We were married in April, and God smiled on us. The fickle Western Pennsylvania sun shone bright in a
cloudless sky. We danced long into the night, and life was beautiful.
Two months later, I was curled tight on my bed in a stuffy Maryland apartment, asking God where we’d
I thought that if God led and then I followed, life would flow smoothly. And I was utterly wrong.
God led us to our first apartment. Nothing on our list was working and time was short, so when we passed
the ad for an affordable complex we’d missed, it seemed like our answer.
By summer, we weren’t so sure. Airplanes landing at the airport shown spotlights at our couch; the
constant roar of traffic and the crowded complex tore at my introverted husband’s soul; and bedbugs tore
at my skin by night and at my mind by day.
I thought God had forgotten us, or that I had failed to follow Him.
That trial ended in November. We moved to a beautiful apartment in the upper story of a storage barn on
a horse farm, and found good in the bedbugs that made it easy to break our lease.
“Let’s remember this,” he told me. “God can make anything good.”
But I didn’t remember.
I learned I was pregnant New Year’s Eve, stunned that God would up-end my carefully crafted plan. But as weeks passed, I accepted that His plan was better. When I didn’t feel movement, fear began to creep n. “But God gave me this child without me asking,” I told myself. “So don’t worry.”
God took my daughter before I ever met her.
Lynn was stillborn April 24, 2008, weighing just ounces and with perfectly formed, thread-thin fingers on her tiny hands.
For a long, long time I doubted God.
My husband had been unhappy at his job since we were married, and the fall after Lynn died he started a Master’s degree. It paid off; in September 2009 he was offered a perfect position in Syracuse, N.Y. I thought maybe God remembered us after all.
He had to pass a polygraph first, and he worried because he knew too much about those tests, the inaccuracies and problems that plague them. I told him God had opened that door, so he’d do fine.
The results were inconclusive, the job lost, and we cried the hours back to Maryland.
Slowly a picture was forming. God gave guidance, we followed, and bad things happened.
Think of Israel. God miraculously, spectacularly, brings them out of Egypt through walls of water; andleads them with cloud pillars and flames of fire into a desert with – get this – no food and no water and hostile nations eager to plunder their livestock. Strange leading, isn’t it?
But we have the benefit of hindsight.
God wanted Israel to learn to trust Him whatever the circumstances, and He always provided in the end.
He’s given me chance after chance to trust Him, too.
That long drive from Syracuse to Maryland, I promised that I would not fail the test this time. This time, I said, I would choose faith.
This February God led us again, to a good place. He flung doors wide open; doctoral studies for my husband, dream job for me, a 1950s house we bought this summer. I think He’s brought us here for the doctorate; but this time, I’m not sure it’s going to work out the way I expect.
Maybe we’re here for something else.
Either way, I say with Job: Though He slays me, yet will I trust Him.
By Heather Roth
thank you for sharing so honestly and beautifully Heather…
i guess i had you in mind when i wrote this last paragraph here:
the Lord is growing you into incredibly beautiful…and in the heartache that is this life–it’s the hardest, the disappointment, the things that break our heart that given to Him create something so, so beautiful…this is who you are. Be blessed…Abby:)
Besides being a beautiful post, this really spoke to my heart this morning because it rang so true w/ my life at this point! Thanks SO much for sharing your heart!
Just this morning I read about the Isrealites going through the Red Sea. What an amazing leading….and, like you said, only to find more desert, no food and no water.
We’ve recently been through a family experience that has rocked this mama’s heart and world, especially because I thought, as you have, “I’m following God’s leading, and so is my son; so why is he plagued with thoughts of ending his life due to tragedies that have come his way that he didn’t ask for?” For a mother to realize that her child no longer wants the life God gave to him (through her) is an emotional burden that I never dreamed I’d have to bear. While my son went through his private and personal anguish, I did the same on this end, half a country away, not knowing what to do. It was during this time that I have been reading Exodus, and the parallels have been stunning.
Thanks for your honest post. I’m coming to learn that God doesn’t always pad us with coziness, happiness, comfort and consistency; but His concern is always focused on our character. His motivation for doing what He does is to ensure that we become like Him, and He takes us on many desert roads sometimes so that we will be conformed to His likeness. He knows that in the end, that’s all that really matters.
I wish I could have known all that before the trials hit, instead of thinking that I’d gone wrong somewhere. The trials still would have been hard and painful, but maybe not rock my faith so much. But maybe that’s something you can’t learn until you live it… And hopefully it’s something I can remember and continue to learn from.
Jenni Saake "InfertilityMom" says
My heart hurts for you in the death of your beautiful Lynn and all the other painful realities of new marriage. We started out on a similar rocky path. 18 years later, there have been many ups and downs (we are calling this our “James year” as in, “Consider it all joy whenever you face trials of many kinds…”) but God is ever-faithful!
Funny, I just started memorizing that book (James). It’s awfully encouraging, isn’t it?
