Revive Our Hearts Radio

Trusting God's Choice

Leslie Basham: After multiple miscarriages and giving birth to a full-term stillborn baby, Mark and Sarah Vroegop were perplexed but not despairing.

Mark Vroegop: I think God in His Word gives us the grace to live in this dual world between, “God, I know You’re in control, but this really stinks. I know You have loving hands, but I don’t want this in my life.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, May 8.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We’ve had some tears shed in the studio as we’ve been listening to the story from Mark and Sarah Vroegop. Life is hard. Life in a fallen world is hard, and there are tears. But the Scripture says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy does come in the morning.”

That’s why it’s not bad to talk about the hard things and the pain because in the process we can point to the joy and point to the God who reveals Himself and His grace and mercy in the midst of the pain.

So, Mark and Sarah, welcome back to Revive Our Hearts. Thank you so much for being willing to open your souls. It’s one thing to live this journey privately. It’s another thing to relive it now several years later. And I sense in both of you as you talk about these things, it’s still pretty fresh.

Mark: Yes. It is. It’s great to be with you. It was eight years ago, but it’s still there. You never forget the lessons God teaches you.

Nancy: If you haven’t been with us for the last couple of days, I want to encourage you to go to ReviveOurHearts.com and pull up the last two programs where Mark and Sarah have been sharing their journey of how God blessed them first with three boys—the first were twins, and then another—Jeremiah—after that.

Then a couple of miscarriages were the first part of a difficult journey here, and then a pregnancy that they thought was going to go to full term. It did go to full term, but, as we were wrapping up the program yesterday, they had just learned that the baby was no longer living. The baby had died, and Sarah’s now going to have to go into the hospital and deliver this baby that she knows is no longer living.

They’ve had to go through the journey of telling their children and the children going to the hospital, not to take home a baby sister, but to be there while their mom delivers a baby who has not lived.

Boy, there’s no easy way to say that; no easy way to walk through it. But in the midst of that all, you were experiencing that inexpressible, unexplainable grace that doesn’t make it easy, but that walks with you.

Sarah, as you’re going into the hospital now to deliver this stillborn baby, what are you experiencing?

Sarah Vroegop: I was experiencing, like you said, unexplainable grace, like I have never experienced before in my life. I was feeling so incredibly loved by God because I knew I was walking into something very difficult and very painful, knowing that I had to go through this next few hours of physical pain and difficulty only to deliver a deceased child. Yet the Lord was sustaining me and helping me through that.

He was surrounding us with family and friends and people from our church that was just there to support and love on our kids and just walk this path with us, which was just a huge help in our healing and just in walking through this. So I headed into labor and delivery and labored for several hours and eventually delivered her through a very, very difficult and complicated delivery. It was just very different delivering a child that’s not moving and working its way out, and so it was very complicated.

At that point we did not know that it was a little girl. I delivered her. The doctor put her on my chest and allowed us to hold her and cut the umbilical cord, and there I was holding a nine-pound baby that . . .

Mark: . . . was perfectly formed.

Sarah: Yes, perfectly formed. The first thing I said when he laid her on my chest was, “Oh, she looks just like Hayden”—our oldest son. But at that moment we just wanted to hold our little girl and look at her. Just like you do with a live baby, you just look all over their body, and you’re just amazed at how everything’s formed. And she did—she looked perfect. Everything looked normal.

Mark: As if she would just all of a sudden wake up. You look at her, and you’re just thinking, “Just wake up, baby. Just wake up.” I remember Sarah running her fingers through her little hair, and she just said, “What happened to you, sweetie?” It’s a really special moment, but it’s really, really hard.

To this day, even with lots of other tests, we have no idea what happened. It’s an unexplained stillbirth. That’s what they called it. And we don’t need to know why because at that moment, what really matters, and what had been going on in both of our hearts—especially Sarah’s—was, “God is good, even though this is really, really hard.”

We spent time just with her and then there comes a point in time when it’s time to say goodbye. There’s a long walk down the OB ward and then just turning her, the body, over to the medical staff and then trying to help mom heal.

