Monday, September 24

Here I raise my Ebenezar

I began putting this post together in January/February, and I can tell from what I originally wrote, I was in a brighter place back then. The difficulty and sadness that I've been experiencing lately makes no less potent the following emails, blog posts and notes from my friends.

Lately on this journey,  I've been made very aware of the support and friendship that I have been given - a gift from the Lord.  I walk through the valley of the shadow, but my friends have their arms about me.

"I pray for you a lot on Sundays, when I glance over to the back few rows on the east side of the sanctuary. I imagine you and Adam there, and I am reminded to lift up your body and your spirit before our gracious God. Jesus was fully capable of changing the hearts and minds of everyone around her [the woman who bled for 12 years] so that she wouldn't be seen as an outsider, but instead He healed her body. What I'm saying is, as much as we may pray for God to transform attitudes and desires, I'm also still praying -- with deep conviction and fervency -- for Him to honor the promises that are bound up in the Incarnation and to have mercy on your body, too."

"Oh Hannah...(deep sigh). I don't really have enough words, but I do have tears.  I'm sorry to hear this news.  I do pray that your surgery results will be more positive than negative, that God would provide a miracle.  He can.  I know this. Love you and miss you terribly."

"But I'm glad that you still have a place for me. Despite the miles and years and experiences that may separate us, I am still that friend who stayed up all night with you talking about everything, and I am only a phone call away."

"Thank you for sharing your heart - being able to walk with you on this in any sort of meaningful way, much less a way that has been helpful, encouraging, or made you laugh, feels like such a privilege. Being an instrument of grace always awes me, mostly because I'm very VERY aware of how much I swear!"

I didn't have the chance yet to respond to your post about helping someone through infertility, but I so appreciated what you had to say. When you wrote earlier you mentioned that people are uncomfortable around suffering -- what to do with the normally upbeat girl who bursts into tears when you say 'hello'? Obviously there's no better teacher than experience for how to walk with people through suffering, but there's a lot to be said for telling people flat out: no, it's not helpful to offer advice about taking your temperatures every month or your cousin who just adopted. Yes, a wordless hug is adequate and welcome. 

(from a blog about our journey of friendship) But my love for her wouldn’t let me be someone who faded into the background, so I had to do something. In the end, I decided to write her a letter. A handwritten one, because she's worth it. In it, I said that I didn’t know what to say to her...other than how deeply sad I was for her. I didn’t know how to react...other than to pray. Basically, I didn’t know what to do...other than be available. In short, all I had to give was myself." 

Hannah, I wanted to tell you that C and I prayed for you last night with tears. love you so much,

Oh, Hannah. Oh, Hannah. I'm so very sorry. What difficult news and statistics to hear. I'm torn between being optimistic and saying "F*** the numbers," and being realistic and mourning with you. Maybe I'll do both. We serve a great God who is so difficult to understand, because rather than protect you from this, He has somehow prepared you for it. And He will take your hand and walk you through it. And on the other side, somehow, there will be children. I'm just confident of that. You will know His abundance, and it will look differently than you expected, imagined, and hoped for. You will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

I'd already planned to email you about a time to get together next week, but after reading your blog just now, I feel even more intent on seeing you. My heart aches for you, Hannah, that you have to go through such a difficult time! I wish there were something I could do to ease the emotional, psychological, spiritual, & physical ache of this journey of infertility. I'm praying for you, and petitioning God on your behalf, and I know that's probably one of the best ways to help.

 It was hard and very painful for a long time - sometimes it still is. This area right here was the hardest for me and it took the longest to come back out into the light. I had to lay my heart open before the Lord over and over and over. It was actually a moment of real awakening when I realized for the first time that I was truly unable to be what I was supposed to be for others - happy and joyful for them. I came to the very end of myself and had to cry out to God for the strength to give myself over to Him and to let His righteousness fill me. That was the only way. Little by little He has done just that. 

Praying as always for success! I remember how it feels pointless to pray after a while: "Lord, you already know this. You've heard it from me a million times already." Mom sent me this quote from Charles Spurgeon the other day, "Prayer pulls the rope blow and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly. Others give but an occasional pluck at the rope. But he who wins with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously with all his might." I am trying to be that person of prayer for you. Besides the pregnancy you so long for I am also praying that you will be like the righteous man in psalm 112 who "is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm trusting in the Lord."

So here I raise my ebenezer. Samuel raised his ebenezer when the Lord gave complete victory over their enemies. May he do the same for me - giving me complete victory. But if not, my friends are each a rock to me, supporting me, as does the Rock of Ages. 


Laura Ward said...

You are wise and brave and full of faith, dear friend. Samuel named the altar Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the Lord helped us" - I'm praying the Lord is your helper now and always.

Addie said...

I have raised an ebenezer before, but instead of great hulking rocks, I took what I could carry: 12 small stones.

Still, it's a great word and a great monument to remember God's faithfulness. I think I even recognize one of the paragraphs! (The one about swearing too much? Because that sounds about right.)

With octaves of a mystic depth and height