the Stone and the Oak

A journey into bible education with the depth of the of the oak the accountability of the stone

This is Deidre.

Her drink is a medium roast coffee (with a dash of heavy cream on special occasions).

And how fitting that Sips & Scripts involves two people sitting down for a chat with mugs when Deidre’s blog is named “The Second Cup.”

When I asked her about the name “The Second Cup,” she offered this explanation:

“You know in your quiet time with the Lord in the morning when you’re reading your Bible and you finish that first cup of coffee but you’d rather stay with Him than start the day? 

Or when you are catching up with an old friend at breakfast and the conversation is so good you just need to keep asking for warm-ups?”

Deidre’s “second cup” symbolizes the deep stuff. It is the unhurried, intentional presence given to something – or someone – of importance. 

Deidre and I were essentially strangers when we set up this chat, having only connected briefly through the Joyful Life Magazine’s contributor group. But I can tell you that by the end of the chat, if we were in person, we would have stayed to enjoy a second cup.

This is not to suggest that we didn’t have a conversation about tough issues— we did. But Deidre was able to cradle the conversation about suffering with such hope and with such grace that it didn’t feel unbearably heavy.

THE HEAVIEST OF HEAVY YEARS

“The last year and a half has been tough, with one difficult thing after the other, it seems. When our first child was only 6 months old, and we were finally beginning to come out of the newborn stage, we found out that another baby was on the way. I was just starting to adjust to being a new mom and caring for an infant. I remember crying to my husband, ‘I feel like I will never feel rested again.’

I struggled with a lot of emotions after that, and looking back, I wonder whether I was just downright exhausted, or if I had some postpartum or prenatal depression. 

In the midst of this pregnancy, the pandemic and lockdown hit. I’m a Title 1 Teacher who provides math and reading interventions to elementary students. So, like every teacher in our nation, I had to quickly adjust to a completely new way of educating. While it was the best option available to us during the pandemic, it’s not natural for kids that young to be educated on Zoom. Being home with a baby, dealing with pregnancy sickness, and teaching online full-time was certainly a challenge. 

When our baby girl Vivian was born in August, it was a very bright event in the midst of a grey season. My mother-in-law came to stay and help us for a week after Vivian was born, and it was a time that I cherished. But only a month later, she received a diagnosis that we would never expect: a tumor in her brain.

During her time receiving treatment, and later in hospice care, our little family spent many weekends traveling up and down the state of Maine to visit her. My husband and children ended up getting COVID during this time, and we had to cancel a much-anticipated vacation as a result. 

And just last month, my mother-in-law passed away. 

Although it’s been a heavy season, it’s been a catalyst for my contemplation about God’s goodness.”

WHEN GOD’S GOODNESS IS HARD TO FIND

“In thinking about the search for God’s goodness when it isn’t easily recognizable, I am reminded of a feeling I get when reading the Old Testament. There are some passages where our loving God is hard to understand–when he expresses his wrath by destroying entire nations of people or makes seemingly impossible commandments- and I have a hard time coming to grips with this. Not only does it make me uncomfortable and confused, it also creates an internal struggle because I want to be sharing the approachability and compassion of God– especially with people who don’t know Jesus yet. I fear these passages will make them turn away rather from God than press into him.

Don’t get me wrong— I love the Old Testament—but when I am reading it, I tend to gloss over the parts of God as the source of destruction because I don’t like them. 

I also had the habit of manipulating these parts to make them more palatable, trying to convince myself that the author didn’t really mean that or that the given passage doesn’t apply to me or that it isn’t really true.  But I’ve made a commitment to myself not to do that any longer.

This year, I’ve challenged myself to read these passages with eyes wide open and instead of dismissing them; I ask God: ‘How does this part of scripture reflect your goodness, even though I interpret it as something bad? How do these parts exemplify your good character?’

I’ve been trying to look at the last 18 months in the same way. 

