I made up my mind a long time ago that I would worship and follow Jesus no matter what happened in my life. Easier said than done when life gets tough! It was very easy to bless the name of the Lord on the day our beloved Bethany Joy was born. I shared some of these thoughts on the day of her Celebration Service in 2011. I look back on March 31, 1995 as the happiest of my life and I often wondered why. I have been blessed with a great many precious days in life, including the day I was married and the births of all our children. Those days rate up there as the most memorable and happiest days of my existence so far. But on the day Beth was born, something special happened. As my eyes beheld my first-born daughter I immediately began praising God. I remember thinking with absolute joy, No matter what – I have a daughter forever! No matter what – I have a daughter forever!
Yes, it was easy to praise the Lord then. But I do sometimes ponder on which declaration of praise from my lips He enjoyed more – my praise in the hospital labor ward on the day Beth was born or my praise at her grave nearly sixteen years later? Without a doubt, this worship was much harder as sorrow and temptation to blame God for all this was lurking in the black corners of my mind. But how could I do that when I had already acknowledged that she was not mine to keep but was ‘on loan’ to us as a complete gift from Him? How could I blame Him for the taking when I had thanked Him for the giving? (Perhaps this is one reason why it is so easy to slip into blame when we experience loss – we have never given thanks for the gift in the first place.)
I am totally in awe of God when I look back at the experience He gave me on the day of Beth’s birth. It somehow cushioned the blow on the day of her death. God gently prepared me to pass her into His hands by giving me insight beyond my limited vision. He helped me to see Beth’s life in light of eternity. The ‘no matter what’ sure did happen and while I don’t like it, I am just so grateful that I do have a daughter forever – safely held in the arms of Christ until I can hold her again. Now this is a fact for which I can surely praise the name of the Lord!
This week’s Psalm (71) makes many bold declarations. It is an honest account of suffering and yet the psalmist clearly makes a clear choice to BE Resolved to praise God in his pain. Take a look at all the ‘I-will’ statements throughout the song – maybe it will prompt you to make some ‘I-will’ statements of your own no matter what your current circumstances. Because of God’s resolve to provide all you need, you too can decide to praise Him through the storms of life – not because you have to, but because you want to and recognize that He is faithful and good. You too can BE Resolved when it comes to deciding the direction your worship will take. BE Resolved to praise Him and bless His name through every kind of disaster that hits and in the midst of any pain. For the great joy set before you, BE Resolved to worship like Job did – like Beth did – NO MATTER WHAT!
Inspiration for the Journey:
This week I visited the town where my father’s family originated. Helston, in the south of Cornwall UK, is a delightful little town that holds the echoes of centuries past. While Beth lay on her deathbed, her great Auntie Val told her this inspirational story of a life that was resolved to give glory to Jesus Christ no matter what…
Jenifer was just 25 years old when she found herself on her deathbed, stricken by breast cancer. With four young children to care for, I can hardly imagine the physical and emotional pain this young woman endured. Her little daughter, Annie, was just seven years old at the time and remembers washing out the rags used to clean out the gaping hole in her mother’s chest. The story goes that Jenifer was a godly woman who loved Jesus with a passion. In her last days, she was praising Him with such enthusiasm and ardor that several men had to hold her down to stop her falling out of bed! We found the row of cottages where we believe this remarkable woman lived and died so well in Christ. Jenifer’s story has imparted great courage to me, her great, great granddaughter. I am sure people said at the time, “What a waste!” Yet today we say with awe, “What an inspiration!” Jenifer’s legacy includes five generations of faith in Jesus. 140 years later, her great, great, great granddaughter also died unjustly and in agony at a young age, praising her Saviour with all her heart. No, not a waste at all! I am sure great-great granny was one of the first to greet Beth when she arrived Home and that they are both praising Him together with joyful abandon! Their resolve was worth it and I don’t think anyone will have to hold them down!
Songs to encourage you:
No Matter What by Kerrie Roberts
Blessed Be Your Name by Matt and Beth Redman
Praise You In The Storm by Casting Crowns
Life is Tough But God is Good by Randy Stonehill
Books to build you up:
If God is Good, Why Do We Hurt? by Randy Alcorn
The Goodness of God by Randy Alcorn
Quote: “Mum, some people in my situation wouldn’t be able to say that God is good. But He really is Mum – He has been so good to me!” Bethany Joy 2010