Why must faithful followers of Jesus undergo sufferings? That was my question I raised (yelled, cried, begged) to God for the last two years. My husband and I got married in 2009, and gave birth to our daughter, Annemarie Grace, nine and a half months later. Nine and a half months of morning/afternoon/middle-of-the-night sickness, saltines and mayonnaise, aching back, buckling knees, and falling asleep sitting up. After 54 hours of labor (which you know she’s gonna hear about every time she gives me trouble), our sweet girl came out bluish gray and not breathing. Our midwife said, “If you are truly people of prayer, now is the time to pray. Your daughter is not breathing.” As we prayed that God would fill her lungs with the same breath that He breathed into Adam, Annemarie took her first breath. Praising God, and thinking we were “out of the woods”, we felt relieved at what God had gotten us through.
Two weeks later, Annemarie was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis, and went in for emergency surgery. Three days after being released from the hospital, her internal stitches ripped open, which resulted in an incisional hernia. Another surgery could not be performed until her abdominal muscles would be able to hold stitches- in about a year. We were left with a baby who screamed constantly, vomited every meal, and needed to be held upright for 45 minutes after every feeding. Where was God in all of this? He was in the same place He is right now- next to us, holding our hand. After four months of tear-filled days and nights of prayer, God instantaneously healed our precious Annemarie. A dear friend, filled with the healing power of Jesus Christ, laid hands on her on August 3, 2010. Her acid reflux, incisional hernia, and pyloric stenosis were completely GONE the next morning.
My husband and I experienced a taste of God’s love for us that day, but had no idea the trials we would have to face in the upcoming year. We were called away from our home church, the only church I had ever known. Shawn lost his job, Annemarie continued to struggle with her development, and we could no longer afford to live in our tiny one-bedroom apartment that we all shared. From my perspective, things looked like a mess. Then I remembered something my spiritual godmother told me: On earth, we see the bottom of the quilt- all the knots and loose strings, etc. When we get to heaven, we will see the top of the quilt- the beautiful masterpiece and the reason for all of the trials.
1Peter1:6-7 gives us a glimpse at why we endure suffering:
“…though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
As Peter wrote to his fellow Christians in 1Peter5:9, I urge you to stand firm in your faith. We are on the ugly side of the quilt, looking at all the frayed ends and horrible mess that has been made. Jesus came to “comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair.” (Isaiah 61:3)
As this season of trials is coming to a close (and I know more will come), I am so grateful for my Comforter, Deliverer, and Healer. God upheld me and carried our family through. God gave Shawn a wonderful new job, blessed us with our new CityLights family, and continues to make us laugh through our little girl. He is worthy to be praised, no matter what the circumstance! He has brought beauty from the ashes, and replaced our mourning with praise.