Monday, February 16, 2009

Be Strong and Courageous

This past week I signed up to participate in a 7- week women's Bible study at our church. It's a precept Bible study which I have heard from others are really good. This particular one is on the book of Joshua. I am really looking forward to it, and it's been a while since I have been part of a focused, meaty study.

I got up this morning with my coffee and started on the first day of lesson 1, which took me through Joshua 1. This is the part right after Moses has died, and the Lord tells Joshua that he is going to lead the people in crossing the Jordan River. What I had forgotten that was tucked away in Joshua 1 were some verses I needed to hear this morning:

No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." ~ Joshua 1:5-9

To be honest, over the past year or so, I have felt incredibly forsaken. Even though I know I haven't been, because God's word is true and it never changes even when our circumstances do, I still have felt pretty abandoned by God at times... feeling like He hasn't shown up in the way I had pleaded, or that He has let us encounter sorrow upon sorrow. And there have been plenty of times over the past year that I have been both terrified and discouraged... terrified about Isaac's prognosis, terrified that we'd show up for an ultrasound only to find out that Isaac's heart had stopped beating, terrified that God wouldn't grant us the miracle so many had been praying for, terrified that the spinal would hurt, terrified that we would never know joy again. There have also been plenty of times we have been discouraged... discouraged when we found out that Isaac's omphalocele incorporated so many of his abdominal organs, discouraged when he were told that he didn't have enough lung tissue to survive outside of the womb.

More recently, though, it is clear to me that God has been so present; that He hasn't forsaken us.

Recently, I was e-mailing with a friend who had asked me how I have been able to guard my heart against bitterness. To be honest, I am not sure that I completely have. But, what I do know is that bitterness creeps in when my eyes are focused on the ways that God didn't seem to come through. But when I stop to really consider how present He has been, how He has used His people meet us in our time of brokenness and grief... I can clearly see that God hasn't forsaken us; He is with us, and He has been very present.

He was present at each of the ultrasounds where he enabled Spencer and I to enjoy looking at our sweet Isaac... to watch him wiggle and kick and give us his thumbs up.


He was present throughout my pregnancy, allowing us to enjoy talking to Isaac, playing him music, and feeling him kick.


He was present on October 7 when we met our beautiful son... in the peacefulness that Isaac had, and even in the joy that He allowed us to experience despite it being a time unspeakable heartache.


He was present on October 11 when we had a small family graveside burial service.


He was present on October 18 when we had Isaac's memorial service and celebrated and honored Isaac's life.


And He has been present every day since... meeting us on some days in our brokenness, and on other days in restoring our joy.


Twice in that passage God admonishes Joshua to be "strong and courageous." Coupled with that, God promises to not leave or forsake Joshua. Knowing that he isn't alone, Joshua can go forward in great confidence; and so can we.

I just want to encourage you... whatever it is that you may be facing, whether it's the death of your child or something else that feels insurmountable, know that you aren't going at it alone... even if it may feel like it. God is there, He is present, He will meet you in your brokenness... and He will enable you to walk/limp/crawl through both strongly and courageously.

36 comments:

The Potter's Hand said...

You are a blessing to me...by the way I love the CD...Thanks again!!! Please know I pray for you daily! God Bless you!

heidi marie said...

i'm so glad that you started a bible study. i can only imagine how much it will help you grow closer to God and find more peace.

Anonymous said...

I really needed to hear that today. Sometimes I don't think I can be "strong and courageous" but after reading that verse and seeing that God says He will not leave me...when I picture that it gives me strength to take the next step. Thank you for sharing- I look forward to hearing more from your Joshua study.
Nicole

tracy said...

Stacy...you really touched me this morning. I checked your blog as I have done everyday for months, and saw the heading 'Be Strong and Courageous', it brought tears to my eyes. Today is the 5th anniversary of my beloved husbands death. He died at 39 after an 11 month battle with colon cancer. On February 9th , 2004, after we had just told our 3 kids that there was not much time left, I asked him what he wanted me to do for him. He said to be strong. In the days that followed everywhere I turned, Joshua 1:9 came at me. After he went to heaven on Feb. 16, I had key chains engraved with that verse for all our family members. As we try to live a life to honor him, we too refuse to let bitterness affect our hearts. We know we are not alone, God is with us. It has been a long hard journey that we have been sent on, some day we will know 'why', but
then we too will be in heaven! Thank you for being an inspiration to SO many!

Kelly, KKM from the nest said...

I really needed this today. Thank you

Rachel said...

You are such a blessing to a lot of people. I needed this as well! Joshua is a great book..I just got done doing a youth conference this weekend and the verse was Joshua 24:15 Talks about serving the LORD and being obedient to him NOW..not tomorrow or the next day...We also learned that the past is the past...Choose THIS DAY to serve our God and praise him for HIS great works and give Him ALL the glory!Thank you soo much for your faithfulness! I truly enjoy reading.

Your sister in Christ*

Tammy said...

I loved this today. thank you for continuing to poor your heart out to us and teaching...yes, teaching me!

Ebe said...

What a beautiful post.

No, He never forsakes us, but almost everything around us tells us that He did...especially when we compare what we've experienced to what other people have.
It is so hard to believe.

Thank you opening up your heart to others and sharing what God is doing in your life. It is beautiful.

Your little Issac is so precious.

Lynette said...

Thank you
Holding you in my thoughts and prayers,
lynette x

Anonymous said...

