Best of 2022! Navigating the Worst of Times: David and Meg Robbins
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When it’s the worst of times, what’s it take to keep going? Dave and Ann Wilson bring David & Meg Robbins on air where they go over the best answers we received in 2022.
Best of 2022! Navigating the Worst of Times: David and Meg Robbins
Erik: I had a really powerful conversation with my daughter, my youngest, Kyra—six years old at the time—she was crying; she was thinking about her brother. She said, “I miss Caleb.” And she said, “Dad, why did God do it this way?” I said, “One day, when Jesus returns, He’s going to make all things new; and your brother’s going to be restored.”
And she goes, “Dad, I know all of that. But I know one day God’s going to make it where none of these things happen again. Why didn’t He make it where it couldn’t happen to begin with?” It was in that moment that it hit me; I was like, “This is a profound question.”
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on the FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.
Dave: Well, we are back to talk about “The Best of FamilyLife Today.”
Ann: I know; that's kind of fun, isn't it?
Dave: Yes, we’ve got David and Meg Robbins back in with us, as well, the president of FamilyLife.
David: Hey team, it's good to be here.
Dave: It’s an honor to have you guys in here, and I know you—
Meg: It’s always fun to be in here.
Dave: —you don't just lead this ministry; you actually listen to FamilyLife Today.
David: We do; most often, we listen to FamilyLife Today. Where do you listen?
Meg: I usually listen while I'm working out.
David: I got a 21-minute commute, and I'm able to listen to all of it, almost; sit in the parking lot for the ending.
Dave: That’s good.
Ann: Well, today's going to be fun; because we're going to talk about trusting God in hard things. We've had some people this past year that have had some incredible stories and testimonies of how God has been working in the midst of that.
One of those was Laura Story. If you don't know who she is, she's a Grammy Award winner. She's won Billboard Music Awards, Dove Awards, and she's really a great worship leader at heart.
Dave: She is, yes.
Ann: Her story really begins as a young married wife; married to Martin. He's diagnosed with a brain tumor, and it's exactly the opposite of what they thought their dreams of their marriage would be. He ended up having surgery and he had a lot of side effects from that surgery. Laura basically has been on the road. She's traveling; she's doing concerts because Martin can no longer hold the same job that he had before. But as she's talking about this whole story, she's realizing, in this clip, how Martin and his disability has impacted their children in a positive way.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Laura: Our greatest fear, having kids, was how Martin’s disability would negatively affect our children; okay?—that was Martin’s greatest fear. I knew God would take care of it; but I think, when I’m really being honest, that was a big fear of mine as well.
And what we’re seeing and learning is, yes, things look different for our kids. Yes, there are limitations that we can’t—or we’re not going to sugarcoat—but Martin’s disability has been one of the clearest ways we have seen God work in our family; it’s been one of the clearest ways we’ve seen God work in the lives of our children.
I was picking up Josie from preschool; this was a few years ago. I take my kids on the road with me; so we’ll be on the road until late at night or early in the morning, however you want to see it. [Laughter] We had had one of those, where I brought Josie to preschool on probably five hours of sleep! You know, terrible mom!—I get it. But I was picking her up; and the teacher said, “Hey, can I speak to you a second?”
Dave: Oh, boy.
Ann: Oh, no!
Laura: I was like, “No, no!” She pulled me aside, and she said, “I want to brag on Josie for a second.” I’m thinking, “Okay, this is not at all what I was expecting here.” [Laughter] And she tells me about a boy, who has joined their class, who had some pretty severe learning disabilities; and how Josie had been so attuned to making sure he was getting in the line when he needed to, make sure he was keeping up with everything.
The question she asked me/the question she asked me/she said, “So what have you done, as a mom, to teach Josie to be so compassionate towards people with disabilities?” [Choking up] I wanted to laugh! That week, I had just had such a tough week. I think I had been driving around so much, and I’d been working so hard. Sometimes, it’s like, “God, I know You’re working it all together for good somehow! [Laughter] I’m just not seeing it!”
She asked me this, and I had an opportunity to say to her, “I don’t know if you know, but my husband has a brain injury and pretty severe learning disability, and that is what God has used to develop that character, that endurance, and that hope in our children; because He promises He’s not going to waste our suffering. He’s going to use it.”
