Yes, I’m being very serious. You may be asking: “How can one have joy in the midst of even the gut wrenching trials that certainly come our way?” Is it even possible? From personal experience I can say: “Yes, it is indeed possible.” Is there sadness along the journey? You bet. So I imagine you are thinking how in the world can I say there is joy in loss. Is one happy that loss happens? Most certainly not! Then how can one count it ALL joy? Simply put, by learning from it and coming out a stronger person in the end through faith in the One who allows ALL things (good or bad) to happen.
Several years ago my husband, Billy and I were given a very severe and deadly diagnosis for our unborn baby. We were told that our baby had Anencephaly, a neural tube defect similar to Spina Bifida, but instead of affecting the spine, Anencephaly affects the brainstem, leading to very little (if any) development of the brain leaving a baby (even if they survive birth) without the ability to see, feel, or hear, much less any hope of a life beyond birth lasting for more than a few hours to a few days.
That kind of news can bring you to your knees!
The remaining months of my pregnancy were filled with a vast array of emotions and faith stealers, but at the same time faith builders, even it we didn’t see it at the time. My husband and I both had to not only accept what God was asking us to go through, but we also had to accept that He would get us through it. Once we did that He was able to work in us; to mold us into vessels He could use. It wasn’t easy, and truthfully that molding and shaping hurt beyond belief. But the key is that we allowed God to work in our lives according to His plans, not our own.
Our sweet baby daughter lived for nearly 24 hours after she was born. Even in those short hours of her life she blessed us more than words can describe. Some may not understand why we would say it was a blessing, but her life was. Her life said a lot about God to us and that He chose to give her to us, because He knew He could trust us with her life. Her life was a test of our faith, but also a builder of our faith that one day we knew we would share with others. Her life was a gift and in that it was joy filled even with all the tears we shed, but God, who is rich in mercy, gives strength immeasurable; we just have to be willing to accept it.
It was also having perseverance along with faith, that determination to not let the grief of our loss defeat us and separate us from each other or the One who had something beautiful to teach us.
One of my favorite Bible verses throughout that time in our lives was James 1:2-4. It gave me strength to carry on. It states: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (*NKJV).” I didn’t know exactly what God was doing at the time, and many times I begged Him to change the outcome, but I did know that no matter how difficult it was I had to trust in Him. That is what got me through.
Can you trust God to get your through? Getting to the other side of grief will bring with it Joy, if you only allow it to be so. Friend, count it ALL joy, because it will build and strengthen you. Let God do His work in you.
* NKJV = New King James Version