Thursday, April 12, 2007

Be Strong, Like a Tree

Isaiah 61: 1-3 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

These are my verses, and have been my verses for almost 3 years. This is my interpretation of those words, and perhaps it will better illustrate why I have claimed them for myself.

Verse 1- The Spirit of the Lord is upon me- I am a Christian.
The Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek- I was hand-picked to go through this situation
to bind up the brokenhearted- I have gone through this to help others in the future
To proclaim liberty to the captives and opening of the prison to them that are bound- you don’t have to be a slave to the situation

Verse 2- To proclaim the day of vengeance of our God- God will repay those that have harmed me IN HIS TIME!
To comfort all who mourn- I endured this life, situation, etc. to comfort others

Verse 3- to give them beauty for ashes- my ashes (or wounds, or scars, or heartache) will be made beautiful
The oil of joy for mourning- I will one day exchange any mourning (or wounds, scars, heartache) and experience the joy of the Lord with Him in Heaven
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness- I will exchange my heartache for a garment of praise from the Lord Himself
They might be called trees of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified- *I am made stronger*, and I will glorify God by enduring this situation.

I memorized the words of these verses when we first began attending our church. I had been questioning my past, and my pastor suggested I read them to understand some of the reasons why certain things happen. If you know anything about my past, then you’ll also better understand why these verses are meaningful to me. My past is littered with everything from sexual and substance abuse (not by me, but I have been greatly affected by both of these issues) to my parents divorcing to my own miscarriage.

Just last week, I had some friends over and we were discussing some of these very topics. One of my friends made a comment that really took me by surprise. She said she gets annoyed when Christians judge others by saying they (meaning those in a tough situation) need to turn to God. I am guilty of this because I’ve made that very comment before, but I don’t make it in a judgmental way.

I try to encourage others by being an example. I was the first in my family and TJ’s family to ever experience a miscarriage. I was heartbroken to say the least. My dear husband didn’t know what to do or say to me, so instead he hugged me and then moved on. I, on the other hand, couldn’t let go that easily. Well-intended family members on both sides either said nothing or pretended everything was fine. That was like a knife straight to the gut. I was in so much pain (physical and emotional) and everyone around me was as happy as could be. It literally took me months to not cry at every pregnant woman I saw. I felt a gamut of emotions ranging from anger and rage to heartache and sadness to disappointment and unrealized dreams.

About a year later, TJ and I decided to name the baby Travis, and we honor him each Christmas with a poinsettia. It is a fitting tribute because we met at Travis Air Force Base and I miscarried in early December 2003. Let me just say, the first Christmas was the hardest Christmas to get through! My strength through that time was my best friend Chelsea. She was, at the time, the only other person in the world I knew that had gone through the grieving process after experiencing a miscarriage. Since she and I live 8 ½ hours apart, she mailed me 2 books (I’ll Hold You in Heaven by Jack Hayford and Mommy, Please Don’t Cry. . . by Linda DeyMaz) that her family gave to her after her miscarriage. To this day, I don’t know if she realizes how much she helped me through that time.

I am really getting off track, but I just want to add my miscarriage is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I truly am thankful for the experience. I would honestly say, if I had to do it over again, I would. I give God all the glory in that situation, especially because the blessings that followed that miscarriage far outweigh any pain or suffering I felt during that time. I was able to quit working and stay home with Th, the Lord brought us to Harvest, I joined the MOMS Club, and I have an awesome group of friends both in church and the MOMS Club. I don't know if any of those would have happened if I hadn't had a miscarriage, but I am thankful for the friends that TJ and I have made over the years since my miscarriage.

Back to the conversation with my friend. . . Like I said, I try to be an encouragement to others in their time of need, and I think this verse is a perfect fit for any of life’s rotten situations. In a nutshell, it is a reminder that, if you allow Him, God can and will use anything for His glory, and the blessings will follow. The blessings may not be experienced here in this lifetime, but as verse 3 says, I will one day wear a garment of praise and be a tree of righteousness, all the more stronger because of it.

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