He often sends us to our spiritual family for some love and comfort. Don’t run away.
Excerpt from And Then You Were Gone: Restoring the Broken Heart after Pregnancy Loss. All rights reserved. Do not copy or use without author's permission.
Do you ever find yourself embarrassed over your emotion or weakness at church or around other Christians?
Remember that by allowing yourself to be weak, you allow others the joy of using their God-given gifts in response to your circumstances.
Dear Lord, Prevent me from running from fellow believers when I'm feeling weak or am hurting. Thank you for providing a spiritual family to comfort me and for giving them gifts to help me in my time of need. Thank you for the joy we all feel when we get to use our gifts to bring comfort to other people. In Jesus' Name I pray,
More of God's Word:
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. - Romans 12:4-8 (NIV)