usually when a year ends, i like to reflect on the past 12 months by counting my blessings and marveling at how fast the year has flown by. like the year before, a lot of this past year has been measured by more of kate's firsts: her first complete sentence, her first time on an airplane, her first time using the potty...you know, the important things. in fact, i'm not so sure what we did every year before kids.
however, this year i'm not sure what to make of it all. my first instinct is to say that i am glad 2009 is over. it's been a rough year for us and quite frankly, i'm ready to start anew with 2010. but after examining our year, i realize that there were many, many blessings that happened mostly, if not only, because of the trials and difficulties we faced over the past several months. that's right: trials + difficulties = blessings. is that possible? with God, yes.
at the same time, i can't deny that losing jonathan has changed me in many ways. i'm not sure that anyone out there can say that losing a baby like that doesn't shake you so deeply to the core that you come out exactly the same person you were going in.
it humbles you.
it quiets you.
it reveals your weaknesses, and therefore your desperate need for Christ.
and it gives amazing perspective, once you take your eyes off yourself and look at Him.
eventually, i became to understand that for me, it was very much a faith and character refining process.
"For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver." ~Psalm 66:10
"See, I have refined you....I have tested you in the furnace of affliction." ~ Isaiah 48:10
a refiner's fire melts down the bar of silver or gold, seperates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. this, i believe, exactly describes what our journey with jonathan has done for my faith and my heart. and let me tell you, the process of having the very deepest, darkest corners of my heart scoured and swept clean (and in a very public manner, i might add) is excruciatingly painful. yet, it's very healing and liberating at the same time.
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." ~Ezekiel 36:26
i believe my experience with jonathan has changed me for the better. i'm totally OK with never being the "same" again. and because i can't go back and change the circumstances of 2009, i choose to be thankful for them.
however, i really do want to reach the point where even if i could go back and change the circumstances of the past year, that i wouldn't; to truly accept that the life and loss of our precious baby boy was for a greater gain that i might never be aware of while i live. so far, this has been the greatest challenge my faith has ever faced. in fact, it is probably the greatest perplexity a parent might ever face, in trying to understand that God had a good reason for their baby to die.
i take great comfort in the fact that God, who willingly gave the life of His Son for our gain, knows how i feel in my loss.
He knows how i need to be consoled and encouraged, and He provides.
He allows me to question Him and gently responds with love through His word.
He knows what i need to move forward, in faith and in life, and gives me hope.
i find all of these things (encouragement, answers, hope) in this scripture:
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy." ~1 Peter 1:6-8
so 2009 will go down in our books as the most difficult year we've faced thus far. but i trust that the growth of our faith that has and is to come from it will be worth more than anything we could have ever lost.