Friday, January 4, 2008

Words of promise

Isaiah 61:1-3 says “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners…to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He many be glorified.”

These are the words of Isaiah, speaking perhaps in part about himself, but ultimately looking forward to complete fulfillment in Jesus. I have been acquainted with this beautiful passage for many years, but reading it this morning in the wake of Poppy’s life, the verses became alive and resonant as never before. As I absorbed the message of the words, reading them over and over again, I felt my spirit echoing “Yes, Jesus! You have truly done this for me!”

I must admit that in the weeks before Poppy was born, my greatest fears about the future began to gradually shift. Instead of fearing the inevitable death of my baby, I began to fear what her death might do to my spirit. I remember my grandmother telling me of a woman she had met years ago who had lost her third child to SIDS. She had been blessed with two additional children after the loss of that baby, yet years later, absorbed in bitterness and pain, she continued to dwell on the unfair aspect of the loss. She resented God, allowing the death of her child to color her perspective and steal the possibility of joy, even in the two children she had been given since.

And this certainly isn’t my only exposure to what bitterness can do to a person’s heart when given free reign. I, like most of you, have seen first hand what a person consumed with resentment and anger is like. Closed. Unhappy. Lonely. It’s easy to become offended by these kinds of people since the most likely thing out of their mouth isn’t going to be a word of encouragement, but the more I think about it, instead of focusing on my personal injury, I am filled with pity and compassion for people like this. To me, the life of bitterness is the life of the living dead. Whether consciously or not, someone living in bitterness has at some level refused to hand the pain over to Jesus, feeling some kind of gratification or control in the simple act of refusing to let go.

I was thinking about it this morning, and I decided there are probably few things that excite Satan as much as a discouraged and bitter Christian. The reason why is simple. The person who is entrenched in bitterness cannot be filled with God’s hope and joy. She is adorned with ashes instead of the garland that Jesus so desperately wants to put around her neck, and instead of a mantle of praise, she lives in the constant weariness of defeat. Before Poppy was born, I lived in fear of this scenario becoming my reality.

Since that time, praise Jesus, I have discovered that the path of bitterness is one that I can choose not to take. It has not already been mapped out for me. In fact, it is opposite of the beauty that Jesus has planned for my life according to these verses. He wants to make me an established oak, with roots that are deeper as a result of the storm I’ve endured. And this isn’t just His plan for me. It is what He wants for EVERYONE. It’s yours for the taking.

21 comments:

Laurin said...

What a very hopeful post, Angie! That passage in Isaiah truly excites me...and you are the furthest thing from a picture of bitterness. You are a picture of a flourishing oak, truly! And that excites me too!

krista said...

Thank you for sharing this.
What a beautiful truth.
You are blessing so many.
krista

Dee Dee said...

Amen. Thank you for living that.

pipsylou said...

Beauty will most certainly rise up from the ashes, Angie. It already is!

Jill said...

Hi Angie,

I am 16 weeks pregnant and was told a week ago today that our unborn child has full blown Trisomy 18. I had posted a thread on babycenter.com after learning our diagnosis and have received so many supportive, kind messages. Someone responded today and referenced a blog for Tristan, which in turn brought me to yours. It is good to hear from people who have lived this, that life goes on. Because right now I feel so hopeless and helpless. I don't know what to do and am so scared. I don't understand why this has happened and am having trouble as I try not to be mad at God. I'm sure you are all too familiar with the emotions and questions that I am experiencing right now. I am glad that I found your blog and hope it is ok that I continue to read and respond. If you have any advice on how to cope, I would be happy to listen. My email is jill@themichaelcorp.com. God bless you and your family.

happy gram said...

oh, that my daughter could know this. i will pray it.

Anonymous said...

AMEN sister - AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!!!

Brandi said...

Angie,
Two things that you have posted recently really struck a chord with me. I have never experienced anything as profound as your loss of Poppy, but I found your words hitting home, as I have a tendency to try to hold on to my pain, as you put it, out of the “fear that if the sorrow leaves, the memory will leave as well. That if healing is allowed to take place, it will in some way diminish the value of the loss.”
I now see that you are correct, that “these are lies that Satan plants into each of our hearts . . . .” and that “someone living in bitterness has at some level refused to hand the pain over to Jesus, feeling some kind of gratification or control in the simple act of refusing to let go.” I pray that I will use the wisdom of these words in the future to focus on the Lord and not on the loss. Thank you for this revelation.

