He Hides the Brightness of His Face (but I Will Never Give Up My Shield)

True to the nature of Small Elephant, I’ve been making a lot of self-deprecating jokes about the manic (and starving) version of myself since learning I am pregnant with my 4th child.

(especially on my facebook page – if you haven’t joined us there yet, you should! We have so much fun! At least I do…)

In the near future, I’ll be writing up some longer posts about my 1st trimester hilarity, and I look forward to gathering up all those stories into one place so I can reflect on (and laugh about) what a tumultuous and humorous 3 months this has been…

but, if I’m being honest, it hasn’t been all laughter, and, while Mr. Gore and I joke often about how I am a caricature of a real person, the struggles I have faced, especially in this past month, have been very real, very gritty, and very indicative of my fallen and weak human nature.

Aside from that unexpected scare we experienced a couple of weeks ago (that turned out to be nothing a’tall, thank God!), the past six weeks have been rough as I have fought nearly constant nausea and fatigue while trying to run a household and a homeschool, and on a much deeper level, have tried to maintain a biblical Christian attitude while operating under a very dark cloud of self-loathing (I don’t love myself very much when I am not properly cleaned and groomed), irritability, and hormonal upheaval.

As I have grown in my faith over the past decade, my deepest struggles while pregnant have changed from physical discomfort and vanity issues to heavy spiritual battles as I wage war on this intensified version of my already sinful self.

It is…exhausting.

Because what I understand more and more is this: no matter how badly I feel, and no matter how great the temptation is to be snippy with my husband or short-tempered with my kids, I must strive to glorify God by obeying His Word and, by His grace, seek to overcome my lazy and selfish and sinful desires. It doesn’t matter if they are brought on by pregnant hormonal fluctuations; they still must be done away with and surrendered to Christ!

And so my nights of late have been filled with tearful prayers for the grace of God to cover me, and to make this road easier. I plead that He will allow my feet to hurt and my back to ache worse than ever if He will only keep my love and compassion shining brightly in my heart. I cry out for the ability to be anything but self-absorbed and to be so focused on taking care of others that I won’t even notice my own discomfort…

But sometimes we are simply called to walk through valleys and to experience dark days, and sanctification can be a brutal process.

And over the course of the month, after being away from my church body and the preaching of the Word (due to the kids or myself being sick), and after too many successive days of failure and solitary confinement, I began to drown in that darkness as I listened to the lies of my heart.

It all culminated one night as Mr. Gore and I were readying for bed. I had been focusing on how little I had been able to accomplish, and how meager my contributions, even to my tiny little family, had been, and I began to cry. “Do you ever feel like the most selfish person in the world?” I asked my husband.

He tried to comfort me, but I was on a roll, and I finally confessed what had been sitting heavy on my heart all day: “I just think that, if I were never to show up at church again, no one would suffer for the loss. I know people would miss me, but…my not being there wouldn’t really change anything.”

I realize now what a lie that was, but, in my sad introspective state, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I felt far from God, far from my loved ones, and, as hippy-dippy as this sounds, far from myself. “I don’t even know who I am anymore!” I cried one night.

And I share all of the above for this one reason…

God is faithful.

And even when you are groping about, and you lose sight of your purpose and you lose your joy and you are just trying to survive moment by moment, there will come a day when…

you will feel better. You will join once more with your church family, and your hugs will be so heartfelt, and you will tear up as you hear how much you were missed and how many people were praying for you. Your heart will nearly burst as you hear the Word taught and preached, because you will remember that, yes! This is all true, and I have an identity in this remnant, and this is my life! You will rejoice in the God who made you and who sustains you and who never gives you more than you can bear. And somehow, someway, you will find yourself feeling grateful, even for the darkness you just walked through, because you will never forget that God was there and He did not allow your foot to slip. And you will sing, like you’ve never sang before…

After a soul-stirring sermon that just ripped me apart and made my spirit leap, our beloved brother, Ben, led us in a song that, for me, could not have been more meaningful or more timely:

Away my unbelieving fear,

Fear shall in me no more take place,

My Savior doth not yet appear,

He hides the brightness of his face.

But shall I therefore let him go,

And basely to the tempter yield?

No, in the strength of Jesus, no

I never will give up my shield.

~

Although the vine its fruit deny,

Although, the olive yield no oil,

The withering fig-tree droop and die,

The field elude the tiller’s toil,

The empty stall no herd afford,

And perish all the bleating race,

Yet will I triumph in the Lord,

The God of my salvation praise.

~

Barren although my soul remain

And not one bud of grace appear,

No fruit of all my toil and pain,

But sin and only sin is here.

Although my gifts and comforts lost,

My blooming hopes cut off I see,

Yet will I in my Savior trust,

And glory that he died for me.

~

In hope believing, against hope,

Jesus my Lord, my God I claim,

Jesus my strength shall lift me up,

Salvation is in Jesus’ name,

To me he soon shall bring it nigh,

My soul shall soon out-strip the wind,

On wings of love mount up on high,

And leave the world and sin behind.

