In the Middle of Trials, but Full of Good Cheer

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“In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I [Jesus] have overcome the world.” John 16:33b

 

Just last night, we watched the movie Coat of Many Colors, depicting the childhood of Dolly Parton. Now, I am not a Dolly Parton fan, but I was moved and inspired by this film. The only thing I found disagreeable was the way little Dolly talked back to her parents, sometimes. (Another thing to be cautious about if you watch this with your family is a short scene near the end that includes brief kissing by the parents while in bed, with the wife in her nightgown, and the husband shirtless. I didn’t think it offensive, though.) However, on the whole, the message of the movie seemed to me to be right on.

As their family encounters trials of various sorts, the mother’s faith in Jesus is what helps to sustain them. Though economically poor, they are rich in love and in joy. However, at one point, even her faith is tested when she has a miscarriage, and they are forced to bury the little baby boy that they had been waiting so excitedly for. He would have been their ninth child. The mother’s father, in a moment of grief, exclaims that his daughter has been having baby after baby for years, and maybe her body just can’t take any more of this; what kind of husband would do that to his wife?

However, by the end of the movie, this same man is able to encourage the distraught husband by telling him (my paraphrase), “Life IS hard. But without God, it is impossible.” Even as he is concerned for the health and well-being of his daughter, he is able to acknowledge that trials are A PART of life, and that we shouldn’t run away from them, but must face them. He is able to accept his daughter’s husband, and accept that God’s plan may be for them to have more children, and that that’s okay; he knows that they will be able to get through whatever else comes their way with God’s help. Even though the husband realizes that perhaps his wife will have three or four more children (or more), he also knows that as husband and wife, it is vital for them to have an intimate physical relationship. He decides to accept the fact that “Life is hard,” and plunge ahead, placing his faith, too, in Christ.

I loved this film, and cried at various points throughout, especially because it reflects some of what my husband and I are going through, too. Not that we’ve ever lost a child; I know that others have, and I grieve for them, but I certainly hope that that never happens to us, though it might. At this point, we are experiencing what it is to be somewhat poor economically (by our rich, American standards), but abundant in love and in joy. Our faith in Jesus sustains us.

You know, a little while ago, a woman told me the story of a lady she once knew who had given birth to ten or eleven children. By the time she got that far, she found herself pregnant with twins, and as a result of the stress (and probably poor nutrition, too), she not only lost all her teeth, but also had a nervous breakdown, as well.

I was so sad to hear this. And yet, it didn’t change my mind about leaving conception in God’s hands. Life is hard. The Christian life is hard. As Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation”! But, because Jesus has overcome the world, we have hope. Life without Jesus is impossible, but life with Jesus, though hard, can have times of victory, leading eventually to the ultimate reward of heaven.

Nothing we go through in this life is without recompense in the life to come, if we are truly Jesus’ followers. No hardship, no pain, no suffering will be without it’s corresponding help, comfort, and healing from God’s hand. We must not try to escape life’s hardships, but must accept that they are part of life, and train our eyes on the One Who is capable of helping us bear them.

Another woman once told me that she didn’t think it necessary to have as many children, in a marriage, as God would allow if it creates hardship for the family. According to her, if God “offers us the rescue boat” of birth control (or natural family planning, which is just another form of birth control), we shouldn’t keep struggling in the turbulent waters, but accept the boat, and just get in. I strongly disagree. Birth control wasn’t given to us by God; it does NOT come from God, and is NEVER commanded by Him, and is NEVER suggested by Him as an option for us, in the Bible–so, who does it come from then? Hmmm.

Throughout the whole Bible, God constantly reaffirms that life is from Him. He gives conception, and He withholds conception. We think we’re in control, but this is only how it appears to us from our limited perspective as human beings. God loves children, and He loves babies, and He loves fetuses still in the womb, and He loves the prospect of creating new life not yet conceived. God calls children a blessing and a reward from Him (Psalm 127:3-5). God isn’t afraid of all the what-ifs, like we are. No, for every child He brings into the world, He has a plan, and He is fully capable is bringing it to pass.

One of these days, I plan to publish my research from the Bible about what it has to say about childbearing and family planning. For now, I want to bring you back to the book of Genesis, the book that sets the foundation for the rest of the Bible, and the rest of history.

