My friend Katie Ganshert is celebrating the release of her novel Wildflowers from Winter. The premise is that God can take our pain and turn it into beauty — sometimes unexpected.
And I’m thrilled to add that her publisher will send a copy of her debut novel to one of the commenters, so be sure to let me know how God has touched your pain.
Anyway, I can so relate to God taking our winters and causing beautiful wildflowers to grow. Five years ago I experienced our first miscarriage, an event that is tied to our anniversary since the D&C was the day before our anniversary. The first year after the miscarriage the grief pulled my under. The second year I still felt it. By this year, a part of me spent the week wondering what that child would have been like. What he or she would have added to our family. But I also praised God for our three and a half year-old. I can’t imagine our family without her. At all.
Part of me rejoices in the idea that healing has come. I didn’t spend two days under the waves of grief. Praise God! God has answered my prayers to bring good and beauty from our miscarriages, and He has. There have been seasons of struggle, questioning, and pain, but through it all God was there.
Each of us has a different area where we’ve experienced pain…if you haven’t yet, it’s probably coming. The challenge is how we handle it. Not everyone has my strong personality with all its insistence on understanding the whys. Yet we all have places that we need God to make beautiful. Places that, if we let Him, can become our areas of ministry.
If I’d never miscarried, I would still stumble awkwardly when confronted with someone who has miscarried. Instead, I now come alongside these women, hugging and crying with them. Giving them booties to help remember their baby. Sending journals I wish I’d received.
Do you have places of pain you’ve allowed God to transform? Has He turned those into places of ministry for you?
Julia Reffner shared her story of Wildflowers from Winter this way:
Sometimes the news comes in the middle of the night phone call. The doorbell rings and you find an officer there. Other times it’s the deadening silence in the darkness. You hear your own breath whooshing through your ears.
I sat in the dusky quiet of three AM awakened out of a light sleep on the cold hardwood of my brother’s bedroom. The stack of blankets couldn’t keep out the chill trailing up my spine, only my husband’s hands trailing on my hips provided warmth.
Only a few minutes later my mother stood in the doorway of my childhood home and I knew, as I had awakened the last breath had left my father’s body. I went in to his room to say goodbye to the jaundiced face, the sunken hollow cheekbones that no longer resembled the father I knew, the best friend of my childhood.
As my breath burst into the paper bag blowing it in and out I watched out the picture window waiting for the ambulance to come silently to herald this dark April morning. As C.S. Lewis notes in A Grief Observed, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”
Almost every cliché is true about grieving and faith. You do gain a better understanding of God as your Father. If you reach for Him, your faith will grow by leaps and bounds during your time of grief. God does wipe away every tear. But there was one gift I don’t remember being told about: the gift of tears.
No one told me that grief was the training ground for God to build my love muscles towards others. That as I interceded hard tears would fall again and again. Suddenly, my pain was not my own.
Eternity was a heartbeat away and the greatest pain in my life now is knowing I may not share it with people I love. What amazes me is the deep hurt for those I barely know.
It has been ten years this April since my father’s death to liver cancer. I was in my early 20s when he died, a time of searching and becoming. God has brought new joy out of the dark anniversary days, both of my children were born within days of the anniversary of my Dad’s death.
Several months ago I dreamed about my father. He sat at the driver’s seat of the Buick with the plush green seats, his lean six foot five frame bent in an awkward L-shape. I buckled my children into their carseats. “You need to make sure everyone is coming,” Dad called out to me with wrinkled brow and a concerned tone.
Ten years after my father’s death I feel a renewed passion in my life to make sure everyone is coming, to heaven. Like wildflower petals blowing in the wind, our life passes in a whoosh of breath. 1 Corinthians 9:16 says, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.”