I think God sent me to your blog today...I am friends with someone who has a link to your blog on her blog, so I clicked on it just now and so needed to hear that passage! I'm going thru a tough time in my marriage and often feel no direction is the right direction. Your last sentence brought me to tears as I was reminded that God is with me each moment. Thanks for that! I will keep you in my prayers.

Mommy (You can call me OM) said...

Stacy,
Thank you for this beautiful post. It is such a struggle to not feel alone in grief. I think I've developed a permanent lump in my throat. I wish I had your strength.

Anonymous said...

I think God really wanted me to get this message today. See, I get a daily verse,and here's the verse that was emailed to me this morning:
...fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10
Anyway, thanks for your message today, it was something I needed.

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Beautifully written, Stacy. I think of the verses that talk about "His strength being made perfect through our weaknesses". His strength is what shines through your journey, even as you feel weak, broken, terrified. And courage...courage and faith I have learned are not displayed in never feeling doubt or fear or even feeling forsaken. It's trusting God anyway, when you you didn't get the answer you asked for or when there seems to be no answer at all...clinging to Him when you're most afraid and filled with doubt and questions. When you believe that He will never leave you nor forsake you because He said so...not because you "feel" it every moment. You have been strong and courageous because you still trust in Him. And He has carried you...and He still does carry you. Thank you for these beautiful words, sweet friend. Praying you will continue feel His presence as He carries you...

Anonymous said...

Thank you.
connie

Chelsea Pang said...

Just what I needed to hear today. I need to work on implanting that (and all those other verses that say similar things) in my mind so as not to disswayed but the sadness and frustrations of this world.
I found out I am to work night shift (that is 730p-8a) this next month, which means I won't see my husband for 2-3 days at a time. Great Grace please!

Walking by Faith said...

Such a good post...great reminder to us all that whatever we go through...God never forsakes us! So often it's us who does the forsaking. You've inspired me to read Joshua again...it's a great book! Praying for you!~heidi

Lindsay said...

I was referred to your blog on my blog.... Your story is inspirational. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Lindsay
Mommy to Avi
www.rememberingavi.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I saw this site on another site I was reading and wasn't clear exactly what the circumstances were. I watched the video of your precious Isaac...how absolutely beautiful. I needed to hear Be Strong and Courageous today...you see...I lost my first grandson in Sept 2008. He was a still birth at 36 weeks. We were all devastated and this came with no warning the night of delivery. My heart yearns for our baby in heaven as well. The title of this blog is right in every way...He Will Carry Me and he has carried me. Even though our hearts are broken...I know God will take care of making sure our family is okay. God Bless You.

Poppy said...

Oh Stacey, I needed to hear those words today in the worst way. I'm struggling so hard to come to terms with the passing of my grandson and now trying to cope with the anger from my son and daughter in law and the estrangement from my granddaughter. I am in constant battle trying to remind myself that God has not forsaken me that He is here for me...even though many times I feel quite alone.

Your reminder was such a blessing to me.

Hugs to you.

Anonymous said...

Stacy, such a wonderful post. Thank you. You write so beautifully...I always read your blog. It's been such a blessing. I pray for you and Spencer often.

Elizabeth in Illinois

Ruth said...

thank-you

Miss V said...

Hi Stacy, I found your blog on the miscarriage and stillbirth site. It touched my heart. I'll be keeping you and your family in my prayers. I've subscribed to your blog as I'd love to see how you're doing and be an ear who will listen when the days are hard.

Your friend in California,
Veronnica Watson

Marci said...

beautiful post! i've lived through feeling forsaken and somehow God just keeps turning it into blessing in the midst of uncertainty! we see dimly now i know. blessings-

Danielle Holsapple said...

Thank you so much for this reminder...it is so very true!
Blessings -
danielle

Julie said...

This post really touched me today and moved me to tears. Tears for all you are feeling and your sweet Isaac. Tears for my angels Devin and Elizabeth who I miss so much. Tears for this life in general - tears of pain, but tears or joy and hope.

THank you for touching me today.

Rebecca Louise. said...

Being strong and courageous should be the motto to life. Thank you for sharing! xxx.

Mommy (You can call me OM) said...

I prized you with "Honest Scrap."

Nicole Swanger said...

Hi! I know you don't know me but I am cousins with emily on here (kenna and coops mom) I have been reading your blog through her page and you continue to inspire me in my walk with the Lord. I have no children yet, I just got married in December but am so looking forward to it and hope I can have as much faith and patience as you have!! Anyway it was strange I was in my car with my husband and the song "Held" by Natalie Grant came on and immediatly I thought of you....isnt that weird? I never met you and have no clue who you are but somehow I thought of you and your trials and thought this song was perfect for you... I hope you have a great day and I will continue to pray for you and your "heaven babies". :)

Nicole Swanger said...

I see that you have that song in your page.. I didn't notice it until after i posted!

Anonymous said...

Dear Stacy, Just wanted to let you know this post really touched me--how true it is that even when we can not feel God and His strength, He and his promise are still there. I hope your Bible Study is an enriching one. Much love, and we are still praying for you and your family, now and always, Jill and Andy

Jennifer said...

thank you

JR said...

Thank you for your transparency, and your words were exactly what I needed today as well.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.

Kendra S-L said...

I always want to thank you. I see God in you!!

mommyof2sons said...

Thank you! I really needed to read that post and verse today. Thank you for reminding me that God won't leave me!!

Anonymous said...

what you wrote in your blog is amazing, thank you so much (: