A guest post by Jennifer Kostick.
Nearly twenty-six years ago, I stood at a candlelit altar promising forever to the love of my life. I loved him, wanted to marry him, and deep inside my bones I believed forever was possible. What never occurred to me in the middle of new marital bliss was that forever forces perseverance. Forever makes us redefine love and challenges who we are from the inside out.
Forever holds authority to make or break us.
We were young, and I believe in young. I don’t believe youth gets anybody off the hook when the promise of forever is on the table. Youth provides unique opportunity to not only grow in relationship but to also grow up in relationship. This can happen fast when a harsh wind comes to blow a couple off the foundation of forever. Audacity is required. It takes courage to stand with someone and not against them.
At first, life was beautiful for us. After six months of marriage I was pregnant and we had our first baby – a healthy boy. When our son was only seven months old, unexpectedly, I became pregnant again. That’s when the wind came. It blew in the form of miscarriage, strong and mighty. We ended up suffering two devastating losses in a row. To say the least, the next time we became pregnant I was scared to death. I could not wait to hit the twelve week mark so that we could hear a heartbeat and celebrate God’s miracle gift to us.
Twelve weeks ushered in the beautiful Doppler sound of life. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh rushed her tiny heartbeat filling our lives with the overflow of everything we knew God to be: Faithful. I felt relief… until I didn’t.
Sunday, June 30th 1996 began like any other day, except that my ankles were super swollen. I knew that to be a normal symptom when one is well into their third trimester, because of this I wasn’t overly concerned. I was thirty-five weeks pregnant, and I knew it wouldn’t be much longer before we met our baby girl. We named her Courtney Elizabeth.
The next morning when I awoke my ankles were back to size but something else was amiss. She wasn’t moving. I called the doctor who advised me to lie down and count kicks. She said I should feel at least eight in an hour. I called my husband; he came home from work to sit with me. The clock was relentless. It ticked for an hour while I waited for movement. There was none.
We immediately headed to the doctor’s office where she performed an ultrasound confirming our worst fears. Our sweet baby was stillborn. The wind raged around us threating to steal our forever.
In the midst of so much devastation, there was one particular moment that defined our marriage with forever’s fingerprints. The doctor left the room to call the hospital and schedule an induction. I sat upright on the examining table, looked at my husband who was sitting in a chair across from me and said,
“I don’t think I can do this.”
He stood to his feet, walked over to meet me, cupped my face with his hands, stared me straight in the eyes and said, “We are going to do this together.” We were in our early twenties. Together doesn’t always make life easy, but it does make life possible. Two are better than one. (See Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
The storm wind continued to blow in the form of a terrible bout with infertility and three more miscarriages – one of which almost took my life. To this day, everything I’ve told you still hurts, but not in the way you might think. Here’s why: yes, nasty wind comes to shake foundations built on faith, but that kind of wind does not have the power to break us. There is another kind of wind. It holds power like none other. Let me explain.
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
In Hebrew, the word for spirit is Ruach, and it literally means wind or breath. At the beginning of creation when everything was dark there lived a hovering wind. When something hovers it stays perfectly in place refusing to move. It’s stubborn. That hovering wind was the actual breath of God. The tangible breath of God, the breath that carries sound and can be felt, was breathing in-and-out, over and over, hovering, in one spot atop the darkness of the waters. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale was the breath of the Creator over that which seemed desolate and void. Before He ever spoke a word, hope was living in His breath. It still lives there! Knowing this, we can feel the deep anticipation of what’s to come. We can grasp how much power the hope in His breath holds!
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
I want you to know something: forever speaks in the language of Light. (See John 8:12) Every married couple will encounter suffering of some kind but that suffering in no way has the power or authority to break the covenant foundation. We often give up and give in to a crumbling foundation, because the perseverance forever requires takes more strength than we can muster. There is good news: forever speaks! Our God is our forever and He speaks light and life. He speaks strength and hope. He speaks.
I cannot begin to imagine the sound of His sob as Father God spoke in the form of sending His Son, Jesus, to the cross. I believe His sob is what shook the ground that day, and friend, He shook that ground to ensure that our ground would be unshakable. With Christ, our marriages are immoveable if we choose audacity over timidity. With Christ, we have the power to choose commitment over crisis. With Christ, our love stories transform because of the agape love of a God who breathed light into darkness. With Christ, we have the ability to love wholly, holy.
My husband and I did not do everything perfectly. We cried, yelled, and even shook our fists at the sky a few times.
No one lowers a tiny, pink casket into the ground and comes out unscathed.
But we did come out together, and we did it because we serve a God who promises purpose in pain. Our marriage has purpose, and so does yours! Regardless of the skin you wear and the flesh you fight, there is more for you than you can ever see with human eyes.
Your purpose was spoken before the creation of this world, I believe that, and the two of you have power to face anything, anything at all, when you face it with Jesus.
Guest post by: Jennifer Kostick
Jennifer Kostick is an author and speaker who teaches women how to activate their life’s purpose through the study of Scripture. She promises that the more time you spend in the Word, God WILL speak to you and guide you to your purpose.
Jennifer knows more about grief and loss than she ever thought she would, but Jesus met her in the middle of fierce storms and held her tightly with an even fiercer love. The agape love of God changed Jennifer’s life and it is that same love which drives her to tell her story and teach the scriptures that changed her circumstances. Whether Jennifer is speaking to you through the pages of her books, her blog posts, or in the same room at conference or retreat, you will feel her passion and know her deep love for Jesus.
In addition to her love of teaching the powerful truth of Scripture, Jennifer is married to Paul, her husband of twenty-five years, has three children, and a beautiful daughter-in-law! She is also a full-time seminary student… because you can never know too much about the Bible!
BOOK: Nothing to Hold but Hope