Revive Our Hearts Radio

Hard is Not Always Bad

Leslie Basham: Nine months into her pregnancy, Sarah Vroegop woke up in the middle of the night and sensed that something was wrong. When her husband, Mark, woke up that morning she told him:

Sarah Vroegop: “I’d been up all night. I’ve been trying to get the baby to move, and I can’t get the baby to move. Something does not seem right.”

Mark Vroegop: I remember getting out of my bed and getting down on my knees, and I said, “God, please! Not this! This, no, no, no! Not this! Not this! Not this!” The thought of this type of blow to our family and to my wife when we were only, I don’t know what, two or three days away from delivery? It was just, “Lord, please, not this.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, May 6.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I’m so delighted to have with us in the studio today a couple that I’ve known for a number of years. They’ve been close friend of our ministry. In fact, Mark serves on the board of our ministry. Mark and Sarah Vroegop have been on an amazing journey over the last several years. We were sharing recently, and I said, “Would you come and share with our Revive Our Hearts listeners what God has been doing in your lives?”

Mark is a pastor, so he doesn’t mind speaking in front of a microphone at all. Sarah is not accustomed to being in that role quite so much, so she was a little more reticent. But I am so thankful, Mark and Sarah, that you’ve been willing to join us. I know our listeners are going to be really blessed by hearing this story. So thanks for joining us on Revive Our Hearts.

Sarah: You’re welcome.

Mark: We’re grateful to be here, Nancy.

Nancy: Now this is a story that at points is really hard to hear, because it’s a hard journey that the Lord has had you on. In fact, you’ve talked, Mark, about writing a book someday with a title that you just threw out about hardness. Say again what that title was.

Mark: Yes. It’s probably the singular lesson the Lord taught us through all of this which is, “Hard is hard, but hard is not bad.” That’s really the story of our life over the last eight years.

Nancy: I want to remind our listeners of that because as you hear Mark and Sarah’s story, you may not relate to the details of it, but there are hard things in your life. And if there aren’t now, there will be.

So just that reminder. And a thread that will run through this story, that hard is hard, we don’t want to pretend that it’s not. Being a good Christian doesn’t mean pretending that hard isn’t hard. But hard is not bad. In fact, you have found that hard is in the long term good—that it produces good fruit in your lives. We’re going to hear more about that.

I’ll just open your story up here—with the loss of a child, a still birth and multiple miscarriages. So already the mom’s know that what we’re talking about here is going to be really hard. But I want us to go back to your journey before that time.

Sarah, when you and Mark got married, did you say that you wanted to have a lot of children? What was your thinking about that at the time?

Sarah: Yes. We both knew that we wanted to have several children. We really hadn’t put a number on it, but we were ready to, in the Lord’s timing, just get a houseful of kids and be happy parents.

Nancy: Was that a dream you’d had from the time you were a little girl? Did you long to be a mother?

Sarah: Absolutely. Yes. From a little girl, I knew that I always wanted to be the mom and play that role and be a godly mom and a godly wife.

Nancy: And after you got married, how long was it before your first pregnancy?

Sarah: It was about three years. And that’s a story in and of itself. Mark was in seminary. We had kind of made a deal that we weren’t going to have children until he was done with seminary. And I was really itching for kids and really ready and . . .

Mark: I was really not. So it was a Christian “pre-nup” kind of thing. We had an agreement. And then . . .

Sarah: I just really wanted to go ahead and start having children. He finally kind of said, “Okay, we’ll see how it goes.” And of course, I got pregnant right away, and then the big surprise was that it was twins. So here he is trying to finish up his final year of seminary, and I’m very large with twins and getting prepared to bring home two babies.

Nancy: The pregnancy went well?

Sarah: Yes. It was a great pregnancy. I didn’t have any issues. I basically went full term for twins. They consider full term different when you are carrying multiples. I was well over full term. I went thirty-nine-and-a-half weeks and had to be induced.

I was not on bed rest. I just had to rest a few hours a day just because the doctor thought that I probably should. But I felt fine and did great and delivery was great and brought home two incredibly healthy boys, six pounds seven ounces and six pounds eleven ounces.

Nancy: Wow!

