Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Samuels of Life

After suffering two miscarriages within three months, I started bleeding six weeks into my third pregnancy since Joel's birth.  I was convinced I was miscarrying again, and I laid on our bed and wept until I fell asleep.  When I woke up a few hours later, I remember thinking, "Well, if I'm going to lose this baby, I'd rather lose it now than later, and I'd definitely rather have another miscarriage than go through an entire pregnancy, birth this baby, and then lose him or her.  It could be worse.  This at least is better than that.  Lord, if I'm going to lose this baby, let it be now and not later."

I didn't miscarry.  That baby was Samuel, and I of course had no idea that we would go through exactly what I would have called the worst-case scenario, exactly what I prayed against.  But I would have been so wrong.  Miscarrying would not have been better.  I wouldn't have been spared the worst.  Instead, I would have missed out on the very best gift I could have gotten.  I would have missed out on Samuel.  I would have missed out on all he taught me, on all the ways God grew me and continues to grow me, on loving and knowing my beloved third son.  I would have missed it all and never known it.

I think so often we pray against the hard stuff of life.  We pray that God will spare us from heartbreak and suffering and loss and pain and hardship and sickness and sorrow and waiting and grief.  We pray that God will bless us with health, family, friendship, happiness, and prosperity...a life of ease and heaps of earthly blessings.  We ask Him to make the road smooth and our path unencumbered.

But I think we're missing something when we do that.  Perhaps it's faith -- faith that God knows what is best and can be trusted, that's He's good no matter what our circumstances are, that He is truly who He says He is and we can rest in Him, that He will give us what we need to face whatever lies ahead.  When we pray against the hard stuff, we forget that it's the broken places that produce the best stuff.  It's the heartbreak that leads to compassion, the suffering that leads to endurance, the loss that leads to contentment, the pain that leads to depth, the hardship that leads to peace, the sickness that leads to truer faith, the sorrow that leads to courage, the waiting that leads to patience, the grief that leads to greater love.  The very things we hope to avoid are the ones that refine us, that show us Jesus in previously unimagined ways, that deepen us, that solder us to God, that purify us.

Without fail, the hardest parts of my story are some of the most beautiful.  And if God had granted my prayers and the prayers of people who love me, I wouldn't have those chapters to my story, and I wouldn't be who I am.  I am deeply grateful for those hardships and how God has used them to shape me and change me and call me to Himself.  I shudder to think of my life without them.  What blessing and richness I would have missed out on if the suffering in my life was removed.

Honestly, I consider myself the most blessed momma in the whole world to have been given Samuel.  Probably from someone else's shoes I would read my story and think, "Oh, Lord, thank You for sparing me from that.  Thank You that it wasn't me."  But from my shoes, I say, "Oh, Lord, thank You from the depths of my being that You chose ME to be Samuel's mommy.  From all the people in the world, you chose ME to carry him, to birth him, to love him with all my heart, to sit by his side every possible moment I could during his month of life, to hand him over to you when his time on earth was finished, to cherish him in my heart all the days of my life.  You could have entrusted him to anyone, and You chose me.  Thank You, thank You, thank You."  I don't ask, "Why me?" in anguish; I say, "Thank You that it is me" in pure gratitude.

I'm challenged, since Samuel, to pray differently -- to lay my hands open and ask God for the courage to embrace whatever He has for me instead of beseeching him to spare me from the unseemly.   I want to walk what He has, not make a detour around the difficult and heartbreaking chapters.  I want to welcome His will for my life and the work He wants to do in my heart, not skate over the hardship and grief.  I want to trust Him enough to lay aside my hopes and wishes and instead ask for His hopes and wishes for me because I know that they are far better than anything I could desire.  I want the Samuels of life, not the free passes or diminished pain.  I want whatever it is that God wants for me. And I don't want to ask Him to spare me from it; instead I simply want the courage and faith to face it with His grace. 

"Oh, Lord, I want what You want.  Grant me the courage to accept whatever that may be.  Give me the faith to trust You regardless of circumstances, and grant me a malleable heart that I may learn whatever it is You want to teach me.  Help me not to fear hardship and sacrifice and suffering.  Help me instead to lean on You when those things come my way.  Give me the grace to embrace Your will for my life and to praise You every step of the way.  I open my hands, and I give you my life without exception.  Amen."


  1. This is beautiful, Kathryn. God has truly turned out worst nightmares into something beautiful to be used for His glory, and to draw us to Him. Thanks so much for helping me along this journey.

    1. Melissa, it's been such a privilege to walk alongside you a little bit as you grieve your Thomas. God does turn our nightmares into something beautiful, doesn't He? I am continually in awe at how He does it.

  2. You said this so well!!!!!!!!!!!!! You write beautifully!!

  3. Thank you, Katie. I thought of you a lot as I wrote this because I know you can relate. Your sweet Hallie is a tremendous gift!

  4. I love this and your beautiful heart. Obviously God knew just what He was doing when He entrusted Samuel and his story to YOU :-)

  5. Kathryn,

    I know this is an old post, but I've never taken the time to say thank you for writing it. I work with Bryan at the church and I started following your blog during the time Samuel was sick.

    I read this post a year ago and it literally took my breath away. I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me that soon I was going to truly understand the words you wrote in the blog entry. It scared me. I saved the entry in my blog reader not bearing to mark it as read worried that what I had heard the Holy Spirit say would actually be true and I would need to read it again. A week after you wrote this post, my mom had a stroke. Six months later, she died.

    This week marks the one year anniversary of the beginning of the hardest year of my life. But I'm thankful to say that you helped put in to words what I've been feeling. When I came back to this post and re-read your words they speak to me today like they did a year ago.

    Thank you for being open, honest and vulnerable about your life and your journey. It has meant so much to me.

    Kelli Briley