In Genesis 1:28 we read,

Then God blessed them [Adam and Eve], and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

We sometimes call this the “Dominion Mandate.” And, as Henry M. Morris, Ph.D.  points out in his article published on the Institute for Creation Research website, “God’s Dominion Mandate and the Nations Today,”

God’s primeval dominion mandate (Genesis 1:26-28) has never been withdrawn, and thus is still in effect. It was given originally to Adam and Eve, then confirmed and expanded to Noah (Genesis 9:6-7) after the great Flood.

It is, therefore, appropriate to raise the question as to how well the dominion mandate is being implemented by the present nations. A basic component in the mandate (Genesis 2:24) was the establishment of monogamous life-long marriage as the basis for producing the population needed to accomplish the other components of the mandate.

(Emphasis mine)

I completely agree. (Please read the rest of the article–it’s really good). Though Dr. Morris does not focus on the “be fruitful and multiply” component, but instead expands the “have dominion” part, I think his point regarding the modern validity of God’s first command applies perfectly to this discussion.  All of God’s first command to the first couple, starting with “be fruitful and multiply” and including “subdue the earth and have dominion” is a cohesive unit.  We must not think that we can separate the subduing part from the being fruitful part (having children). Part of having dominion IS having children. Our children, if raised properly, help us change the world (starting with our small sphere of influence), and continue our legacy after we are gone.

Have you ever thought it logical to “just hop in the rescue boat,” when the going gets tough in regards to governing ourselves? Have you ever thought it reasonable to just give up when it comes to politics and social justice, food production and animal control, because we experience drawbacks? Most people would press forward when facing trials in these areas, because they recognize the absolute importance of maintaining order, establishing safety for all citizens, and caring for their basic needs. The need to succeed drives us to overcome insurmountable obstacles. Farmers know that they can’t give up after dry spells and pests threaten to destroy their crops; no, they press forward. Politicians know they can’t give up after new laws they have proposed are rejected; no, they press forward. Police don’t give up chasing criminals after those same criminals shoot at them, and even injure them; no, their duty is to press forward.

So, why do WE give up so easily when it comes to having children?

We need to acknowledge, that yes, life IS hard. But only is it impossible if we don’t have Jesus. And we need to keep pressing onward.

 

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10 thoughts on “In the Middle of Trials, but Full of Good Cheer

  1. <Life without Jesus is impossible, but life with Jesus, though hard, can have times of victory, leading eventually to the ultimate reward of heaven. Amen.

    Jessica, let me share with you my reflection aftering reading this post. I believe that this topic (godly child-bearing issue) has got been engraved in you by Him for some specific (and divine) reasons. There are some visions/holy burdens which He placed in our soul and He wants to release His message through this person. The fire of God is both with this person and the message and we cannot separate the one from the other. It is a hard mission but His hands are so strongly on this person that he/she knows (inwardly) that she must live up to it and testify it no matter what.

    I have been in trials for some days and I was really encouraged by your faith. Thank you so much, Jessica!

    Kinuko

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    • Dear Kinuko,
      I’m glad that my post was a source of encouragement to you. I hope and pray that God helps you through those trials.
      Thank you for your words of inspiration! I was deeply touched by them.
      You know, sometimes I wonder: What if God was to allow some really difficult trials in my life, beyond anything I’ve ever been through before–would I remain true to what I believe? The truth is, I don’t know. But I hope in God, that no matter what happens in my life, He will sustain me with His hand, and will enable me to remain true to His calling. I know of other people who have been through circumstances many times more difficult than I have been through; so, with what confidence can I say the things that I do in my posts? Well, I have experienced SOME trials, and I base my observations, in part, on those. However, I feel the freedom to write about subjects like this one, because not only are my observations based on my own personal experiences, but even more so, on the authority of God’s word. I am confident that no matter how well, or how poorly, I react to difficulties in my own life (and hopefully God will give me the grace to react well), His word stands forever, and THAT is what I want people to see–not me, but God’s word!
      Jessica

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes to all points!!! Awesome post. 🙂