David: Last night, we had our oldest son, who has cystic fibrosis—which is a genetic disease that he's lived with his whole life—and he was asked by the school to write something for the school newspaper about living with cystic fibrosis. He was very honest in the article that he wrote about some days he hates it; and some days, he really, really wishes that God would take it away. But then he started recounting, paragraph after paragraph, of the ways that—the perfect time that he was born because of his gene type; and the place he lived when we lived in Atlanta; and then, we moved—and he's like recounting God's sovereignty; and he's being formed, as a kid, through his hardships and through his sufferings.
[Emotion in voice] He said, kind of in the main line, something very similar to what Laura said of: “God has made a path for me.” Meg and I just both put it down, and go, “We used to read him that book”—the book about Moses in Exodus, a little cardboard book—and we’d just pray over him, “God, make a path for Ford.” He keeps making a way for us; and we look back on it, and we go “God, You do weave it together for good.”
Meg: Yes; I think sometimes, when we're in the moment/in the middle of hard things, it's hard to really grasp and truly believe that God has goodness in it. There have definitely been plenty of times in our journey when I have wrestled with: “What does goodness mean?” But then, you have these moments, like for us—for sure, last night—just hearing Ford recount God's faithfulness through his chronic illness.
You know, in listening to Laura tell her story of her kids learning something they absolutely would not learn if it wasn't for the story that they're walking through, we don't always get to see the fruit of what God's doing in the middle of it—but just leaning into the story that He's writing—and trusting that the hard things are bearing fruit in our own lives/in our kids’ lives. If I'm truly honest, it is hard, a lot of days, to rest in that; but I'm so thankful that God does love us, and He is that good.
Ann: I call it seeing the miraculous in the mundane because most days are so mundane. Especially, if you're walking through a difficult time, it's hard to see and hear God clearly; and yet, He'll give us, just like with you guys with Ford, He'll give us this glimpse of Him, saying, “I'm here; I'm using it. Don't be discouraged.” I think that's so beautiful that God will do that for us, especially when we feel discouraged, and feel like, “Uh, is this all going to have a negative effect on our kids or our family?”
David: Yes, when I think about FamilyLife Today, going out to millions every day, that's a great way to say it, Ann: we love meeting you in the mundane because, a lot of times, when you're listening to FamilyLife Today—whether it's your commute/whether you're doing chores—there can be the grind and the mundane; and yet, we want to bring Jesus and fill the ordinary so that you can lift your eyes to the extraordinary life that is found in Him.
If you were encouraged by FamilyLife Today, I just want to invite you to join us in this season. We've had a few very generous Partners come together and create a matching gift; that if you were to give, now to the end of the year, it will be matched, dollar for dollar. Its impact will reach double the amount of homes. I just want/I'm grateful for you considering that.
Dave: Yes; I tell you: whenever we talk about trusting God in hard times—and we do a lot, actually, because we go through a lot of hard times—and so people come in [to share their story]. Every time we hear a story, it's like, “I need to hear that,” because I think it's the hardest part of the Christian life, like, “God, where are You?” “Why…” “When?” And you know, Laura Story was one.
We got to sit down—and I tell you: I was surprised where this went with Bethany Beal and Kristen Clark, who a lot of people know them from Girl Defined—I got to be honest, when I looked at their book and looked at their ministry—they are huge on social media—I sort of had this perspective: “Their life is sort of perfect. They are very sharp sisters, and they're going to tell their great story.” They come in here and talk about hard times/dark times they've walked through. It was helpful to realize, even a life that looks perfect, is just like everybody else: “They’ve got hard times.”
At the same time, Eric Schumacher came in; and he's written a book for husbands who have to walk through miscarriages. Both these stories have a similar theme, and I think you're going to be encouraged by what they have to say.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Kristen: In my mind, the good life was to have children—just have biological children—to start a family with my husband. That was my dream—that the Bible calls children a blessing—so I'm thinking, “God, I'm praying a biblical prayer here. Why aren't You answering?” and “Then, when you give me this desire, I get pregnant; then you just take it away.”
