A little over four years ago my unborn daughter was diagnosed with a fatal condition that would claim her life shortly after birth. I spent the remaining four months of my pregnancy with the painful realization that the baby I was carrying would not be coming home with us. It was just as hard as you might imagine. Most pregnant women busy their days with preparations for bringing baby home – decorating the nursery, picking out adorable outfits, ensuring that the car seat is safely installed – every day is filled with excitement and anticipation for this new little life. I was unable to do any of that. The pain cut so deeply into my mama heart. And once she was born and passed away? There is hardly a word to describe the depth of that loss except to say that it feels like your heart has been ripped from your body. It is a feeling that no parent should have to endure.
Three years later, it happened to us again. This time our baby son. The pain was just as real and cut just as deeply.
People often ask me how I endured those experiences and how I managed to stay sane and live a normal life in the midst of something so awful. They often ask me how I was able to keep my eyes on Jesus and point others toward Him along the way. They ask me how I was able to find peace.
The very word conjures images of calm crystal waters shimmering under the glistening sunlight, of rocky mountains standing tall against a clear blue sky. We tend to think of peace as calm, relaxing, tranquil. Like a beach chair and white sand, the smell of sunscreen and time off work. Peace.
But life often fails to deliver that picturesque scene. And I am living proof that peace can be found even in the middle of the darkest, coldest, most violent storm because peace comes not from our circumstances but from the spirit of the living God who holds the universe in His mighty hands.
Philippians 4:7 calls the peace of God “the peace that surpasses all understanding”. That is exactly what the Lord gave me during those very trying times. Left to my own human capabilities and understanding I would have been incapable of finding peace. I would have driven myself to the psych ward with anger and depression and hopelessness. And most people would have looked at my life circumstances and been able to understand why.
But instead, because the Holy Spirit lives in me and I am capable of tapping into His supernatural peace at any moment in my life, my story was different. Because of God’s sovereignty I was able to trust that He was still good and what He was doing in my life was good, even if it felt very bad. And because of what Jesus did on the cross I knew that my babies were destined for a perfect eternity with Him and one day I would see them again. And because God is faithful to carry us through hard times, He gave me eyes to see the many things I still had to be thankful for. He gave me peace, even in this.
Please hear me when I say my peace in the midst of my circumstance did not look like those serene scenes described above. Not at all. I was still knee deep in the reality of my situation.
This peace was something I had to fight for. It wasn’t like a gentle wave that washed over me and replaced the feelings of angst and sadness. It was more like a weapon I knew was in my storehouse and I had to consciously take hold of it and intentionally focus on the truths of God’s word. Just like Ephesians 6 encourages us, I had to “put on” this peace.
I cried more tears over losing those sweet babies than I have ever cried in my life and speaking their story still brings tears to my eyes. I will never be the same. But still, underlying all of these emotions is peace. The general sense that everything is ok and will ultimately end up ok because the end of the gospel story is peace.
You might wonder how you would handle a situation like mine. To be perfectly honest, the me that I am now, a few years removed from it all, I kind of wonder how I did it too. But the truth is, the Lord gives such grace and peace during a time like that, a special grace and peace to carry you through what you need to get through. And it is a peace that truly surpasses all human understanding because it is supernaturally given through His spirit.
Sometimes life is truly difficult and we cannot understand why these hard things happen to us. But even in the absence of a peaceful circumstance we can trust that God’s spirit will give us the peace that we need to stay sane and grounded and focused on Him.