Heather, thank you so much for opening your heart and sharing this post. It was almost uncanny how much of myself I could see in your words. I have been going through a tough time lately, questioning God and His grace, plans for me, etc., and news that I received last Thursday truly overwhelmed me. I was crushed in spirit, truly broken-hearted, ashamed and angry. To see me externally, you would think I’m a woman who has it all together – I’m in the healthcare profession, and colleagues see me as someone who is highly motivated, efficient, strong, and someone who “just gets things done.” But if they had only seen me that day…I was so crushed that all I could do was curl up in bed, so miserable that I felt physically sick, and sob like a baby, begging God to take this misery from me. It truly was one of the lowest points of my life. But you know what? Slowly, I felt God’s love and peace embrace me, softly I heard His voice calling to me in the darkness, telling me that He will never forsake me. And slowly, things are getting resolved, not in my own way, not in my own time, but in His. And I think that’s what He wants from me, from us – to let things go. To acknowledge that I cannot do things on my own, that my strength and efforts will never be enough, but even so – that’s okay. Because God’s grace is sufficient for ALL things, and I really needed in that dark time to learn to let go and trust Him. To really trust Him and surrender all aspects of my life to Him. And in that brokenness, I had no choice BUT to do so, because I had nothing else. We may not always understand why things happen to us, but I suppose, in the end, that’s what faith is: trusting in Him and His unwavering grace and promises to us, even when we, with our limited human eyes and thoughts, cannot begin to understand. So thank you again for this beautiful, vulnerable, and moving post, and letting God speak to so many of us sisters through your words.
Janis@Open My Ears Lord says
What a journey in such a short time! But an all important one. I pray that the lessons and wisdom you have gained during this time will support you and grow your trust in God, even when the circumstances of life do not bring the blessings you expect. God does bring a time of refreshment to recharge our faith and our energy for the road ahead. Remember always–He is Faithful!
Notes from one who has been on this journey for many, many years already.
I Live in an Antbed says
Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him–it truly is the only way to live. Your faith brings Him Glory.
Kim Trick says
Heather, Thank you for being so open and honest in this post. It seems like God always finds a way to speak to me through the (in)courage women, and I identified with so much of what you said.
I’ve had a similar string of left my career this year to go back to school after I felt like God called me to a career in health care. But just this week I was hit with a huge wave of doubt and I thought if this is God’s plan, shouldn’t it be easier? I started to question if I even knew His will for my life at all.
I’ve been asking God all week to show me if I’ve taken the wrong direction in trying to get where He asked me to go. And I’m so glad that God used your words to catch my attention today and show me that just because I’m a broke student again, just because my boyfriend and I have to save up for a few more years for a wedding, just because I’ll be 30-something by the time I have children doesn’t mean I’m not right where He wants me. I needed to be reminded that being in the place God wants us, doesn’t always mean being rich and carefree and sure of everything. Sometimes it just means relying on Him and knowing He’ll give us what we need each step of the way.
Thank you for such a great post.
“Sometimes it just means relying on Him…” WHY is that so hard?!?! Thanks for sharing your story, it’s amazing how many of us, in our own circumstances, are learning the same things.
Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms says
Thank you for this, Heather! You beautifully write how trusting Him in all things isn’t easy but always fruitful. He is faithful! Thanks for blessing me with this message today!
Holley Gerth says
Heather, thanks for sharing this–love your stubborn faith and determination to cling to God no matter what. We just got home from church and our pastor talked about how spiritual maturity isn’t perfection–instead it’s progress and a refusal to quit no matter what. I thought of his words again when I read your post. Keep going, girl! And thanks for helping us have the courage to do the same too.
Leslie Knight says
I am reading Deuteronomy right now. I felt called to read it. And I have been leaning into some of it, recognizing the importance it holds for my life currently, but I have also been praying not to wait like the Israelites did and quite possibly missing the point.
We have been through many trials too. Many have been ones God led us too. Many times we have wondered why He led us there. We still do. We have wondered how He will provide. And He always does – even though I often do not remember it when the next trial comes.
I read this earlier today and thought it fit with where I was but forgot about the wisdom when we faced another trial – instead racing into tears and anger and anxiety and worry. I prayed and reread it. I am bookmarking because I know I will need this reminded again soon.
If only we could learn something once, and then know it! I used to be horrified when I’d read Exodus, wondering how anyone could be so faithless. But now… well, I guess I know how, now, that I’ve been there. And I’m with you, just praying that God keeps me from missing the point of the trials He sends.
Amy Sullivan says
Thanks for sharing your powerful story of some of your struggles. Thank you for reminding us not to let go.
This is a beautiful story and I am always amazed when people go through such adversities and still hold onto their faith. It’s not an easy thing in times like that, but you held strong and I have to say that is impressive. God’s blessings on this new direction and may it be all that God would want and more!
You spoke beautifully and straight to my heart. I am there right now. Last October we got pregnant with a surprise baby (our 3rd pregnancy; 2 miscarriages in 2008) and I felt like God had ordained this baby. Everything was too perfect for it not to be God’s plan, she was even due the day before my birthday and I had so desperately wanted a baby before I reached that age. She was born still on March 4, 2010, much to our heartbreak. I could go on and on with stories similar to the ones you wrote about (broken promises, lost jobs, broken hearts), but you are so right…when we choose to trust God through the trials we can be truly blessed.. Thank you so much for giving me the much needed reminder as the holidays get closer and the pity parties start!