God Can Use Your Tears
Updated: Jun 24
Experiencing loss is inevitable in this fallen world and we all know that grief is sure to follow. It didn't take long doing church ministry to understand that there are those unexpected and tragic losses that can rock our world and shake our faith to it's core, leaving us heartbroken and disillusioned. I have known many who have experienced much more difficult losses than me and I have witnessed 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 lived out in some of their lives as they sought to minister to and comfort others who were experiencing a similar loss, with the comfort God had given them during their own darkest hours. I have seen God use the tears of others for His Glory - and He has used mine as well!
Marty and I had our first two children before we surrendered to God's call to full time ministry and moved our family in order to attend Seminary. We lost our third child by miscarriage the following year, which ushered us into a heartbreaking season of loss. We were able to bury that first tiny baby next to Marty's grandmother and we mourned the loss of this child, moving forward the best we could with an outpouring of love from our church family. The stories shared with me from those who had been in this valley before were especially comforting and it wasn't long before God began giving us opportunities to minister to others experiencing the same heartbreak. I knew that I would have never understood this kind of loss if I had never been there myself and I was able to get a glimpse of how God was using that loss for good.
I was told that having a miscarriage was perfectly "normal" and that there was no reason to believe I couldn't have another child, so we tried again. When we lost the second baby, I knew something wasn't right, because it all happened the same way at the same point in the pregnancy. All the normal tests were run and my doctor couldn't find anything wrong. I tried another doctor and he also couldn't find anything that would give any indication that a medical issue was involved. Each doctor told us that having two miscarriages in a row happens and it didn't mean I couldn't have a healthy pregnancy next time.
When I became pregnant again, we remained hopeful. My heart sank as the same things began to happen around the same time in the pregnancy. I knew we were going to lose another baby and I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it from happening. I felt totally helpless and alone. The emotional storm raging in my mind and heart threatened to consume me completely, but my family still needed me. I had two other children to take care of, so I focused on them and kept moving forward.
Inevitably the time came when I found myself at home alone. The mask came off and I crashed. I remember that day vividly. I was curled up in a ball on my bed, sobbing uncontrollably. There were no words left. I had no idea what to pray. There was only grief. So much grief. I had never experienced that magnitude of emotional pain, confusion and anguish at the same time and all I could do was cry. It all seemed like some kind of cruel joke. Why would God allow me to conceive and carry a child for 3 months, only to take it away - not once, but three times? Everyone kept telling me there was nothing wrong, yet here I was. Again.
I knew that telling God I was at peace with His plan to take another child from me would be a lie. I wasn't ok with what was happening at all. I was hurting, confused and quite frankly, angry. How could this help anyone? I saw no way this experience, this suffering, could be used for good, in my life or anyone else's. As I laid there crying, my body growing weak, my mind went to the woman with the issue of bleeding that I had recently studied in Mark 5. No one could help her either and she had suffered so much longer than me... for 12 long years. I thought about her incredible faith in the midst of her horrible circumstances. She hadn't just lost children, she had lost everything. She had lost hope for any kind of future at all. Reduced to living as an outcast. Unclean. All alone.
Then Jesus entered the picture.
Not only did she know Jesus had the power to heal her, she believed that if she could just get close enough to touch the hem of his garment, she would be healed. She had faith. Such incredible faith. She risked everything to push her way into the crowd, to get close enough to touch Him. Her fingertip just brushed the fabric of what He was wearing and she felt the bleeding stop. Jesus turned. He had felt the power leave Him. When she stepped forward, His eyes met the eyes of this woman who had nothing to live for but Him, then He spoke these life giving words to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:34)
As I thought about her story, I knew He could heal me too. I knew I couldn't touch Him physically, but I could still reach for Him. I knew that in that moment of such immense pain and grief, that I needed His healing, His peace and freedom from this earthly suffering that had infiltrated every crevice of my being. He had set me free from the bondage of my past and I knew He could free me from this pain too. I pictured the train of His robe filling the temple in Isaiah 6:1 and I didn't just touch His garment, I jumped in. All in. I wrapping myself up in the hem of His robe - and I found healing, peace and freedom from my suffering there.
That season of loss was behind me when I heard about a mission trip to Brazil 4 years later. There was a team being formed from a few local churches that included a doctor and dentist to do medical work. The trip entailed sleeping in hammocks on a boat for a week and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ in small villages up the tributaries of the Amazon River. I immediately wanted to go. I remember being incredibly excited and thinking that it would be a great mission trip for us to do as a family. Thankfully Marty agreed!
It was early in the morning when we arrived at the first village and everyone was excited about our first day of ministry. I was helping set up some activities to do with the village children when Marty came to me and said, "You're not going to believe this!" He had my full attention when he went on to tell me that the lead translator had come to him and asked if he knew a female in our group that would be willing to talk with a woman the doctor was treating. He told him that she was having a miscarriage and was very upset because it appeared to be her third. We both looked at each other in disbelief and without hesitation I made my way up the hill to meet a woman that I knew God had put me there to minister to.
As I shared with her, through the translator, who I was and that I understood her pain because I had once been where she is, the look in her eyes began to change from despair to hope. We cried together as I shared my story of the hope I found in Jesus Christ and His promises during that painful season of loss in my life. At the end of our conversation, she prayed with me and asked Jesus to save her. I cannot begin to put into words how I felt as I watched her board a small boat to make the journey to a hospital many miles away. She smiled and waved to me as they pulled away. I had a new sister in Christ and even though we would no longer be there when she returned, I knew that I would see her again one day.
I also knew that this was no chance encounter. There was no doubt in my mind that God had orchestrated every detail to bring me to this moment, in His perfect timing. Only God could have brought me to Brazil, to that tiny village off a tributary of the Amazon River, in order to use the most painful season of loss in my life to comfort a woman who didn't even speak the same language as me, with the comfort He had given me in the midst of my own loss, grief and pain. And in His incredible sovereignty knit our hearts together and gave me the opportunity to lead her to faith in Jesus Christ. Only God! He settled any question I could ever have about His sovereignty over my life that day.
We cannot - WE MUST NOT - discount the power of our testimonies of God’s incredible grace, love and healing in our lives. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God desires to use them to share the love of Jesus Christ with the people He brings into our lives.
During times of loss, when the enemy desires to use our pain against us -
Let’s allow God to restore our hope, revive our joy and build a stronger testimony to His faithfulness and power in our lives.
Let's have faith to reach for Him, knowing that He desires to provide healing, peace and freedom from our suffering.
Let's share the hope we've found in Him with those around us, comforting others with the comfort He has given us.
Let's show the world what it looks like to have faith, unhindered.
Jesus, thank you for your desire and power to give me healing, peace and freedom from the pain of life in this fallen world. Help me to continue reaching for you as I share my testimony of your faithfulness to those around me. Use me to show others who you are through what you have done for me. In Jesus name, Amen