It really tested my identity, like: “What do I believe about God?”—and I think that's the biggest question—is our identity starts with what we believe about God/who we believe God truly is—because when the fires come, when the valleys come, when the trials—the unfulfilled longings/the prayers that seem like they're unanswered; and we're praying them year and year on end, and nothing is changing—really, it puts to the test: “What do we actually believe about God?”
I know, for me, after my third miscarriage, which I thought for sure that one was going to stick—the pregnancy was so healthy—saw the heartbeat at 8 weeks. My doctor was saying “Wow, everything looks great.” Hormones/everything was on track; and so, for the first time in my entire marriage—it was eight years at this point; had those two early miscarriages—I started to hope. I started to think, “This is the one that's going to stick.” I was still a little hesitant to fully go there. I didn't want to think about names, because I was too scared. I didn't want to think about baby showers. I’m just like taking it one day at a time, but I started to hope.
And so, when I opened up my heart to hope again, and then at 11 weeks, I went into my doctor’s appointment—and she said, “I'm so sorry; there's no longer a heartbeat,”—that news hit me like a gut punch to my chest like nothing ever had. I went home—and I remember my identity was shaken—because what I started doing is questioning everything I knew about God. It didn't/it wasn't so much about me; but: “God, who are You? Why would You allow this to happen? You say You're good in Scripture, but there's nothing good about this. You say you're kind; this is cruel.”
And what I was doing was filtering God's character through the lens of my circumstances rather than filtering my circumstances through the lens of God's character.
Dave: And before we respond to Bethany and Kristen, we had Eric Schumacher come in. Here's a husband's perspective to miscarriage as well.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Eric: There's a lot of compassion shown towards the mother, but people don't know what to do with dad.
Ann: Could you just address the men, who have walked through this—thinking back to you going through this the first time and what you've learned; you’ve gone through it several times—"What would be helpful for them to know?”
Eric: I think the first thing I would want to say is: “You are a father who has lost a child. It is good and right for you to mourn and to grieve that loss, because it is a very real loss of a child.” They should never feel embarrassed or ashamed to speak of this baby as their child.
The second thing I would say is: “Jesus sees you right where you are. He knew your baby; He knows your loss; and He knows what it is like to be put in shameful situations. He knows what it is like to lose someone, who is very precious to Him. He stands outside of Lazarus's tomb in [the book of] John, and He weeps. He knows what it is like to be angry at death. He knows all these emotions that you're feeling.”
The author of Hebrews says: “He had to be made like His brothers and sisters in every respect so that He might be a merciful high priest.” It's not just that He had to be made human so that He could die as our substitute—you know, dying for our sin—it's also/the author goes on to say that He can sympathize with our weaknesses and our temptations because He has been in situations that are fundamentally the same. Of course, He didn't have a child miscarry—but He knew losses—He knows what it is like. So, from experience, Jesus knows what we need in these moments. He is a trusted friend that we can and should go to with great expectations of comfort and help.
David: As I hear these, back to back, there's a flood of memories that come in for me; because we've had two miscarriages. One was our first child; and then, the other miscarriage was after we had had three kids. We thought, “Okay; maybe we had this miscarriage, and we're done.” But then, God gave us Mac, which is our little mascot.
The grief of those two were very different seasons of life—hit in different ways—but yet, you had to enter into the grief. I remember, on the first one, it took me by surprise. And I'm/that's why I'm grateful for Eric's work on this; because I had to learn how to, not just get in touch with my own grief, but attune to yours [Meg]. I think it was one of the times that God fast forwarded some learning for me in: “What does it look like to grieve together and really have empathy with your spouse, while you're also identifying what's going on underneath the surface in your own life?”
Meg: Yes; it just kind of throws me back into some of those emotions that you are so unprepared for. I think I was really unprepared for how hard a miscarriage would be and just the real sense of loss. I think I had—before, I had had sisters go through that and had kind of seen it as a disappointment—which, I mean, how insensitive of me; but until I went through it myself, I just didn't realize how much of a loss it was. It was a child.
I think we did have some people in our life that freed us up to grieve that way. But I think, as I was wrestling with it, and just walking through the grief, I definitely got to places where the Lord had to kind of reach out His hand and say: “Do you trust Me?”—and do I trust Him to bring Him everything I was feeling?—and that He could handle my emotions, and even my questions, no matter what it was.