Laurie said...

Hi Angie,

What a blessing it is to identify with this post. I have seen so many peoples spirits shredded by bitterness. It is poison to the soul.
And you're right, it is a choice to let it go, and trust the Lord, yet it brings such peace. Jesus can be trusted all of the time to keep His promise and you, my friend, are a living example of the flourishing oak! I love you.
A note to Jill that I will be praying for her precious unborn child, and for all the things she is feeling right now.
You are such a blessing to so many Angie, as you are to me.

Love, Laurie in Ca.

Jen in Al said...

Thank you so much, Angie! For continuing to share! What a testimony to the grace of God to read these words in the midst of your circumstances. What a beautiful thing to behold is your faith in Jesus. Continuing to pray for you all. Many blessings, jen in Al

Kim (marygracesummons.blogspot.com) said...

Dear Angie,
What a beautiful passage and I have never read or heard it like I read or heard it just now. It does have a whole new meaning. I have the same fears and just mentioned them to a friend today.....how blessed I feel coming to your sight and reading your words tonight. I continue to pray for you and praise Jesus that he is holding you up right now. Satan I am sure, is cringing at how you are helping others through your strength! Stronger is he that is in me, than he that is in the world. Praise Jesus.
thank you!
Kim

Kenzie Stanfield said...

Angie-

Thank you so much for the promises that you share with all of us. These verses are beautiful and you're right... seem to take on a whole new meaning as we are arriving closer to the time we will meet Maddox. Thank you for sharing your encouragement and strength~ the Lord continues to use you in mighty ways! (I think Maddox agrees as he keeps kicking me while I write : ) )

Love lots and praying,
Kenzie

Mary Lou said...

Angie, you are a very wise young woman. God has done and is doing a wonderful thing in your life. I pray that others that have a root of bitterness for whatever reason will read what you wrote and that God will use it mightily in thier lives to free them. May he continue to bless you and use you as He is doing. May He be the lifter of your head today and every day.

Shane and Devin said...

What a blessing to read this this morning, Angie....and sooooo very true. The root of bitterness can go so deep if it gets it's foot in the door. You are a wonderful example of slamming the door in it's face!

Devin in Illinois

Jessica said...

Your words are so good to read. As I look back 2007, I can truly say that it was a year of healing for me. And reading your journey, helps in my healing process even more.

Kathy said...

Angie, I played a song on my blog in memory of Poppy, and all the other babies who passed away in 2007. Poppy went to heaven on my birthday. I lost my oldest daughter in 1996, so I know the pain of losing a child. I have visited you frequently, and have been praying for you I will continue to do so...Love, Kathy

Here is the link to my blog post http://www.xanga.com/kamps624/635444236/for-all-the-little-ones-we-lost-in-2007.html

Laurie said...

Hi Angie,

I am thinking about you tonight and hoping the past few days have been gentle for you and Nathan and Marianna. I pray for you all the time as your journey continues that the Lord holds you in His arms, blessing you and loving you BIG. You are such an inspiration to so many through what the Lord teaches you and you share it here. Thank you so much for blessing me and so many others. I love you so much.

Laurie

So Blessed said...

How precious that you are choosing to be faithful to God's Word...and you will be blessed for it.

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thess. 5:18

Praying for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Angie,

What a blessing you are.

If ever you doubt that God can still use you, Nathan, Marianna and Poppy Joy through Poppy's blog, please read "The Virtual Blessing" entry at http://shanemerrittfamily.blogspot.com/

sarahdodson said...

I really enjoyed reading what the Lord has done in your life. You are such an encouragement to others, and I want to say Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Our Lord IS indeed faithful!

Candi said...

Sometimes I feel that you are taking words right out of my heart. When I read your blog I often find the words that go along with my emotions that I have not been able to find on my own. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with everyone. Poppy has a wonderful mother!