By Jodi Weaver

When I said, “my foot is slipping,” Your love, O LORD, supported me. When anxiety
was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (Psalm 94:18-19)

Something happened to me the other day that has really made me stop and examine myself and how I live my life. I met a lady named Jennifer at my friend Peggy’s house one Saturday afternoon. We were together for a couple of hours, and I will admit that I was no different with her than I am with any other person I meet. My sister, Gwen, was there and we spoke of her cancer and of God’s healing of my Mom’s cancer 19 years ago. We spoke of the miracle gift of my daughter, JoAnna, and I touched briefly on the fact that she has five brothers/sisters in heaven. We spoke of my desperate prayer to become a stay at home mom. I felt that I had met a “new friend”, but again I was simply myself.

A couple of days later, I had a message from her on my voice mail that rocked my world and started me to really looking at myself. She said that after I had left Peggy’s house that day, she asked her more about me. Peggy told her part of my story about the losses and about how God had answered my prayers through JoAnna. But the words that really caught me off guard were “You are so full of joy and peace, no one would ever know that tragedy has ever touched your life.”

WOW! Talk about mixed emotions! I wasn’t sure whether that was truly a complement or not. I couldn’t help but ask myself if I was somehow being untrue to the memory of my precious babies that are in heaven by being “joyful”. Should I go around in a manner that everyone would know that tragedy had touched my life, so that they would ask me about it and therefore I could share my experiences with more people? Should I be wear a “sad countenance”? How was I to know what was the right way? Then I asked myself, “would my precious babies really expect me to go around all gloomy?” and “What does the Lord say about this?” So I looked at grieving in the Bible. There are many different places that God tells His people to “put on sackcloth and wail” or to “mourn”. It even tells that “Jesus wept”, but He never tells them that they are to stay in that state. In fact in Psalm 30 it says, “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” and “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to You and not be silent.” So by that I know that God doesn’t want me to go around in constant sackcloth and with a sad countenance, so the only question left was would my babies want me to? The more I thought about it the more convinced I was that they would want me to let God shine through with joy more than they would want my “gloominess” to bring attention to them.

So that took care of the “joy”, but what about the “peace”? In the past I have had people ask me how I can be so peaceful in the midst of tragedy. Again, I looked to God’s word for answers. In Galatians 5, it speaks of the fruits of the spirit and peace is one of them. In Colossians 3, it says “Let the peace of Jesus Christ rule in your hears, since as members of one body you were called to peace, and to be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” This tells me that God expects, in fact, calls us to be filled with peace. And that we are to sing His praises to the world and be thankful. I have tried over the years to look not at the tragedy itself, as I am in the midst of it, but at what God may be trying to accomplish through this tragedy in my life. This scripture tells me that the reason I am able to do this is because God calls me to do it. And when He calls us to do something, He will always provide the strength and means for you to do it. This is reinforced in Romans 15; it says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”. So if I trust in Him, whom I do wholeheartedly, then the Holy Spirit will fill me with joy and peace.

So what does all this mean? It means that even though we have all gone through a terrible, heart-rending grief, we are not to allow it to cause us to become a person of constant “gloominess” and to forever wear “sackcloth”. Yes there is a time to do both of these and it is expected and also encouraged by God. But you must also remember that God is the creator of joy and peace and He alone can give these back to you. I feel that I am more of a witness for God and His wonderful gift of salvation by showing the world how He can bring joy and peace, even with a lot of tragedy in my life, than I would be if I went around constantly “grief-stricken”. So when I look back on the message that I received from this new friend in my life, I now can say that she paid me the ultimate compliment. Because she affirmed in me the fact that I allow God to shine through me in such a way that people see Him first and foremost in my life. And because of this, I can use my precious babies to show them what God can and will do if you will only let him! So, may the Peace of God fill you completely and help to bring back your joy!