(lyrics by Charles Wesley)

~

Oh, friends. As I sat in my pew with my cheek resting on Rebekah’s golden hair, my voice, my heart, and my tears joined together to offer these words to God, and my soul was once more at rest.

I am not yet brave enough to ask for discomfort or suffering, but, after today, I am convinced of this…

the Light is one hundred times more beautiful after you’ve walked for a spell in the dark.

8 thoughts on “He Hides the Brightness of His Face (but I Will Never Give Up My Shield)

  1. Your post reminds me of this quote I read a few years ago…

    “Those of us who are going through trial that seems overwhelming need to realize that, and He can enable us to say, “Lord, if this is for Thy glory, heap on the load! If this is to accomplish something that will make me more usable for Thee, then pile on the burden! If this is something Thy hand seeks to do in order to make me like Thy lovely self, then, Lord, I will take everything because, even though I am crushed under it, I am going to trust Thee for strength every day. My weakness shall glorify Thy power.” –Alan Redpath

    Like you, I’m not quite ready to say, “pile on the burden” or “heap on the load”… I’m afraid of what might happen if I tell God that I’m ready for Him to do absolutely anything to make me more like Him. I want His power to shine… but not because I’m weak. I want to be strong too. But we can trust our present and our future to an Almighty God who loves us more than we can imagine and never lets anything touch us unless He approves it.

    A few months ago my pastor was preaching on Joseph and he said that because pain is God filtered, you can be certain it is purpose filled. I’m praying for you today! Keep loving, seeking, and serving the Lord! And keep writing!

  2. Today your post made something click in my head for the first time. I never thought about asking for the grace of God to cover me on a daily practical level. To protect my family from the damage my mistakes can cause as well as protecting me from making those mistakes. I guess I always thought of his grace as being there for the “big” stuff like salvation and major desicions and conflict. It is overwhelmingly encouraging to think of his bestowing his grace on me daily in every situation of my life and my desperate need for it as well as the hope this new knowlege provides. Thank you for sharing your life with us and for allowing God to use you! Your posts always make me smile and cry at the same time and are a highlight in my day. THANK YOU!!

  3. Oh, the comfort of shared experience! I have known the tears and frustration (lightly put) of lost joy, exhaustion, and emotional disarray in pregnancy. We had our 7th amazing little blessing in May, and while I love and welcome our growing family, pregnancy for me is nothing short of awful! I snap at those I love, cry daily (hourly), fall asleep giving spelling tests, am nauseous for 8 full months, and lose all motivation to clean, cook, or do much more than breathe.
    I fully see the effect this has on my family, and have also turned facedown to God more and more in my pregnancies seeking His guidance and power to overcome myself!
    It becomes increasingly important with more & older children to be that Biblical example, but on an encouraging note, the grace and kindness I see in my children in these times is overwhelming. They are always excited and joyful when we discover we are expecting, my oldest daughter has gently taken the book from my hand to continue the lesson for the little ones, and they clamour to take care of me when they see me slowing. I have been shown that even when I believe I am failing, I am still teaching, and in my weakness, if I continually turn to Him, the lessons they learn are still His.
    Thank you so much for sharing so openly and honestly! Facing the lies of the enemy about being alone and overwhelmed is so much easier with friends, even if they are far away and you have never actually met!

  4. Dear Sweet Mrs. Gore! Thank you, a thousand times THANK YOU!!!! Where you wrote “Because what I understand more and more is this: no matter how badly I feel, and no matter how great the temptation is to be snippy with my husband or short-tempered with my kids, I must strive to glorify God by obeying His Word and, by His grace, seek to overcome my lazy and selfish and sinful desires. It doesn’t matter if they are brought on by pregnant hormonal fluctuations; they still must be done away with and surrendered to Christ!” I completely resonate! Not just during my pregnancies, but everyday of my life. I am a very emotional (sometimes described hormonal) person. I have grown leaps and bounds in the past 7 years of marriage and mommy-hood, but still walk it out day by day. I want to be complete surrendered to HIM and HIS will in and for my life, as He bought it at such a high price. I came to a point of LOATHING my emotions because I was taught they were bad. I have since learned and come to understand that God made me this way but I am responsible for my actions and how I desplay my emotions. Thank you for the reminder. Blessings and restoration to your body and mind and spirit. Praying for a safe, healthy, uneventful remainder of your pregancy.

  5. I am going to email this post to Val so he can tuck it away for the day that I feel just as you have if/when we have more babies…I totally sink into those dark places during pregnancy and especially those first few months after a baby is born and this will be an excellent reminder that all is not lost!

  6. Thank you, Mrs. Gore! Though I am far from hormonal changes due to child bearing (will soon be 71!), this blog entry spoke to my heart. Have been away from church for several weeks now (flu, husband’s back surgery, new grand baby) and I can so relate to you feelings. After reading your entry for today, I cannot wait to get back to church to experience the joys you so aptly described. Again, thank you!

  7. I love you l love you Lesley Gore I could read your blog for hours and I have before this is just the first time iv replyed its just so hard to comment on anything when I love everything you write I love your heart and I love your family(Gore/Jackson)soo…

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