Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Friday, April 7, 2017

What Motherhood Has Taught Me: Joy, Peace and Hope in the Journey

April 13, 2001 I woke in the murky darkness of a new day hours before the sun rose like a beacon of hope. I was alone the moment I saw the first sign that the baby I had carried in my womb for 38 weeks would soon be in my arms.

I had done nearly everything I could do to prepare for this new life, but, in that moment, I sat in stunned uncertainty and curious expectation.

I was still sitting dumbstruck when I heard the front door creak open and Jon, getting home from a long day of work, found me wide-eyed with anticipation. I told him that I was possibly going to have our baby on that very day.

You know what he did?

He decided since I was still early I was probably in false labour and we should get some rest. The instant he flopped in to bed sleep stole him far away from the raging storm of emotions and escalating groans beside him.

So, you know what I did?

I called my mom at two in the morning to see if I really was about to have a baby.

Still not sure if this was the real deal, I shuffled my way upstairs, turned the computer on, waited as the old fashioned dial-up screeched in the silence and lazily connected to the world wide web so Google could confirm that I was absolutely for sure, going to have a baby.

I became a mother on Good Friday.

There are times when it looks like hope has been tucked away in a tomb only to rise again and bring forth joy and peace.

At 7:02 pm after 18 hours of intense laboring, my firstborn sucked in her first breath of air and let out a lusty shriek that took my breath away.

I held new life in my arms, completely unsure of what to do next.

My body had split open and life slipped out and love burst forth from my wildly beating heart. Cries of anguish turned to tears of joy as I recognized God’s abounding grace in that moment.

A mother’s heart holds these cherished memories. From the moment of those first butterfly flutters, first suckle, first smiles, first steps, to the sleepless nights, scraped knees, shattered dreams, relentless sorrow.

We cultivate and nourish deep roots so our children will mount up with wings and soar.

A mother’s heart knows hope.

A mother’s heart can break over a thousand sorrows and by God’s steady stream of grace, pulse with joy and peace.

On August 28, 2014 I watched my children bravely walk out of a hospital, leaving their mother behind fully aware a doctor was going to do his best to help fix my broken heart.

What they didn’t know was how my wildly beating heart shattered to a million pieces as they walked out that door. No doctor could fix this heartache. My husband couldn’t fix this. Calling my mom or dad couldn’t fix this. Google couldn’t help me at all.

For fourteen years I had been a mother.

Once again I sat in uncertainty and again I had to let go and surrender them entirely to the Lord.

I had one thing I could do. One thing.

Trust the God of hope.

I didn’t know what would happen when the surgeon held my stilled heart in his hands, but I trusted the God who holds all things.

The God of hope picks up all the shattered pieces and makes us whole and causes joy and peace to overflow as we trust in Him.

So even as we daily lay ourselves down in the crucible, we are filled with all joy and peace and hope rises to overflowing.

Even in the shattering you shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace.

Consider Paul’s prayer in Romans 15:13:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
First we will ask:

How do we get this surest joy and truest peace?

We are filled with all joy and peace by trusting in the God of Hope. God is the source of joy and peace. The faith that God plants in us reaps joy and peace.

God will fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in Him.

This faith comes from God.

As we take our eyes off of ourselves and trust Jesus Christ, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, we are filled with all joy and peace.

The next thing we should ask is:

What exactly is joy and peace?

Joy is God’s grace recognized.

Faith looks to Jesus Christ and sees all of God’s promises in Him. He is our eternal hope of glory.

When we see all of God’s grace poured out in Christ to us we are filled with an inner delight in God. Our soul will find complete satisfaction in Him – this is joy!

Peace is God’s gift of joining together into wholeness. He takes our sinful brokenness and makes us right with God. Christ came to bring us back to God. He heals the brokenhearted.

Charles Spurgeon said, “Peace is joy resting and joy is peace dancing.”

Finally, we will ask:

What is the result of being filled with joy and peace?

Notice the “so that”. There is an end goal of this joy and peace. “so that you may overflow with hope”

We start with the God of hope. Everything starts with God. God is the author and object of hope. God produces hope.

He works faith in us and in believing in Christ Jesus and his atoning work on the cross we are filled with all joy and peace.

And this leads to us overflowing in hope -- a lively expectation of what is certain.

Hope leads to joy and peace with leads to more hope! An eternal hope.

Christ is our anchor of hope. He holds us steadfast and strong and in Him we abound in hope.

This is not willing ourselves to grasp passing pleasures or pin down illusive peace, but a prayer that the joy and peace that come from faith in God will fill the heart that keeps on trusting the God of hope.

Now we come to the end of the prayer: “by the power of the Holy Spirit.” We are not alone in this journey.

Whatever we face, by God’s grace we can be sure that we can be filled with all joy and peace in believing by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we cling to this promise, let us give thanks for this triad of graces God tenderly cultivates in the soil of our souls – full joy and peace, and abounding with hope.

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