A Prayer of Surrender

"Not my will, but thine, be done." Luke 22:42
What a simple prayer! And yet sometimes it is the most difficult of all prayers to pray.
In the first year of Lydia's birth, I found it very difficult to pray this prayer. I had no problem telling the doctors 'Do what you need to do" and yet to say the same thing to God was much more difficult. When Lydia was 6 months old, we went to Starship hospital for her open heart surgery. We were home again within two weeks. After a week of being home, we found ourselves back up at Starship being told that she had a complication from her heart surgery and it would take a long time to heal. To accept the fact that we were back there so soon and for a long time was a bitter pill for me to swallow. All I wanted was to be home and together as a family again. To pray "Not my will, but thine, be done" was not easy. Why? Because I know that God's will often includes trials. Naturally we want to run from anything difficult or painful. But God's best for us often means trials. That is how we learn and grow. Jesus prayed this prayer just before he was put on the cross. God's will for Him was dying a horrible death on the cross so that we can be saved. And God's will for me is not a bed of roses either.
The last few weeks, I have had a real struggle to pray this prayer again!
After all the challenges that has come with Lydia, and now two miscarriages, I find it hard to pray this prayer. Naturally, I want to make sure I will never go through these trials again. I want to know that it will never happen again. But I don't know what God's will is. Maybe it will mean not having any more children. Or maybe it will mean having another one. Or maybe it will mean more miscarriages. I have no idea. But although naturally I want to run from any future trial, I do want God's best for me. I do want to find out God's will and accept it. I know that God's way is perfect. I do want God's will even though everything in me fights it sometimes.
Since it is nearly Christmas I have been thinking about Mary.
"And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." Luke 1:38
She had just found out from an angel that she would lose her reputation! She would be the mother of Jesus. Being a virgin, she knew it was a miracle, but to others it would look quite different.
We do not have to be Mary, but we each have our own trials to bear. If an angel came to you and said, "God has this trial for you to bear," would your response be the same as Mary's? 
Sometimes we need to pray Mary's prayer and then pray that God would help us to truly mean it!


Hope for the Future

We are nearly at the end of week three of recovery from our second miscarriage. Now that I am physically feeling better, I have had lots of fear to deal with. Fear of the future, fear of another miscarriage etc. Although we know we shouldn't fear the future, it is very difficult not to do sometimes. Tonight I was reading through my prayer journal and found these words that I wrote down over a year ago. They were very encouraging to me.

Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear. Rather look at them with full hope that, as they arise, God, whose You are, will deliver you out of them. He has kept you hitherto; do you but hold fast to His dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand, He will bear you in His arms.
Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow. The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.  
    ~Francis de Sales


God's Choice For Me

This morning I had to go to hospital for a few hours to get an injection because of my blood group and because of my miscarriage. As I drove out the driveway I checked the mail and found an envelope from a friend who had a few miscarriages in a row. When I was in the waiting room in the hospital I opened it up. She had sent me a card as well as two poems. I opened up the first poem and got a bit of a surprise.
 Quite a few years ago, my sister was going through difficult health problems. One day I read a poem which reminded me of her situation. I got a nice piece of writing paper, printed out the poem and gave it to her.
I didn't know she photocopied that poem and gave it to the friend who had the miscarriages. 
Not knowing that the poem had originally come from me, this friend sent it to me. 
I had sent it to my sister in her need, and now the same poem on that same writing paper had come to me from someone else in my need! Talk about coming full circle!
It was so strange and special to read that same poem in my situation. I hadn't read it in years.
I would like to share it with you.

God's Choice For Me
I would have chosen a sunlit path,
All strewn with roses fair,
With never a cloud to darken my way--
Nor a shade of anxious care.
But He chose for me a better way--
Not sunshine or roses sweet
But clouds o'er head and thorns below
That cut and hurt my feet.
I have deep joys of another kind;
My Rose of Sharon is He:
And as for sunshine---His lovely face
Is perfect sunshine to me.

I would have chosen my life to be
Active, tireless and strong;
A constant, ceaseless working for Him,
Amid the needy throng.
But He chose for me a better lot--
A life of frequent pain,
Of strength withheld when 'twas needed most,
Amid loss instead of gain.
He gave me work of another kind,
Far, far above my thought,
The work of interceding with Him
For the souls that he had bought.

'Tis far, far better to let Him choose
The way that we should take,
If only we thus leave our life with Him,
He will guide without mistake.
We, in our blindness would never choose
A pathway dark and rough,
And so we should never find in Him
"The God who is enough"'

In disappointment, trouble, and pain,
We turn to the Changeless One,
And prove how faithful, loving and wise
Is God's beloved Son.
~Catherine S. Miller~


