A few weeks ago, Tom and Keith (his boss/partner in crime) were asked to give the sermon on February 20 and 23. There aren’t too many things that scare my husband, but this freaked him out. No matter how comfortable you are with communicating to others, preaching for a large church is daunting. There are a lot of people in the pews and bright lights on your face, and it can be overwhelming.
I wrote last week about partnering with God to bring beauty out of pain. It is really special when you find ways to do it. However, practicing it isn’t always the easiest thing. So when Tom came home and asked me if he could share our story as part of the sermon, including the video of our baby’s heartbeat, it was hard to know how to respond. It is terrifying to be vulnerable, but even more so with a story that you don’t particularly like. I loved the story when it ended with a miracle heartbeat. This would have made for a great sermon! But our miracle was stolen from us. How can something like that be used for good?
But I told Tom “yes” for the same reason I have been blogging about our infertility and loss: because I know I am not the only one who suffers. It is scary to take off our masks on Sunday morning, scary to be vulnerable and authentic with people. We put on our best face, because we think that is the only way to receive love. But Jesus didn’t preach to the satisfied, he preached to those who were suffering. They were the ones to whom he offered hope. And I wanted Tom to do the same.
Miracles are great, but the more shocking stories are the ones in which the very worst happens and yet all is not lost. And that is our story, the story of being crushed to the point of despair and yet finding that we are anchored to something stronger than our pain. It’s the realization that suffering does not mean we have been abandoned by God; if anything, it means he is nearer and the comfort is greater. That’s where we have found hope along our journey.
So Tom shared about our infertility and the loss of our baby, and as he did, something miraculous happened. He not only got through it, but he was the most comfortable and confident I have ever seen him while speaking. I could only sit through one of the sermons, and I can only re-watch snippets of the first 10 minutes, so I don’t really know how he did it three times. But he was so brave and there was so much grace upon him. It is a picture of partnership; Tom’s willingness to share and God’s willingness to uphold him while he did it.
So enjoy these words from my meat-loving husband (vegetarians, know that I get you, even if Tom does not) and our brilliant spiritual formation pastor, Keith.