My struggle with PPA after Ivan’s birth was much worse than it was with either of my girls. It came at night in waves. Just as I was about to go to sleep, I would have intrusive thoughts about Ivan suffocating. Or my girls running into the road. Of me falling down the stairs with the baby in my arms. I would wake up gasping and crying as Josh reached out to calm me, holding my head and praying me back to sleep.
I knew how to deal with it holistically and was well supported by my midwife and husband. In the throes of it, though, the anxiety felt overwhelming. I shared on Instagram how the heaviness of that season caused me to seriously doubt the goodness of God. Why did I deserve to have a living child when other women watched theirs descend to a grave? I spent months poring over books about the problem of evil. Josh started to get concerned. “You should stop reading,” He said, taking If God Why Evil? out of my hands. I took it back. “If I don’t read this I won’t have answers. I have to know. I have to know if He is good.”
When I talked about this online – after the fog lifted a bit – a woman (who I since have not been able to find and thank) sent me a direct message. She shared her story of infant loss. How the pain seemed insurmountable. How her worst fears came true. Then she shared the restoration and hope of the two subsequent babies she bore, who would never replace the one she lost but who healed and soothed her aching heart.
When you go through pain and loss, she said, you start to believe the blessings you receive will inevitably bring suffering too. It’s as if you can’t fully enjoy the goodness because doing so will usher in something “bad”. God is standing there, holding the other shoe, ready to drop it when we like life a little too much. He has to “even out” the abundance; make sure we don’t get too happy. But that’s not who He is, she told me. The last line of her message struck like an arrow in my heart: May His abundance never scare you.
That line became a balm to my heart. I made it my lock screen. My sister hammered it into copper and stitched it into my bible. On days I sense those intrusive thoughts rising again – the doubts about His goodness, the lie that the beauty of God’s blessings are just a holding pattern for suffering – I repeat those words under my breath.
May His abundance never scare you.
The lie that suffering is more holy than Sabbath seasons is just that: a lie. Suffering teaches us much; the things I’ve learned through chronic illness, surgery, job loss, false labors and a difficult marriage will be with me forever. The imprint is eternally upon my heart. But I am learning that our abundant seasons, our harvest seasons, are as full of lessons and goodness as the famine was. Refusing to accept them just shortchanges our growth. Refusing to open our hands and hearts to the fullness of God’s abundance helps no one and hurts us.
As I write, I can think of countless people walking through suffering. Two people dear to my heart have cancer. Another has two small babies in the NICU. One is wrestling for her marriage. One is navigating long term singleness. One is grieving five deaths in the last two years. I could think: I don’t deserve my blessings. I’m not in a hard season. This isn’t fair, I can’t accept it. I could do that. But I’d be making this season about me.
Accepting God’s abundance is not a motivator to greed. It’s the engine of generosity.
As we emerged from five successive years of stress, sin, and loss, our Sabbath season felt wrong. I was accustomed to clutching my Bible-buoy while the storm battered from every side. Our sea is calm now. His abundance, which sustained us then, has blessed us with peace. And rather than fear it – rather than fear the “other shoe” – this is our season to give back. When I was clutching that buoy I had no hands to serve. I was completely consumed with my own trials. And that was okay! It was my season.
But my season has changed, and in this time of reaping I have the resources to pour out for others. I have the never-ending abundance of God – physically, emotionally, spiritually. Without the weight of my own trials, I am that much more free to pray, to give, to serve, to reach, to gather, to love.
If I could pass the encouragement of the woman in my DMs onto you, I would. Accept the reaping season. Embrace the harvest… and invite others to your table. Rather than fear it, resent it, feel guilty for it, use it. Rather than question why God would be good to you, let His goodness permeate your heart. Let His goodness become who you are to the ones who suffer.
May His abundance never scare you, and always drive you to love.