Choosing to Rejoice When You Don’t Feel Joyful

Our Plan

We had been married for 13 years and had no children.  My husband and I decided to make the most of the situation.  My husband had just received a faculty position in a state with rivers and lakes.  I was going to work an administrative job while pursuing an MBA.   During the summer and college breaks, we would sail our 27-foot cabin cruiser around the Great Lakes and explore. Life was planned. Life was great.

The Obstacle

I was pregnant!

NOOOOOOO!    All our plans were ruined.  My husband was not excited.  I was terrified.  Never having babysat, I was clueless.  I didn’t know anything about kids except they were loud and messy.

Our second-story apartment was small.  Having just moved, we had no money.  No baby furniture and no family to help us purchase and move the furniture.   My husband was swamped at his new job working crazy hours.  He was barely coping with his new responsibilities.  My desperation was almost more than he could handle.

As the pregnancy continued, my body was changing and was out of my control.  We had no family, no solid friends, in a brand-new city.  I was alone.  I did not ask for this child to interrupt our lives.   I did not want it changing my body.  I did not want it.

I shared my distress with the ladies at the church we were attending.   They were horrified by my comments.  They could not imagine why I would feel this way.  “After all, having children is what women were created to do. You should be excited to be blessed with a baby.”  These “church ladies’ ” condemnation only increased my anxiety and utter aloneness.

The Problem

I fell into a deep depression.   I wanted to die.   I hated what was happening to me and to my life.  If I had not been absolutely sure that abortion was wrong, I would have been at the clinic within the first three months.

Incredible guilt, hopelessness, and sickness filled my days and nights.  Suicidal thoughts were common.

One Sunday night at church the pastor spoke from Psalm 57 when David, who had already been anointed king, was running away from Saul, the current king.  David was hiding in a cave in fear of his life.   He SHOULD be king in the palace — that was the plan.  However, the current situation did not reflect the promise of kingship.  David had no control over what the king was doing.   This was not his choice.  What did David do?

I listened intently.   My situation felt like David’s–desperate, alone, and feeling like all the plans were falling apart.

The pastor brought his sermon to an end stating that David rejoiced and was thankful because he trusted in God and knew His character.   As I knelt, I wept and cried out to God.  I asked His forgiveness for not being able to be thankful for this child and this situation.   I knew I should be thankful, but I wasn’t.  I was angry and frustrated.  EVERY THING HAD CHANGED!!!  AND I HAD NO SAY IN THE MATTER.

How could I overcome this?  How could I be thankful?

The Solution

Psalm 57:

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.

I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.

I am in the midst of lions; I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

They spread a net for my feet—I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—but they have fallen into it themselves.

My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

My problem was not being pregnant–it was my perspective.  Psalm 57 kept rolling over in my mind. Through that psalm, God reminded me that I could CHOOSE to rejoice.  Not because I’m happy.  Not because I like the situation.  Not because I am in control.   I choose to rejoice because God is steadfast.  I choose to be thankful because He is with me in the midst of my despair.

So what did I do about this?   I wrote the words “I WILL” on pieces of paper and put them up all over the apartment.  I spoke them out loud while doing dishes, drying my hair, vacuuming, making the bed–all the time.  I prayed this psalm over and over.  I reminded myself, “It is a choice I make every minute of every day.  I will be grateful.  I will rejoice because God loves me.”

God’s Word healed my heart, my depression, and my perspective.  By the end of the pregnancy I was at peace with the turn our lives had taken.   God’s great love and faithfulness would always be with me.  He would work out His plan for my life, our lives.

God’s Plan

(So much better than our plan.)

Our son was born at 1:30 a.m. at 9 lbs and 1 oz, 21” long and very healthy.   It took a few weeks for the full maternal emotions to hit.  When they did, oh man.   I fell in love with that baby boy.   So did my husband.

Four years later I gave birth to a beautiful daughter.   Our lives have been rich and full because of our children.   I would not have had it any other way.  Today both our children are serving God, married/engaged to wonderful people, and excited to see what God’s plan is for their lives.

More Than I Could Ever Ask For

When I was suicidal and at the end of my rope, it was not songs, saints, or sayings that rescued me.  It was Scripture–the very words that God Himself spoke to His people, to me.   The same breath that created the world spoke these words, and still speaks these words to us today.  He creates newness and life in us.

As we quote these holy words, they become part of our hearts, minds, and souls.   His thoughts become our thoughts.   His wholeness heals us.   His holiness cleans us.   His love rescues us.  The Word of God is so much more than sufficient:  It is everything we need.

The Glory of God changes everything


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