Instead of glazing over this last year and assigning it a cliche (what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger), I am challenging myself to dig into my trials and instead ask the question: ‘How do the events of this past year reveal Your glory and goodness, God, even though I don’t like them?’

“I ask God: How does this part of scripture reflect your goodness, even though I interpret it as something bad? How do these parts exemplify your good character?”

MAKING SENSE OF GOD WHO ALLOWS DESTRUCTION

“Last night, I was thinking about the idea of finding God in the heaviness when I opened my Bible to the date in my reading plan and it fell to this verse:

I form the light and create darkness

I bring prosperity and create disaster

I, the Lord, do all of these things

Isaiah 45.7

My former reaction would be to ignore the parts of the verse that describe God as the source of disaster.

But in my effort to lean into the confusion, I started giving it more thought.

Darkness and disaster? Doesn’t that come from the enemy?

So I stopped to ask the question ‘Why? Why do you create darkness and disaster, God?’

As I read on, the next section answered my question:

Your heavens above rain down my righteousness, let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it. I, the Lord, have created it

45.8

He follows the section on disaster with a reason for creating adversity: salvation and righteousness spring up from the disaster site.

With this verse in mind, I began to reflect on the bad things that happened in the last year. Was God using these obstacles to cultivate righteousness in me? 

Everything I went through this last year has been so challenging that it has forced me to release the idea of control. It has forced me to abandon comfort. Very few of my fleshly desires were met. 

And as an end result, I have given over so much of myself to the Lord. I have relied on him, and trusted him, and followed him more.

To reiterate— I am human and would never elect to suffer. How many people prefer to be uncomfortable, or grieving, or exhausted?

God removed stillness from my life and comfort from my flesh, but would I have abandoned them willingly? Not likely.

My discomfort creates a dependency on God that I would not have otherwise known.”

DESTRUCTION CREATES SOIL FOR SALVATION

“And now I can share my experience. My trials have opened up connections with people that may not have otherwise existed. And some of these people have been nonbelievers.

People can be won to the Lord by observing our peace in these trials.

Take my mother-in-law for instance: during her entire battle with cancer, she was joyful. She would say: ‘This is a win-win situation. Either I am going to be healed and so many people will see that God performed this miracle, or He will call me home and I will be in heaven with Jesus. Win-win.’

Her suffering became a testimony for others. She used her situation to talk to many people about Jesus.

Does He allow disaster to make soil for salvation?

Based on my mother-in-law’s story, how we react in adversity might just be the seed for someone else’s salvation.”

LETTING GO OF NEEDING TO UNDERSTAND IT ALL

“God sees things much more intricately than we could possibly see them. I’ve always known that, but now I understand it differently.

The book of Job has always been one of my least favorite books of the Bible. I’d rather not spend time meditating on such suffering.

But I became interested in the book of Job in an unlikely way— through Johnny Cash. I’m a Johnny Cash fan, and I love his book Forever Words—a collection of his unpublished poems and song lyrics. Cash was really interested in the book of Job and became an amateur scholar in the book of Job later in his life.

The book of Job reminds me that our human brains see very little of God’s masterful plan.

It reminds me that when I ask the question “Why, God?’ there is not usually an answer that will satisfy us in our limited scope. 

So I let go of needing all of the answers and remember that He always knows what He is doing. And I remind myself that it is not my job to explain God fully because no one can.”


I love Deidre’s revelation that our God is He who allows the living to die in order to create richer soil for new growth. 

And a comfort to me when I experience suffering is that our trials refine us to be more like Him. If there were only goodness and light in the world we would never have the occasion to grow; we would never need His strength in supplication.

In her 18 months of difficulty, Deidre has become more dependent on Jesus than she has ever been in her life. And as life eases up, she looks forward to connecting with other mothers or those grieving losses and offer her experience as a testimony to the goodness of God in all circumstances.

with His love,

Adelaide

To connect with Deidre:

One thought on “What is God Doing in My Season of Suffering?

  1. I can relate to this story on so many levels. Thank you ladies for sharing it! Hugs 🤗

    Like

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