After that we had a funeral for her, which was really meaningful and special and brought finality. But there’s something that’s really hard about . . . it’s something very unnatural. I know other parents have faced this. First: You don’t outlive your kids. And secondly: You don’t leave them in cold fields and drive away.

That’s really hard. And yet, at the same time, there’s hope, but it’s very, very challenging. Yet God gave us grace through that.

Nancy: Then it’s not over. You drive away from that field, and you go back to your home, having anticipated having a newborn baby there. Everybody else goes back to their home. Their life goes back to normal. And you go back to . . . Did you have a room prepared for the baby?

Sarah: Yes, fully prepared. We had her crib all set up and clothes in the drawer. That was another dark hour when you come home from the hospital. You’re bringing your newborn into the house and introducing the newborn to the dog—“This is your bedroom”—and we didn’t get to do that, and that was a very dark moment as well.

Mark: It’s a hard decision for parents who’ve lost children—it’s simple, but it’s a big deal: Do you keep the bedroom up for a week, a month, a year—what? That’s a really challenging thought. There’s just so much grief connected to that room because it used to be a room of joy and hope, and now every time you go in there it’s a reminder of the pain and the sorrow.

We began as a family just to take things one day at a time and begin trying to apply God’s grace. We weren’t angry with God, although we had some folks—not in our church—but some nursing staff who tried to help, but one of them said, “You know, it’s okay for you to be angry with God.”

I just remember looking at her and smiling, and I said, “Thank you. I appreciate your concern, but how could I possibly be angry with God? I’m not. I know God has good purposes in this. I can’t see it right now, but I know that He is good, and I can’t be angry. I won’t be angry.”

Gratefully, God spared us from and helped us to not go there, and part of it was because, I think, just the grid through which we’ve tried to see life. This is hard, but it doesn’t mean that it’s bad. I think that was a really important piece.

In the weeks and months to come, we had to fight through that—daily, weekly—reminding ourselves, “God is good.”

Sarah: And fight is a good word. I felt like I was fighting for my joy, fighting for peace, fighting for right thinking. We talk a lot in our home about preaching truth to yourself, and when those lies come at you, you just have to remind yourself of the truth.

Boy, I felt like I was in a day-by-day fight for the truth and fighting fear and fighting sadness and just really wrestling day by day to just continue to have the joy of the Lord. As those weeks went on, and every time you had to walk past that empty crib, fighting for joy and right thought became a big theme in our home.

Mark: It was also, as a husband, very scary to watch my wife grieve in ways I’d never seen her grieve before. As a man, wanting to try and fix it, the deep struggle with the fact that there’s a part of her heart that only Jesus can really heal.

Part of my faith walk in that season was just trusting that, “God, You’re her Lord. Jesus, You’re her Lord. I’m not. You can meet her needs that I can’t.” And learning like Hebrews says to live on Him who is invisible and praying that over my wife and that for me.

In the meanwhile, in a church ministry setting, people still need to be counseled, sermons still need to be written, still pouring out when you feel like you’ve got a huge leak in your soul. We’d go to bed some nights, and we’ve consumed all the grace we have for today and believing that tomorrow when we wake up, there’s going to be fresh grace for us.

And so we tried to live our life in twenty-four-hour increments of grace. “We did today. We don’t know what tomorrow has, but God’s promised us there’s going to be enough grace for us tomorrow. And we have grace for everything we’re going to face tomorrow.”

So sometimes the most spiritual thing we ever did was to go to bed and say, “We’ve fought today.” Sometimes tearfully we’d just say, “Lord, we’re so tired, and we’re just going to believe that tomorrow You’re going to be there.” And sure enough, God’s grace was new every day, and He helped us day by day.

Nancy: Boy, isn’t that wise counsel for every one of us in every season of life—the stressful seasons, the suffering seasons. I’m being challenged as I’m hearing you say that, Mark, that God has grace for me for today and enough grace for this twenty-four-hour period. When I come to the next twenty-four-hour period with whatever it faces—things I know I’m facing and things I don’t know I’m facing—there will be grace for that as well.

