Are you offended?

“Where do you want to put this?” Rob says as he removes the magnet from the ultrasound photo of our baby. “I don’t want to keep this on the fridge.”

“Put it in my Bible,” I said.

Rob thought to himself: “Yeah, that’s a good place for it. I want to keep it forever but it’s too painful to look at every day up on the fridge.”

He randomly opens my Bible to Matthew 11:6. A verse that has a lot of history for us, but Rob more than me.

One of the more poignant books I’ve listened to is Gene Edward’s book, The Prisoner in the Third Cell. Rob listened to it first and it affected him in such a deep and profound way he told me I had to listen too.

From the book’s back cover:
The Prisoner in the Third Cell is a book of comfort, told as an unforgettable drama, for those caught up in circumstances they do not understand. As John the Baptist awaits his execution in prison, he struggles to understand a Lord who isn’t the Messiah he expected. If you are a suffering Christian or know of one, this book will bring enormous comfort―and insight into the ways of God.”

In short, the book boils down to Matthew 11. John the Baptist is in prison, he has given his life for God, lived in the wilderness, been subject to ridicule and his sole purpose, his only purpose in life, was to pave the way for Jesus.

While John the Baptist is in prison, John sends his own disciples to Jesus to ask one question, “Are you who we’ve been waiting for, or should we look for someone else?”

Of course Jesus doesn’t answer John with a direct yes or no, he gives him so much more than that.

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”

It’s like Jesus is saying: “What do you think? Have you seen anyone like me? Do you really think someone else is coming? No, dude. I’m the guy. I’m the one that the Old Testament is written about, prophesied about and your man John is in prison for the right message. He’s following the Savior of the world.”

Oh and one more thing, tell John, “And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” – Matthew 11:6

That verse, that’s the one that hits home in the Wurzel house. Let me put it to you in today’s modern terms.

“Hey Wurzels, I know you’ve been following me and trusting me and pursuing me. That’s good, keep doing that. You are blessed if you’re not offended by your infertility. You are blessed and highly favored if you don’t take offense at the trauma I’ve had you endure with your daughter Reagan. Blessed even more if you trust me through your brain surgery, through your breast cancer. And when I give you the good news of your pregnancy, blessed still if you do not rise up in offense at your God in anger when you lose that baby. You will be tested, tried and refined, enduring a double mastectomy and miscarriage within a six month span. Blessed beyond measure are you if you do not take offense at me, because of that.”

Rob randomly opened my Bible to Matthew 11:6, “Blessed are you if you do not take offense at me.”

I broke down in tears as he told me. Earlier this week, I felt God ask me this question, “Would you rather have the things you hope for in this life or incomparable things you can’t even dream of in eternity?”

I know we have rewards and crowns in Heaven. I still want joys in this life. I still want the dreams I’ve dreamed here. But if I had to choose, I’d choose riches and blessings for eternity. It doesn’t mean I’m not hurt or wish things were different. But that question was not one I would have thought of, it was posed to me by God. And I know the answer, and He knows I know the answer.

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” – Mark 8:36

Back to John, Jesus, and The Prisoner in the Third Cell. John gets the message from his disciples…and shortly thereafter he is beheaded. And blessed is he, who is not offended by that.

For Rob, seeing the verse as he tucked the ultrasound into the Bible, it was God telling him “I got you” and giving him a Heavenly hug, an acknowledgement of our pain, and a reminder that we can trust in His big, overall plan for our lives.

It still hurts, we both cried, but we are not offended.

Winds Change

Have you ever felt the winds shift in your direction, in your favor and you think, “oh my gosh, it’s finally my turn, my time!”

The winds changed for our family about a month ago when I got my first positive pregnancy test. Rob and I took a selfie with the tests to memorialize this monumentous occasion. We shared the photo with literally every one of our closest friends, with our family. We were greeted with tears, screaming and excitable cursing in absolute gladness and joy. For all our friends know the struggles we’ve faced, and anyone reading this blog or following on social media knows. Infertility. Adoption. Pediatric stroke. Special needs. Brain surgery. Breast cancer. Finally, redemption.

Sixteen years of marriage had never brought us a positive pregnancy test before. And sure, I’d be right at the cusp of 40 (due date February 16) but it seemed this baby was arriving right on time.

We saw the heartbeat. A life being knit and formed.

And then two weeks later, the winds changed.

The heartbeat was gone. The life that was once forming with great anticipation had come to an abrupt stop.

When did you stop growing, little one? When did you enter Heaven? Did you look back and smile at us? When was the decision made that we’d never meet here on earth? (It was made before I ever entered this earth).

Gasp. Breathe.

I try hard to catch my breath.

Grief.

Unimaginable grief.

The doctor said, “Take your time,” as he left the room.

Our little selfie with our positive pregnancy sticks will be something we keep close to our hearts, and our friends and family will keep that moment of hope tucked inside their chest too. It was a moment we all collectively celebrated and I will hold dear the celebrations that were lavished onto Rob and I, no matter how short the duration ended up being.

Do you know that song from Hamilton, when Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza have to go through the unimaginable?

There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
And push away the unimaginable
The moments when you’re in so deep
It feels easier to just swim down
.

If you see him in the street, walking by her side
Talking by her side, have pity.

They are trying to do the unimaginable.

Many things in our life have been unimaginable and because of that we stopped asking why a long time ago, but this surely does beg that question. The grief is layered. A miscarriage after so much struggle. So much suffering. So many tears. Our tattered threads of hope to achieve a pregnancy disintegrated with every passing year. I thought, this is our chance! It felt like a last chance.

The Lord is not cruel. He is redemptive. I believed in my heart and soul this was one of the ways he was redeeming parts of our story. I believed this was our wind shift. But the winds shifted again too quickly and our sails were not prepared.

Shipwrecked. Again.

I always said I’d rather never be pregnant than go through a miscarriage because I didn’t think I’d have it in me to go through it. Yet here we are, faced with another 2 Corinthians situation.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:8-9