Since I often talk about the importance of getting into the Word, I started a series where I share one scripture or passage of scripture each Wednesday and talk about why it has meant so much to me. I hope it encourages you to get into the Word and to use these scriptures as starting points perhaps, but to also find meaningful things in the Bible on your own as well.
Ever since my first miscarriage I feel like I've been on a roller coaster; highs and lows that I feel are out of my control. But I've noticed there is one thing that keeps me stable, and that is God's Word. Hebrews 4:12 says that it is ALIVE, meaning that we can interact and engage with it! When you open His Word with an open mind, He will fill it as you read and you will walk away feeling encouraged, challenged, peaceful, and joyful no matter your earthly circumstances!
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee
w h i t h e r s o e v e r
| JOSHUA 1:9 |
Oh man, I could write a book about this verse! I specifically chose to quote the KJV above because I love how it says, "for the LORD thy God is with thee WHITHERSOEVER thou goest." Many other versions just say, "wherever you go." For some reason "whithersoever" sounds very intense to me and all encompassing of the promise given to us in this verse.
I've actually already written a whole post about this scripture and its importance to me here. And I know I mention it quite often, but that is because I've never had a scripture give me such tremendous and far-reaching peace in a literal life and death experience.
That life and death experience was when my daughter's heart stopped beating in my womb, yet my heart kept beating. I think that is a very defining moment in any woman's life, whether she follows Christ or not; whether she believes in the sanctity of unborn life or not. To have death visit you in your own body is truly heartbreaking. And the very reason I blog and create other content is because I want women going through similar life and death experiences to know Christ. Without Him, I'm convinced I'd be stuck in a deep, dark depression. But because of Him, I have joy even on my most sorrowful and dark days.
Last week I wrote that my friend Melissa sent me a link to scriptures for fighting fear during my second pregnancy and two verses jumped out at me: Isaiah 41:13 and Joshua 1:9. I feel like the word "fear" doesn't even come close to adequately describing how terrified I was of losing our second child. I pleaded with the Lord every single day to please not let this child die. I told Him I couldn't handle it, that I would break. And that is truly how I felt at the time; our first loss was still pretty fresh and I was still heartbroken over it. I literally could not fathom how I'd survive another heartbreak of the same magnitude.
And those were just my emotional fears. I was also deeply terrified of physically miscarrying again. I'll spare you the details, but it is traumatizing to watch your body reject your child. Not to mention extremely painful. I was so scared. I thought I might die if I had to go through it all again.
However on August 27th, the Saturday before we found out there was no heartbeat, I started experiencing some scary symptoms. Namely some pretty strong cramps. I was almost in denial; I didn't want to acknowledge what could be happening and I was sick of being the girl that couldn't fight her fears on her own, so I kept quiet. But eventually I asked some friends to pray and that is when Melissa sent me that list of scriptures for fighting fear.
As soon as I read Joshua 1:9, that word whithersoever jumped out at me. I had read that verse most likely hundreds of times before that night, but if I'm being honest, I usually breezed past it before I even got to "whithersoever," rolling my eyes at such a "cliche Pinterest" verse. But that night, literally AS SOON as I read it, I envisioned myself in the bathroom, going through the dreadful physical aspects of a miscarriage. But the Lord whispered to my heart, "Yes, Jessica, EVEN THERE."
I think sometimes we are a little too modest with God. I've literally thought before, "I can't pray in the shower, He'll see me naked!" Um, He created me. It's fine. And it sounds funny, but it's often in our messiest, most shame-filled moments that we need Him the most, yet are too timid to call out to Him.
So it was kind of awkward to envision God being with me as I filled a toilet bowl with blood. But He was saying to me through that scripture, "Yes, even there.. ESPECIALLY there!" And I've never felt more comforted. Suddenly I knew that if I were to lose this second child too, I'd make it. It wouldn't be easy, but I'd survive. Each day after that as I'd experience a new scary symptom or thought, I'd remind myself -- even there.
Then, on September 1st, we found out there was no heartbeat. I was so devastated that I was numb if that makes any sense. My doctor scheduled me for surgery the very next day and I was terrified. I was terrified of the surgery, but I think I was even more terrified of how I'd feel when I woke up. I told Michael I hoped I'd die right there on the table. All I wanted was an escape from this awful, sin-sick, cursed world. I don't think I'll ever forget the disgust I felt for this world that first week after we learned there was no heartbeat. I wanted nothing to do with the world that took my babies away; I just wanted the New world where I'd be reunited with them.
But as we drove to the hospital and my chest felt like it was caving in from the anxiety, and as I was being prepped for surgery and silent tears rolled down my cheeks, and as I heard nurses ordering pitocin for me (a drug used to induce pregnant women), and as I was rolled back into the OR, being blinded by the uncomfortably bright lights, I kept saying EVEN THERE in my mind. I knew the Lord was with me because I could feel Him holding me.
I woke up crying. Before I even realized that I was awake I was already crying for what my soul knew was lost. They brought Michael back and he so tenderly took care of me as I recovered; feeding me ice chips, helping me take sips of Sprite, and feeding me sherbet. His presence and care for me felt like the Lord loving and caring for me. Sometimes it's the strange peace we feel in the midst of the storm, sometimes it's through other people loving us, but the Lord finds so many ways to be with us and show us that He's there.
Several days later as I was reflecting on Joshua 1:9, a passage of scripture came to mind that I couldn't quite place so I googled it. I found what I was looking for: Psalm 139:7-10. I had read Psalm 139 earlier that week, on the day where we were told there was no heartbeat. I had arrived to our appointment early and flipped open to that chapter. I guess in the midst of my anxiety and desire to get to the verses about being formed in the womb and being fearfully and wonderfully made (verses 13-14), I had missed verses 7-10:
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; EVEN THERE shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
My heart almost stopped as I read that last sentence. Even there. God had dropped scripture into my mind when I needed it most and I hadn't even realized what He was doing. This experience is a wonderful reminder to me of why it's so important to be in His Word; He prepares you for all sorts of things when you commit it to memory. Those two words carried me through some of the darkest days of my life before I even realized they were from His Word.
And whithersoever I go, I know that He will be even there.
Remember to check out what my friend Anne Marie is doing over at The Loved Bible Project! She wrote this sweet post about Wednesdays In The Word and how we are teaming up! Each week I will continue to post about a scripture that has helped me in my time of loss and Anne Marie is going to make a free printable that you can find in her Resources page! We encourage you to print it out and spend time soaking in God's Word as you decorate it and then include it in your own Bible or start working on a Loved Bible!