I have read several of Nancy Guthrie's books. After I read the first one, Holding On to Hope, which was about the loss of Nancy’s infant daughter and infant son, I remember thinking, “That’s exactly how I feel.” She has a way of putting into words all the thoughts, emotions, questions, and struggles I was feeling.
When I found out she was going to be speaking at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas last week, I really wanted to be able to hear her, but I almost didn’t go. I’m painfully uncomfortable in new situations and big crowds. I’d much rather be behind the scenes. But I knew I wanted to hear her, no matter how uncomfortable I might be at first. So I signed up and Brandon and I made the trip to Dallas. When I walked in to the church and saw the big group of ladies standing around talking, eating breakfast, and drinking coffee, I felt like turning around and leaving. There were more women there than there are total people at our typical Sunday morning worship service at home, and I didn’t know any of them. But I went in, looked around the book table, and found a seat and waited.
Nancy’s message wasn’t about the loss of her two infant children, but as she was speaking she told about her children’s lives and deaths. Her main point of the day was: “What is hope?” And as she started speaking, I could immediately relate. She talked about the deep, aching emptiness she had after her daughter died. She had so many questions, and she needed to know what was true about God that she could depend on. One of the main questions she struggled with was simply, “Does God love me?” Again, I could relate. It seems like such a simple thing; it's almost silly to question God’s love. I mean, God’s love seems like a pretty basic thing for a Christian to believe in. But in the depths of suffering even the “simple” truths are called into question. I don’t think I have ever actually voiced it to anyone, but there were so many times I questioned God’s love for me. I remember so many nights lying in the darkness asking God, “Where are you? What am I going to do? I don’t think I’m going to make it. Why?” and wondering if God loved me. Of course I know He does, and yet in the darkest times I questioned it. It helped me to hear that I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. And Nancy reminded me once again of the depths of God’s love. That God’s most significant display of love for me is the cross. “The display of the greatest evil ever done,” and yet “what flows out is the greatest good of all time.” And I was reminded that God will use the worst thing I can imagine for my ultimate good.
Nancy went on to talk more about her daughter and son and holding onto hope in the midst of suffering. More importantly, she said that it isn't actually we who are holding on, but it is Christ who has taken hold of us and is holding on to us. She said that someone once said to her, “You must be a very strong person.” Her reply was, “I’m not strong, but I am tethered to someone who is strong.” And she asked if Christ was enough for us in the pain that He doesn’t take away.
There was a time I would have hesitated at that question. But not this time. I didn’t hesitate. Yes, I said to myself. Yes. Christ is enough for me. He is enough in this terrible gut-wrenching pain that sometimes hurts so much. Even in the midst of many hopes and dreams that won’t come to pass, He is enough. Christ is enough for me.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are enough for me. Thank you for pouring out your punishment on your only Son so that you can pour out your love and grace on me. Thank you that you are able to use this suffering to show me the depths of your love, and that you have given me a love for you that I haven’t known before.