Mark: So it was just a breeze, and from a high-risk pregnancy standpoint there were no issues. In fact, they were just amazed. She was just a couple centimeters away from the record of one of the largest wombs that they’d ever seen. I was cheering her on. I wanted to break that record. And finally the boys came.

I remember we were walking out with one of the assistants and they’re just like, “It’s really rare that we have twins that go home two days later.” It was just God’s favor on us. That’s all part of the story—God’s favor in making things fairly easy for a fairly long period of time, as we look back on it.

Nancy: Then the Lord blessed you with a third son.

Sarah: Yes. About three years later I got pregnant again and that was with our son, Jeremiah. And again, very easy pregnancy and delivered him with no issues. He was a big boy from the beginning—still a big boy. Yes, he was an amazing baby. I actually had to take him into the doctor to get his tear ducts checked because he never cried. He was just a joy, and he was precious. So here I had these three very healthy boys at home.

Mark: In the middle of this, just after the boys were born, I became the senior pastor of a church. So we had an active ministry and while in ministry things weren’t always easy, but from a family standpoint, there was this little island of peace and safety and tranquility.

Home was not only an emotional refuge, but it was a practical refuge. Things were kind of like they should be—at least how you think in terms of this dream of what life and marriage would be like.

In fact, we even nicknamed Jeremiah “baby Jesus” because he just didn’t do anything wrong for like the first nine months. He was just so content and life seemed just really calm in just a really neat way.

Nancy: Then you’ve shared with me, Mark, that there came a point where you felt that maybe God was preparing you for some difficulty. How did you start to sense that?

Mark: Yes. It was really odd. I remember actually the moment when it was just very apparent to me. I was at a conference for pastors and I was in the middle of a session on the life of Adoniram Judson. I remember listening to the story of his life . . .

Nancy: For those who aren’t familiar with that name, just give us a thumbnail sketch there.

Mark: Sorry. Adoniram Judson was a missionary, and had a very hard life. I’m not sure of the actual number. It’s been a while since the details of the story. I believe, he buried one, no, two maybe three wives on the mission field. Just had all kinds of very hardship, hard oriented things that happened to him and yet God worked marvelously, not through his preaching message so much but it was through the hardships of his life.

So I remember getting to the end of that sermon on the life of Adoniram Judson and just thinking, “God, I’ve never had to experience that level of suffering and hardship.” There was just this really strange sense that I had within me that the Lord was preparing me for something that was to come. That was a little scary of a feeling. I didn’t know what to do with it and if I was being over emotional or if I was just weary or tired. But I wanted to be sure that if that is what the Lord was saying, I was listening.

Nancy: Did you share that with Sarah?

Mark: I did. Yes. She didn’t really know what to make of it, nor did I. It was like this whole category, I think, pastorally, theologically and personally of hardship and suffering that I really hadn’t thought through. And that we as a couple hadn’t really lived through. We had hard things in ministry. That was one thing. But deep personal suffering was not something that we were accustomed with and gratefully so.

I began doing some thinking, some reading, and just trying to kind of dive into that realm a little bit. At the same time, I just kind of had it in the back of my mind, so it wasn’t like it was front burner. In February 2005 it was a sense that the Lord said this was the thing I needed to start thinking and praying into. I didn’t know why. But later on things began to make more sense.

Nancy: And in the course of this journey, you got pregnant again, Sarah, and miscarried.

Sarah: Yes. After Jeremiah, I had two miscarriages.

Nancy: Early on in the pregnancy?

Sarah: Yes. They were in the first trimester.

Nancy: I’ve never been there. I know some of our listeners haven’t. But many have. Just relate to the emotions at that point.

Sarah: Yes. Any time you get a positive pregnancy test, there are a lot of emotions that happen, and most of the time, I think, for most people, there’s joy. I’m sure at time there’s shock.

So, yes, with both of those pregnancy tests coming back positive just a lot of excitement about the thought of adding another child to our family. And then experiencing the loss of those babies was hard, for sure. You just grieve maybe what it would have been like to have this child and just leaving that in the Lord’s hand that someday I’ll get to see those babies again and hug them.

Nancy: It’s hard on your body, physically at that point to no longer be carrying that child, and it has to be hard on the emotions.

