Praise You in this Storm

The testimony of Barabara ,  Mum to Madalyn on April 30, 2006

An edited version of a posting on Carepages.

I had the most amazing weekend, and I hope you will bear with me and let me share. I’ve learned and gained comfort from the fact that whatever I’m feeling, there’s someone else who is feeling that way, too.

But for the past 7 months, I felt lost. I didn’t know how I felt or how I was supposed to feel. I thought I was supposed to be happy and thankful that Madalyn was doing so well. And I WAS. I was all of those things. But at the same time I was sad and angry. I was sad and angry because of all the suffering that doesn’t seem to end.

We lost Lauren on September 23, 2005 after she and her parents had fought for 85 days. My grief was and remains deep and cutting. I think my biggest source of sadness is if I feel this way, I cannot even imagine the physical pain that this grief causes for Scot and Stephanie, or for any of the other wonderful families whose children have gone before them to Heaven.

I looked back over the carepage messages I had left prior to Maddy’s Fontan. I read my words of hope and trust in the Lord. And I believed them then, but I couldn’t find that same belief again. I had trusted Him to bring Maddy through this surgery. And He did. He gave me all I had asked for with my own daughter. And I felt ungrateful because I was angry that He didn’t do the same for my friends.

I truly and honestly felt lost. Todd and the girls are growing in their faith so strong. And I love it. But I felt left behind. Todd came to know God after our marriage, and truly not until after Madalyn was born. I was always the strong one and then he had stepped to the front to be the spiritual leader of our family, just as I had always hoped. But instead of being happy for that, I was resentful. He had all of that new-found joy and enthusiasm, and I felt like an empty shell of myself. There were Sundays I couldn’t even find the strength to go to church. And many days I was there, I was searching to feel the way I once had. I KNEW God had not left me, but I let my anger and grief build a wall.

I would go back to church and I would ask God to heal my heart. But then I would let the anger and grief creep back in the rest of the week. I had always been terrible about giving my problems to God and then taking them back again when He didn’t fix them in what I thought was a timely manner. I guess that’s something I still need to work on.

I just didn’t know how I felt. There was grief, there was anger, there was guilt because my daughter was doing so well and I STILL wasn’t happy. But that wasn’t all of it, but I couldn’t put a name on what I was feeling. I didn’t think I was depressed. I knew I could’ve gone to our wonderful doctor and talked with her and she would have given me something that might have helped me stop feeling like this. But I didn’t think that was the answer for me, either.

Then, a few weeks ago, I heard a song on the radio and I instantly loved it. I began to hear it more, then I looked up the lyrics and they truly, truly spoke to me. Even though I had attempted to shut God out of my heart, I know He was trying to reach me through these words. The song is “Praise You in this Storm” by Casting Crowns. The lyrics are so moving and so powerful, even more so when heard with the music. But here they are for you to read:

I was sure by now
That you would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry
You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can’t find you

I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm


I lift my eyes unto the hills Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord The Maker of Heaven and Earth

I LOVE this song. Everything I was feeling was spelled out. If I was talented, I could have written this song. In the middle of this storm, I kept praying and fully expected God to make it quit raining and the sun to shine again, but when I said Amen, the storm would still be raging.

And the sound of my own anger and grief was so loud sometimes that I never heard Him. I never sat and listened. And how appropriate the line “Though my heart is torn.” Our children’s hearts are torn literally, and in turn ours are torn emotionally. And with the chorus, I began to feel my own heart heal as I finally stopped to listen to God. That He was always by my side. I had turned my back and allowed the anger to come between me and my Heavenly Father.

When I bought the CD, there was a note at the beginning of the lyrics to this song. It says, “If there ever were a test of our faith – if there ever were a test of the motives of our worship – it is when a storm rolls into our lives. We watched and prayed for a precious little girl named Erin Edwards struggle with a deadly disease for several years. The courage, the witness, and the worship of Erin’s mother Laurie inspired this song. Sometimes God calms our storms. Sometimes He chooses to ride them with us.”

The fact that this song was inspired by a situation much the same as the one so many of us face was a strong comfort to me. It made me feel not so alone. The truth of this song made it easier for me to seek back into a relationship with God. I still grieved, but I was able to remember that He is the One who is in control. I have always believed in a purpose for everything, and I knew that purpose would not always be revealed to me here on Earth, but I had to try and trust the One who knows.