I sometimes wonder . . . you don’t experience the reality of that until you have nowhere else to go and nothing else to hang on to other than the grace of God. Isn’t that part of the point of suffering, to make us desperately needy that we can’t go twenty-four hours without leaning hard on Him?

Mark: Yes. Job said it so well when he said, “I heard of You by the hearing of my ear, but now my eye sees You.” I think grief does that. It gives you clarity on who God is and who you are, what’s really important in life and how much you really need God.

Grief isn’t tamed. It is a hard foe to deal with. Yet in the midst of all of that, God shows up, and you learn how to live in this tension between divine sovereignty beyond comprehension and pain that’s beyond belief. Those two things just are; they co-exist together.

I think God in His Word gives us the grace to live in this dual world between, “God, I know You’re in control, but this really stinks. I know You have loving hands, but I don’t want this in my life.”

Frankly, if God had given us a choice between a live baby and learning how to glorify Him through this process, I know we would have chosen a live baby. I’m so grateful that God’s sovereignty and in His goodness, He made the choice for us. For us there was great freedom and comfort in that, knowing that God has great purposes beyond what we can even imagine. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to accept all of that. It’s a daily fight.

Sarah: Yes, and going through something this difficult takes you to a level of desperation that you’ve never experienced before. And now looking back on that, that desperation really is a gift because it takes you, like you’ve said, Mark, to a whole new level of depending on God and trusting Him and believing the things that you’ve read for years in the Bible about His promises and clinging to His truth. That desperation truly is something that we can look back and say we’re thankful and it was good to feel that desperate—not that we would have asked for it, but it was definitely a gift.

Nancy: And the suffering wasn’t over.

Mark: No.

Nancy: There was more to come. I guess it’s a good thing the Lord doesn’t let us see in advance what we’re going to have to trust Him for because we might say, “I just don’t want to sign up for that.”

Let me fast forward just a minute here, and then in the next program, I want to come back and reflect further on some of this. After this stillbirth, you went through another miscarriage, having already had a couple previously. You were actually here ministering at the Life Action Ministries Family Camp when you were carrying that baby. You had another issue of service that proved to be compounding grief upon grief. How did that happen, Sarah?

Sarah: Yes. I did have a miscarriage after losing Sylvia, and then I had a positive pregnancy test. We went to the doctor and had an ultrasound—went in there into the ultrasound room, which was the exact same ultrasound room that we had when they confirmed that Sylvia had passed away.

We are anticipating good news because my numbers were looking good, and a look came over our physician’s face that we recognized, and it was not a good one. Once again, he had to deliver some very discouraging news to us that we were experiencing a medical issue called ablated ovum.

He explained to us that my numbers looked good because my body had prepared a home for a baby, but that there was no baby living in the home. I really wasn’t pregnant. So, there again, we’re faced with a very discouraging and dark day when he had to give us that news.

Mark: So you can imagine just the shock and the disappointment that, here we are, the joy that was gone again. This was just so hard. The excitement has now turned to grief.

I remember getting in the car after that doctor’s appointment, and before I turned on the ignition, I just looked over at Sarah, not even knowing what to say, just shaking our heads. We talked, in that moment it felt as if God was mean. I mean, to have the numbers and then go in and have the doctor, in the same room, and the same look, say there’s a home but there’s no baby—it was really, really dark.

At that moment, it was so scary because it felt like we were on the edge of unbelief. God is good; He’s good; He’s good, and then this. I mean, this is pushing the envelope of: What in the world is going on here?

That was a really hard moment, and yet, in the midst of that, we just said, “Lord, would You help us to keep trusting You?” There was this little phrase someone had given to us in the midst of our loss with Sylvia and that was we just needed to keep trusting the One who keeps us trusting.

We just said, “Lord, would You keep us trusting in You” because at that moment we feel like we’re about ready to give up. And the Lord answered that prayer in small increments, helping us that day to trust Him, but it was very, very, very hard.