Sarah: Absolutely. For sure. It’s very emotionally draining. It is spiritually draining—just really having to trust the Lord with His timing for that next child. And then after losing two, you just wonder, “Well does this mean then the Lord is no longer going to bless us with children this way?”

Mark: I think it began to awaken both of our spiritual senses to personal dark seasons. It was sort of like the prelude to what was eventually coming. We were starting to think more and walking through those miscarriages was hard. It was really hard. At that point, it was probably one of the most difficult things that we had ever dealt with personally. It’s so private that you don’t let a ton of people into that world. You starting to feel the early tastes of the loneliness and the darkness of what pain is really like.

Nancy: Did it make you afraid to get pregnant again?

Sarah: I don’t think so. I just remember wanting to have more kids and just believing that I just really thought that the Lord was going to bless us with more.

A whole other dynamic in all of this story is the Lord had laid on our heart the whole idea of foster care and adoption. So that was kind of swirling around in our heads that maybe this was the time for that. We just thought that there would be more kids and whether I was going to have them myself or foster or adopt, I just thought that there would be more kids.

Nancy: So how long was it then before the next pregnancy which was going to prove to be the most difficult thing you’d ever been through?

Sarah: Yes. That was probably I’d say maybe a year after those miscarriages and the Lord beginning to work on him.

Nancy: So when you got that next positive pregnancy test, what were your emotions then?

Sarah: You become excited, but there’s a reservation. “I’m not going to go all in emotionally with thinking too far down the road with this baby. We’re just going to wait and see.” It’s a little bit of a waiting game and just asking the Lord, “Will You let me keep this one?” on a daily basis. “And if the answer is 'no,' Lord, help me to be okay with that.” We made it through the first trimester, and we thought we were all set.

Nancy: Home free.

Sarah: Yes. We started to get excited and become emotionally attached to the baby and excited anticipating the birth of this next child.

Mark: That’s one of the hard things, the anticipation of wanting to feel excitement but with that excitement comes the nervousness of, “I don’t want to go too far because I want to self-protect.”

So you go through some really interesting moments of, “Is it okay to be joyful?” Because joy is scary. So all these things are starting to be unpacked as we’re getting more and more excited and looking like, “Hey, we’re through the tough part of this pregnancy.”

Nancy: So how far into the pregnancy was it when you started to sense that something wasn’t right?

Sarah: It was a very hard pregnancy. I struggled physically. I failed my first glucose test, and I just barely failed that one. So I had to wait a little bit, come back, and just barely passed the second one. My doctor said, “You passed it. So we’re okay. You may just want to watch your sugars a little bit.” My iron was low, so I was taking some iron. These were things that I hadn’t experienced with my pregnancies with the boys.

There were definitely two times where something was going on inside of me with the baby that was nothing like I had ever experienced before. The baby was just wrestling inside of me. She was just going all over the place pushing to the point where it took me down to my knees. It wasn’t necessarily painful, but I was like, “Something isn’t right. Something’s going on.”

Nancy: And you knew it was a girl by this point?

Sarah: We did not. Nope. We found out with the twins. Jeremiah, we waited. And we were going to wait with this one. We did wait with this one. So we didn’t know it was a girl. So after she was struggling so significantly inside of me, I called a friend who’s an OB/GYN nurse. She said, “It sounds like you need to go in. Call your doctor, and he’ll send you to the hospital and they’ll do a non-stress test.”

So I did that a few hours after this happened. They hooked me up to all the machinery and monitored the baby and the baby’s movements and everything. They released me and said, “Everything looks fine. The baby’s heart rate’s great. The baby’s moving the way that it’s supposed to. The heartbeat is elevating when it’s supposed to when the baby moves.” They sent me home and said everything is okay.

Nancy: And you’re how far along at this point?

Sarah: I was probably seven or eight months. So she was pretty well developed. I did have some trouble with some pre-term contractions, and he thought I was potentially going into labor. And that was at about thirty-six weeks. My doctor gave me some medication that would stop contractions, and so we took those. I continued for that last month just to really struggle physically.

