My kids came home with a little craft from bible school last week. It was a strange looking popsicle man with a verse tied to it. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” Genesis 50:20. As Luke practiced the verse out loud to me through the week, the truth of it stung my heart each time. Seemed like that word of God was more for me than my kids.
I can look back and see it more clearly now– but in the moments of pain it didn’t feel good. At all.
My story is a lot like many women. We had a healthy baby– he is a vibrant sporty 7-year-old now. But that baby arrived in a crazy whirlwind of stress and anxiety. They put me under during an emergency c-section as his heart monitor was dipping. I woke up later that night thinking I would have a baby in my arms. Instead my eyes opened to doctors and my sister around me telling me they were doing everything they could for my baby. But they wouldn’t say he was ok.
I had to ask my husband to tell me about the day. He had to tell me that he waited in the hallway not knowing what was going on. Then saw our lifeless baby being resuscitated for 10 minutes. Talk of “cool-capping” to save what would be left of his brain function. He had aspirated his meconium as a sign of stress before being born and had APGAR scores of zero for the first 10 minutes of life…All while I was asleep on an operating table.
And then he breathed.
And he moved. And he cried! And started sucking his pacifier! (or so I’m told by my husband) Luke was 100% fine. We had nurses and doctors coming in the NICU the next 5 days to see the “miracle baby.” The baby that shouldn’t be doing all these things. The baby that should be semi-brain dead or dead or at very least have a severe infection from meconium. But by the amazing power and grace of God that’s what he was, and still is, a MIRACLE.
“You intended to harm me. But God intended it for good.”
I wrestled with guilt and anxiety about that birth for a year. I felt like I should’ve/could’ve done something more to have avoided that whole mess. But the emotional trauma that was intended by the enemy to harm me, weaken me, break me…God has since used for good.
When situations feel too heavy in my life, or when my friends are facing really hard things, I think of that miracle and it strengthens my faith. I can tell them that God sees them, hears them, and is still working for our good even when we see no good at all.
I think of the two miscarriages after Luke was born. Where the only thing that made me feel strong was reading my bible. I read each day like it was my life line– the only thing helping me put one foot in front of the other. There were days when the harm felt more than the good…but now I can see it. I can see that God used even that hard time to draw me deeper in faith to him. And as weird as it sounds, I am so grateful. I don’t want to live a perfect, easy, comfortable life if it means that I never get to experience the presence of my God. I felt his help and love in the depths of depression. He was there in a way that no person could be. He used the bad for good.
I always used to want to slap James for writing James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my (sisters) whenever you face trials of many kinds…”
…until I started experiencing the second part of the scripture…
“…because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
It is a lifelong journey to know God, but I am confident that I am so much more rooted in God now– not because he’s given me everything I’ve ever prayed for– but because He showed up with His peace and love and strength when I had none. He has used my absolute low points in life to reveal His power and love and build a relationship of trust with me. He didn’t want me to go through that pain, but He wanted me! And as strange as it sounds, I’m so thankful He has let me endure painful times in life because he knew that I would come out the other side with stronger faith and more courage to persevere.
He can use anything, even painful times, to grow our hearts for him and bring us into a closer relationship. “You intended to harm me. But God intended it for good.”
And so, I think of my people who are hurting right now. Friends who are battling in marriage, or in their motherhood, or other strained relationships. Friends who are grieving for the children they lost, or trying to be strong as they wait for a child to come. I think of friends who are caught in addiction or lost in the loneliness of this broken world. And that’s the truth. We will all experience the brokenness of this world at some point because we are caught in the battle until Christ comes back for us.
So we have to persevere, cling to Jesus through the Holy Spirit through this life, and not let the hard stay as harm– but let God use the hard for good.