I was just thinking, “Lord, I don’t know how much more my wife can take of this.” And our greatest fear was that we would never be able to conceive a child again. I wondered if that was actually where we were going to be, if we’d actually hit the floor on our grief, or if there was still more that was coming. That was scary.

Nancy: And the fact is, we don’t know what’s coming. You didn’t know then what was coming next—we don’t—you still don’t—for the future. I’m just thinking, Mark and Sarah, as we’ve been talking here that we’ve got listeners who, today, are on the dark side of God’s will and just about to go over that cliff of unbelief.

Maybe there’s somebody listening who just needs to pray that prayer that you were praying at that moment, “Lord, keep us trusting.” You realized that if God doesn’t hold on to you, you can’t hold on to Him, and yet you found at that moment that He did hold on to you.

Now, you’re talking about it some years later, but I want to say to that person who’s hanging by their fingernails and feeling like they’re falling into that precipice of unbelief that God is able to keep you trusting. What was that line again?

Mark: “We keep trusting the One who keeps us trusting.”

Nancy: Mark and Sarah have more to share with us of what they’ve seen of God’s heart and God’s ways through this journey. We’re going to pick that up on the next Revive Our Hearts.

But maybe just right now, pray that prayer, and say, “Lord, I can’t keep myself trusting, but You can keep me trusting.” Know that God will be faithful in that very dark place, that He is going to cling to you and enable you to keep clinging to Him.

Leslie: Maybe you know someone in the kind of dark place we’ve been hearing about. Maybe this conversation between Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mark and Sarah Vroegop would help them. You can send them a link to the audio online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or get them a copy of the series on CD. It’s called “When a Heartbeat Goes Silent.” Get all the details on ordering that series at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Nancy’s here to tell you about another resource that will ground your heart or the heart of a friend during challenging times.

Nancy: When it feels like life is falling apart, as it did for many times for Mark and Sarah through this whole difficult experience, that’s when it’s so important to set our minds on the truth of God’s Word, to fix our hearts on Him.

In the last few years, there’s a special CD that has helped me to do just that as I’ve walked through some personal valleys. That CD is called, “Hidden in My Heart.” It’s a collection of Scriptures that have been set to music in the form of lullabies. I’ve shared with you about this before on Revive Our Hearts, and now I’m so glad that the producers of this CD have come out with a second volume, “Hidden in My Heart, vol. 2.” And just like the first volume does, this CD will bring peace to your heart in whatever situation you find yourself in by helping you focus on the truth of God’s Word.

This month we’d like to send you a copy of “Hidden in My Heart,” the second volume, as our way of saying “thank you,” when you make a donation of any amount to help support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.

Now, as I’ve been sharing with you over the past few days, we’re asking God to provide at least $350,000 in contributions during the month of May. That’s significantly more than we receive in most other months of the year, but at the end of May we wrap up our books and begin a new budget cycle. So this amount will help us end our fiscal year in a healthy position.

As we make plans for the next twelve months, one of the projects we really want to tackle is to update our websites to help us better speak with women, and particularly younger women, many of whom are listening on mobile devices.

We also want to do a better job of spreading this message on social media, and to support some of our fast-growing websites like “Lies Young Women Believe,” which is ministering to thousands of teenage girls in a really powerful way.

Meeting this $350,000 goal during the month of May will have a big affect on these kinds of plans, and your gift is important to helping us meet that goal. So if you’ve benefitted from the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, either personally or someone in your family has, but you’ve never supported the ministry financially, would you consider starting with a gift this month?

You can do that by giving us a call at 1–800–569–5959. When you make a donation of any size, be sure to ask for the CD, “Hidden in My Heart, vol. 2.”

If you’d rather make a gift online, you can do that at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Thanks so much for praying for us about this need and for standing with us as we trust God for His provision over these next few weeks.

Leslie: Your pain can become a platform for worship. Mark and Sarah Vroegop explain how tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts. I hope you can be back with us.

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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