“This Bible study is making me want to get a new tattoo!” my friend said to me.
I excitedly said, “Me too!”
We were studying Esther. The author of the study, Beth Moore, had spent one lesson focusing on facing fears, exercising courage, and knowing that God is with you no matter what happens in life. She said think about your worst fears. Fill in the blank:
“If _________________, then GOD.”
If I get cancer, then God will carry me through.
If I lose a child, then God will be my hope and heal me enough to keep going.
If my husband leaves me, then God will still be there, holding me.
“If_________________, then GOD.”
My heart leapt at this kind of hope. I know that hardships will come in this life, and I choose to say in advance that I will praise my God no matter what.
“I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1b
Then a few months ago, I read the most heartbreaking, beautiful, captivating, inspiring book: and Still She Laughs: Defiant Joy in the Depths of Suffering by Kate Merrick. In 2013, Kate endured the death of her young daughter, Daisy Love, after Daisy battled cancer for 3 ½ years.
Description by the author:
I wrote this book for anyone who has been on this earth long enough to hit a roadblock, whether it’s the death of a loved one or a nasty breakup. Life gets crazy hard, who doesn’t need more joy? And sometimes, all we can do is be defiantly joyful. Because the book was written while reeling from the radical grief I experienced after Daisy died, it’s uncomfortable at times. Perhaps a bit too honest, but not much is accomplished through pretending we have it all together. It’s my journey from the bonds of bitter to the freedom of laughter, from the day Daisy died and the darkness that followed, to choosing to enjoy the beauty of life. It makes me cry every time I do another round of edits, but there is a fair amount of funny, too. You might laugh, you’ll probably cry, but mostly, you’ll get a whole lotta Jesus. It’s my prayer that you can join me in trading a life of sorrow for one of sweetness.
You guys, I cried my way through that whole book. And I came out loving Jesus even more, for the way He tenderly, fiercely loved Kate through her journey of grief. I remember lying in my bed after reading Kate’s words, looking at the ceiling and sobbing, saying aloud, “Jesus, I love You so much. I would do anything for You. Do whatever it takes in my life to help me know You more! There is nothing I desire more than You. Make me teachable. If it means cancer or death or abandonment or anything! You are all I need, and we will get through it together.”
And then I knew what I wanted my tattoo to say.
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25
I will not fear because I am His. He goes before me. He carries me. I have this hope as an anchor for my soul.
And so last week, at the end of one of the most precious seasons of my life, I got my tattoo. The timing feels perfect, because God has done amazing things this year in my own heart and in the lives of women who attend the Bible study I lead. I never want to forget this season, and the joy I had in serving the Lord this way.
I took with me my sweet Jamie, one of the women from Bible study who has become one of my dearest friends. A couple of months ago, she asked me to baptize her. I cannot think of a greater privilege and a more beautiful gift than the honor she gave me in baptizing her. I had never baptized anyone before! I will never, ever forget it. I thank God for the work He did in her heart this year, and that I got to be a part of it! I don’t even have the right words. But God knows. He knows what that meant to me.
So Jamie went with me to get my tattoo.
I was kind of nervous and she just kept smiling at me through the whole thing, taking pictures and being darling.
Another special day that I will always remember. Hard to forget when I have the tattoo staring me in the face!
What about you, my friends? Do you know Jesus in a way that gives you such a steadfast hope and such courage? Do you know that the two of you can face anything together? If not, ask Him to help you know Him that way. He will never leave you! Believe it.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6