Then, this weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Women of Faith conference in Columbus. The theme for this year’s conferences is “Contagious Joy.” I had never been to a Women of Faith conference, so didn’t know what to expect. First, it was amazing to be sitting in a huge arena with 18,000 other women and feel the presence of the Lord so strongly. When I found out the theme for the conference, I was excited. I was hoping I would catch some of that contagious joy, because I hadn’t felt joyful in a really long time. I was healing, but felt a long way from joy.

Friday evening started with some amazing praise and worship, introductions, and then some of the funniest things I have ever heard from a lady named Anita Renfroe. She definitely brought the joy to the Contagious Joy conference. We all laughed so hard we were crying. All of the speakers and all of the singing were just beautiful.

Then, on Saturday, a lady named Nicole Johnson took the stage. She is a dramatist and author and a regular part of the WOF team. Any of you who have attended one of these conferences has seen her. Right before lunch, she acted out a scene where she is a woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She likens that with suddenly waking up in your pajamas in a boxing ring with the heavyweight champion and not even knowing how to throw a punch.

While she is talking, she is acting all of this out. It is incredibly moving as she talked about all of the “punches” you take. And although she had written this as a comparison to a cancer diagnosis, I found so many truths in what we struggle with in our lives with our children. I’m sure there was not a dry eye in the place.

But, then at the end, she said something that moved me so completely. I went beyond the quiet “public” tears where they just slip from your eyes, to that knot in your throat and sobs that make your body shake. Nicole said (and I am paraphrasing what “I” heard as I was crying, but the statements that made an impact on me) we don’t know what we are fighting and so we take jabs at the people we love, our families, our husbands. But what we are fighting is the biggest liar. The one who sneaks in and whispers to us that things will never be all right again, that we (our children) will never be better and something horrible is going to happen. We are fighting against despair.

It was like a light bulb went on through my tears. My mom, who was sitting next to me, even said, “Now you have a word for where you have been.” Despair. I have been in despair. I looked it up this morning. The definition of despair is: To lose all hope. To be overcome by a sense of futility or defeat.

Suddenly, I knew. And the knowing was so powerful. It was like I finally had a name to put to what I had been feeling. And since I had a name, I could fight it! Nicole said one last thing. Cancer (heart defects) can never win. Disease can take parts of us, God help us, it can even take our children. But NOTHING can take eternity from us, and that is where we ALWAYS win. God always wins in the end and if we can stay strong, we will win, too. No matter what happens on this Earth, Heaven is our reward.

As I was reeling from these truths and crying into the half of a napkin my mom had been able to find for me, the most beautiful voice filled the silent arena. Natalie Grant had come on stage and began to sing portions of her song, “Held.” I cried out, “Oh God!” and began to cry again uncontrollably as that song that has been part of the soundtrack for so many of our lives began to echo through the building. Only her beautiful voice, no music, singing “This is what it means to be held, how we feel when the sacred is torn from our lives, and we survive.”

I cannot even put into words the healing of my soul I felt at that moment. I felt that the part of me that had been lost in despair was back. I had my hope back. I know there will be days when despair sneaks back in. And I know, God help me, that there very well may come a time when one of my greatest treasures is in Heaven without me. But I will struggle to fight the despair that tries to sneak in and steal my joy.

Later, Natalie Grant came up and sang some songs and did the entire version of “Held.” She told about how the song was written by a friend of hers whose friends had lost their child at two months old. Then, after singing, “Held,” she sang a beautiful version, without music, of “It Is Well With My Soul.” She is an amazingly gifted and talented singer, but to hear her follow her song that has touched so many of our lives, with a treasured hymn that I have seen posted so many times on so many carepages following so many losses, was a treasure.

If you made it to the end of this long essay on my journey, then I thank you. I felt lead to post this here. I have found so many truths in so many other carepages and know that we all experience so many of the same emotions. But I couldn’t even find a name for what I was feeling. Despair. It is a lonely place to be, but when you put a name to it, you can fight it.

I still don’t understand. I don’t understand why my friends who fought so hard and loved so much, still lost their precious baby girl. I don’t understand why so many are even now going through this pain. But I have found again my trust in the One who does understand. And I hope all of you know (especially you, Steph) that I didn’t post this to minimize pain or grieving. Those are still there, they are still in me. But I choose to praise God in this storm. For all He has given me, and for knowing that in the end, we win.

God bless you all,