We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.
- Anaïs Nin
One year ago this week I thought I was beginning to miscarry a baby. I had all the signs of miscarriage. So when I sat down on that ultrasound table it was with 100% certainty that I thought I would hear “there is no heartbeat.” I didn’t even pray for a heartbeat. Instead I prayed for grace to face another miscarriage again, to pass another dead baby—again.
But God had other plans for this baby. These plans were far beyond what I would have dreamed up. In many ways, these plans would have been my worst nightmare.
He had plans for this baby that I feared was dead.
“We are all just limping towards the finish line,” Daniel said to me a few weeks ago after we were talking about the great loss a friend had endured.
If you live long enough, you will find that this world is a dark and scary place. Very few Christians make it to glory without first walking through some deep valleys. Year after year, God breaks us and strips us of all self-sufficiency. He humbles us and brings us low. He gives and he takes away, and we beg for the grace to bless his name in the midst of it all.
We are a people of second chances. Even when it’s hard, we are prone to forgive those who sin against us, hoping that maybe they will treat us differently the next time. We give our children chance after chance after chance to obey (or try again next time). We give those who break the law second chances to live life differently. Second chances, in many ways, are built into our souls. We want them for ourselves and we grant them to others.
A few weeks ago my sons were watching the popular children’s show, Doc McStuffins on television. I’m a big fan of Doc McStuffins. I like the diversity the show brings to the table. I like that the main character is a girl and a doctor. I like that she is African-American and portrayed in a positive light. I like that she is kind and helps people. It even holds my attention when my kids are watching it.
I wish I could say I always pay close attention to what they are watching. True confession: I don’t. While we don’t let them watch things that we haven’t vetted, I don’t filter every piece of content once we have approved it.
I learned my lesson.
A few years ago I was struck by the reality that the life I now live is often harder than the one I lived before God saved me. I didn’t get saved until early adulthood, so I have vivid memories of life before Christ. My life was certainly empty, but it was very different, and in many ways easier. Life after Christ became richer, but harder. It became hopeful, but filled with greater difficulty. I had joy, but not necessarily unending happiness. My sins were forgiven, but sometimes there wasn’t much else to rejoice in. The more I grew, the more I realized that I’m not alone. I even started seeing that the pattern of scripture is pain now, relief later (Rom. 8:22-24). God’s people must walk through a lot before they get the promised land, before they get glory (Acts 14:22).