One of my last appointments, he measured me and said, “Things are going fine. I’ll expect to see you one more time, and then we can expect delivery.” I had to be induced with all my kids, so I was kind of anticipating that to need to be done again. 

It was the last week that I thought I would be pregnant. It was a Sunday night, and we had both fallen asleep. It was about midnight that I just woke up. I wasn’t in pain. Something just didn’t feel right inside of my body. In my heart I just knew something was just not right. So I got up and I spent the entire night until about 5 a.m. trying to get the baby to move—just doing everything I could think of to get baby to move. By 5 a.m. was not successful.

At that point I began to panic. I had spent a lot of time throughout the night praying and pleading with the Lord. So about 5 a.m. I woke Mark up and I said, “I’ve been up all night. I’ve been trying to get the baby to move. I can’t get the baby to move and something does not seem right.” So of course, he asked me to clarify, and we just sat there and talked for a minute.

Mark: Part of the issue that was happening here was that the last six weeks Sarah had really struggled with a lot of fear because of all of these things. So the hard part at this point was trying to discern is this just understandable emotion and fear or is this a real scenario.

When she woke me up, I mean, I’ve never heard this level of concern in her voice. She left the room, I think, to go get ready for the day. We decided we were going to go in to the doctor and have things checked out in the afternoon, so she left the room to go get ready for the day.

I remember getting out of my bed and getting down on my knees and I said, “God, please! Not this! This, no, no, no! Not this! Not this! Not this!” The thought of this type of blow to our family and to my wife when we were only, I don’t know what, two or three days away from delivery? It was just, “Lord, please, not this.” That was very, very scary; I’d never been scared like that in all of my life.

Nancy: You can tell that what is coming here is not going to be easy. This is one of those really, really hard things—what was at this point one of the hardest thing in Mark and Sarah’s life ever. We’re going to continue sharing this story when we come back on Revive Our Hearts, but I want to remind you of what Mark said to us at the very beginning of this program: “Hard is hard, but hard is not bad.” Now, at this point it seems like what’s getting ready to happen is really bad. And from a human standpoint, certainly that’s true.

But what I want us to hear over these next couple of days is that God has ways of redeeming even the hardest things in our lives and making them things that result in His glory and in our good. It doesn’t make it easy, but it does make it worthwhile.

So you want to be sure and join us when we come back with Mark and Sarah Vroegop to hear of God’s providences—God’s hard providences in their lives and how their lives have been changed through that.


Leslie: Maybe you know someone who is going through difficulty and they’d benefit from hearing that conversation between the Vroegop’s and Nancy Leigh DeMoss. To order them a copy on CD, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. And while you’re there, you can also get a copy of a music CD that will bring a lot of comfort. Nancy’s excited to tell you about this CD.

Nancy: A couple of years ago, I stumbled onto a CD that I’ve been recommending to Revive Our Hearts listeners ever since. It’s called, “Hidden in My Heart.” It’s actually a lullaby CD with Scripture passages set to beautiful, calming musical arrangements.

So you might wonder why would I, as a single woman with no children, be listening to a lullaby CD. Well, the reason I’ve gotten so much out of this CD, and I’ve listened to it over and over and over again, is that it helps me to counsel my heart with God’s Word. It provides scriptural reminders of God’s promises.

I was so delighted to learn that the creators of “Hidden in My Heart” have come up with a follow-up albumn called “Hidden in My Heart, volume 2.” Just like the first volume, this CD provides great encouragement to trust God’s promises during every circumstance. Here’s a clip from volume 2.

Song from "Hidden in My Heart":

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end.

Nancy: I’ve got to tell you, I just love the songs on this CD. When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount, we’ll send you this second volume of the CD, “Hidden in My Heart.”

Your gift at this time will help us reach an important goal in the month of May as we’re asking God to provide at least $350,000 from our listeners this month as we end our fiscal year.

Be sure and ask for the CD “Hidden in My Heart” when you call with your support. The number to call is 1-800-569-5959, or you can make your donation online by visiting us as ReviveOurHearts.com.


Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. Tomorrow, Mark and Sarah Vroegop will be back. They’ll explain how to trust God even in the middle of hearing discouraging news. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Song:

Great is your faithfulness, O God.
Your mercies will never end.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.   

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

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