    Love,
    Diana

    P.S. As to the teeth falling out bit, I have heard about women losing teeth with repeat pregnancies, due to poor nutrition (i.e. the body drains the mother of mineral stores if she isn’t eating well enough to sustain the baby’s growth from what she eats). This is why prenatal nutrition is important! And, oddly enough, I have a post ready to go about this! Hopefully this week. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Diana!
      I can’t wait to read what you have researched about nutrition during pregnancy! You know, we act like these problems are “the most horrible thing in the world, and how can we let people go through such sufferings, and not try to relieve them by giving them birth control…” but, there ARE natural and good solutions to those problems, aren’t there, if we look for them. The answer isn’t birth control–it’s using the resources that God has given us, such as good nutrition and support from family and friends, to overcome those challenges.
      Jessica

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Jessica,
    I can’t relate anymore to the pregnancy part of your post, but I can see where this is such good advice for mothers just beginning their child bearing years or even in the middle. Great encouragement to place your faith in God and not in man! I will have to try and find the Dolly Parton story. Sounds like a good one.
    I can however relate to the title, In the Middle of Trials, But Be of Good Cheer. Our trials lately have been financial and dealing with sickness. Just tonight I was having a big old pity party for myself that because we’ve been sick and have no extra money to speak of, I haven’t started Christmas at all. There’s so much to do, and I can’t do more than make a meal w/o being exhausted. Then, I was thinking back to my mom-in-law who was the ultimate Christmas person and comparing myself to her. (always a plan for disaster with me) Just as I was getting teary and worked up over it all, one of the kids called me to the front door. Look, Mom! It’s snowing! Snow in NY is not that uncommon, but this year we haven’t had any, so this was huge! (My kids, even though all 12 and up, love snow, and they had been waiting and waiting.) It was just what I needed to get me out of my gloomy mood. I know the weathermen were probably forecasting this weather, but i feel like God sent it right then just for me. It was a good lesson for me to be thankful for the little blessings and the little joys He sends my way 🙂 -Ruthie

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    • Ruthie,thank you for sharing your story. I imagined how it was like,and was so impressed. How beautiful God’s grace to you is. Your testimony encouraged me so much. May God’s blessing keep you always and your family,too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thankyou, Sanae 🙂 You and your comments encourage me as well on all the different blogs. I can tell that you love the Lord as you share your words of wisdom with all of us. May God bless you and your family too. Much love, Ruthie

        Liked by 1 person

    • What a wonderful story of how God encouraged you even when you were having a hard day! I’ve had days like that, too. But, you’re right, that God wants us “to be thankful for the little blessings and the little joys He sends [our] way.” Thank you for sharing that with us!
      The Dolly Parton movie is actually linked to in my post at the very beginning. It was aired on NBC, but we watched it on our computer. I should warn you, that there is one other part that you might want to be careful of: after the husband and wife get back together (he had been sleeping in the barn), we see them in bed together, with the wife in her nightgown, and the husband shirtless. They kiss a little, but it doesn’t last long, and that’s all you see.
      Thanks again, for your comment, Ruthie!
      Jessica

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sometime I talk about this issue with my christian friends. How come our lives are so uncertain
    even after we had faith in Jesus?
    We seems to be always worry about something like family problem,financial problem,sickness or so.

    But always we reach same conclusion.God allowed this to happen to let us ask Him constantly. If we are always rich,strong,have no problems,we are apt to forget Him,aren’t we? And if we can accept what we regard ‘problems’ with gratitude by His help,we do not have to fear of them any more.

    Also sometimes we have to face problems like misunderstood, criticized our faith by others. It is maybe because we do not belong to this world by faith anymore.The more we hope to be near God,the more we are separated.

    Jessica,thank you for sharing. I always am impressed your frankness. May He supply our needs always to show His glory.

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    • I completely agree, Sanae!
      If our lives were easy all the time, we might start to think that we don’t need God, and we wouldn’t spend time praying or seeking Him. Trials remind us how much we need Him.
      And, as Christians, we are supposed to help each other through those hard times. We are not meant to go through all of them alone. However, it is hard when even Christians sometimes don’t understand why we would choose to go through certain “hardships” (such as having more children), and therefore don’t offer their support. I wish we could all conform to God’s way of thinking as found in the Bible, instead of thinking according to the world’s way (and Satan’s way). Humanism and feminism destruct our relationships as Christians with each other, because these ways of viewing life create barriers between us–between those of us who want to follow God’s pattern for life, and those who have bought in to the world’s lies.
      Thanks for your comment!
      Jessica

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