We Don't Know But God Does

(I share this experience partly for my own remembrance, but also because God's goodness is worth sharing! And I can't share God's goodness to me without sharing the experience.)
This week has been a tough one. At 11 weeks pregnant I started to have some warning signs of miscarriage. It started on Saturday night, but it wasn't till Monday afternoon at the ultrasound that we found out for sure that our baby had passed away. Up until the scan I really didn't know if it was miscarriage or not. Even my midwife thoughts the signs weren't convincing enough to definitely be miscarriage. The morning of the scan I tried to decide whether I should tell my mum about it. It was possible everything was fine and nothing to worry about it. I really didn't know. One minute I was worried, the next minute I wasn't. But I texted her anyway and told her the concerns and asked her to pray for us. She told me that if it was needed she was free to come and stay to help with the children this week. That afternoon we found out our baby had passed away 21/2 weeks ago already. I thought about mum's offer but didn't know what to say. I would love to have her, but I didn't know if I felt up to visitors staying in my house. So I didn't say anything. That night my Dad rang and said that Mum was coming down the next day and was going to stay at a little holiday place in our town. Wow! I could have both! My mum and my own space!
While my mum was on her way down the next day, the pain started. Up until then, I had no pain. (Also, my last miscarriage had been pain free.) The pain wasn't bad at first, just uncomfortable. The next morning I was feeling pretty good and I enjoyed some time with my mum and little sister. Mum planned to look after the children all afternoon at the holiday house so I could have a sleep and a quiet afternoon. But a sleep was not possible! After lunch the intense pains started. For about 3 hours I had the worst pain I've ever experienced. Since I've had c-sections I had no clue what labour pains are like and thought I never would. Never say never!! That afternoon I had a good taste. I'm sure real labor must be much worse, but on the other hand it felt so unbearable I don't know how it could be worse!! I was so glad everyone was out of the house. And I was especially glad my mum was there to look after the children. I could barely manage myself, how in the world would I have looked after children? I thought the worst must be over, but the next morning I woke up at 3 to the intense pains again. 
I had no clue that it would be like this. Also, my Mum had no idea that miscarriage could be like this. It really amazes me how it all worked out for her to come down, when neither of us knew how much I needed her!
Thismorning I woke up early to light pain which prevented me sleeping. So I got up and had some quiet time. I was reading a poem in a devotion book and the last part really hit me.
And One said mildly: "Why, indeed,
Take over-anxious thought for that
The morrow bringeth! See you not 
The Father knoweth what you need?"
I love the verse in Matthew 6:32"...for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have  need of all these things." It has helped me before. But this week has been another reminder of how true it is.
God doesn't promise that we will have no needs. But He promises that He knows our needs. Even when we don't know them ourselves. And He promises that if we put Him first, He will take care of our needs.
It's also a reminder of how much wisdom we lack. We often don't know the best thing to do or what we will need. That's why we need to pray often for wisdom for God truly does know what we need. We can't afford to make decisions without His wisdom.


Some Thoughts on Prayer

I was praying about some difficulties the other day. And these were some thoughts I wrote down afterwards.

1. We don't need to be afraid to be honest with God. 
We're not praying to impress Him--we're praying because we need His help. We can tell Him everything--the good, the bad and the ugly. He knows it all anyway, so why try to hide it?

2. God knows our trials are difficult.
I like to compare my trials to much bigger ones--that way mine seem smaller. But all trials--big or small--are difficult and we need God's help to face them. Our trials are difficult and God does not expect us to just grin and bear them. We need to cast our burdens upon the LORD and He will sustain us. (Psalm 55:22) No matter how much we have to be thankful for--and no matter how thankful we are--we don't need to feel guilty for pouring out our woes to God. That is the way to find help.

3. Thank God, too!
Be honest and real. Tell God all your troubles. But remember to thank Him for all your many blessings. Don't lose sight of all He's done for you so far.
Philippians 4:6 tells us to pray about everything with thanksgiving. When we thank God for what He has already done, it helps us to have faith that He will help us with our present trials.

4. Have faith.
Sometimes we see no light at the end of the tunnel--and praying doesn't necessarily bring instant results. That's where faith comes in. I love how some of the psalms start off so dismal and depressing. The writer pours out all their troubles to the LORD. But they end on a positive note. They have faith that God has heard and will help. Let's remember we pray to a living God who hears and answers prayer. He might not answer the way we want or expect, but He will answer in the way that is best.


Clean or Dirty?

Yesterday morning our washing machine stopped working. When my husband came home from work he pulled it out so he could have a look. He didn't find out what was wrong with it, but we did find a disgusting mess behind it. Mouse droppings, old cloths, spiderwebs, and a lot of dirt. Johan left the washing machine pulled out so I could clean it.
As I cleaned up the awful mess today, I realized that our lives are like that washing machine space. When everything is going well and as it should be, we appear to be doing well too. Just as when my washing machine was in its place, everything appeared clean.
 But then something is moved or lost (either temporarily or permanently) as my washing machine was.Things we depend on, need or want.
 Maybe it's our health, our sleep, our time, our energy, money, broken appliances that we depend on, a car that doesn't work, a sick child, our home, normal life, a busy husband etc. 
Then we see the dirt--the ugly resentment, bitterness, greed, covetousness, unkindness, envy, anger, selfishness, impatience, fear, worry, unbelief and so on. 
It can be discouraging to realize just how 'dirty' we are! We can feel like we are going backwards instead of forwards.
But that space behind my washing machine is not dirty anymore. I gave it a good clean and it is looking nice again. If the washing machine had not broken, it wouldn't have gotten cleaned. (Maybe I should clean behind things like that more often, but I don't!!)
And I don't need to despair about my own 'dirtiness' either. I can be thankful that I have become aware of it, and I can confess it to God. He has promised to forgive and cleanse me.
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Psalms 51:2 and 10

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9