As I was wrestling with really similar things to what Kristen said—you know, I think it was just trying to wrap my mind around—“How is God's goodness/how is He good if He is letting us lose a child whom we were excited about and had prayed for?” But I love that reminder that she said that we can't look at who God is through our circumstances, but we have to look at our circumstances through who God is and that He is unchanging.
It really reminds me of a story we heard about a teenager, who passed away from cancer; and later, his parents found his journal. And in it he had written: “The moon is always round,” and had kind of unpacked that to mean that, no matter what the moon looks like, it's always round. Sometimes, we see this little, tiny sliver of it; sometimes it's a half moon; sometimes it's not visible at all, and it's a new moon; and sometimes, it's full, and bright, and beautiful; but the actual moon, itself, is unchanging.
God is the exact same way to us: is that, sometimes, we experience, or see, or feel different things about who He is and His character; but He is unchanging, and He is faithful. I think, sometimes, I do tend to quickly depend on my feelings. I have to remember that my feelings are not very reliable; but God is, and He's unchanging.
Dave: Probably the hardest truth to grasp in the Christian life, I think—I mean, there's so many—but to believe He's good. He's unchanging when my circumstances seem to say the opposite—that's faith—you’ve got to say, “Okay, I'm going to trust Him. He's good, even in this evil, dark valley that we're walking through.”
I'll never forget, we had Erik Reed come in. He's a pastor in Lebanon, Tennessee, of the Journey Church. He has walked through—he and his family—a horrific story of a botched surgery, ended up leading to the death of his son. Man, to watch him wrestle through that journey. We're going to play a clip, where he was telling us a story about talking to his daughter about the loss of her brother and where God is in that.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Erik: I had a really powerful conversation with my daughter, my youngest, Kyra—six years old at the time—we were riding down the road together. She was crying; she was thinking about her brother. She said, “I miss Caleb.” And she said, “Dad, why did God do it this way?” I gave her the really easy, good answer; I said, “One day, when Jesus returns, He's going to make all things new; and your brother's going to be restored, and sin will be no more, and death will be no more.”
I’m thinking she's going to be like, “Oh, okay; I get that, Dad.” And she goes, “No, but if God's going to do it that way one day, why didn't He just start it that way?” I said, “It did start”—again, I'm trying to give her some basic—I’m like, “You know, it did start that way; but then we sinned and rebelled.”
She's like, “No, no, Dad, I know all that. But I know one day God's going to make it where none of these things happen again. Why didn't He make it where it couldn't happen to begin with?” It was in that moment that it hit me; I was like, “This is a profound question,”
Dave: I was going to say that's not a six-year-old/that's a sixty-year-old question as well.
Erik: —which told me her little mind is trying to grapple with understanding, like: “How do I understand God in this world, where my brother's gone?” and “God could have done something different.”
I said, “Sweetheart, that is a question that philosophers and theologians have written major books about. But let me give you the best answer I can think of.” I said, “There's something about this kind of world—where we experience love, and then loss; and hurts, and pains, and sadness; and have to anticipate future days, where those things are—there's something about this kind of world, where God fixes it at the end/makes it new at the end, that gives Him more glory and us more joy and more understanding of who He is, than a world that would not have had those experiences. And that's the only answer I know to tell you.”
Ann: How did she respond?
Erik: She said, “I just want that day to come.”
Ann: Don't we all.
Erik: And I said, “Yes, baby, that's why the Bible ends with: ‘Come, Lord Jesus, come!
Ann: Yes. [Laughter]
Erik: We live like that. Here's what it's really done: as a family, we've gone from saying [to a question], “How many?” at the restaurant—you know, “Five,” to “Four,”—and every time we say it, it stings.
Yet, we long for the day where that loss is not a reality anymore, where all things are made new. We long for heaven. Life with him there and us here makes us long for life there. I think that's one of the things that's suffering, and pain, and loss do in this world is that God actually loosens our grip on this world. The more people we lose, [whom] we love to the next world, the more we long for that world and lessen our grip on this one. I think that's right.
Dave: I tell you: there's nothing I love doing more than giving hope to people. Even as I listen to Erik again, and listen to him help me—let alone millions of others—with trusting God through hard times, I am so thankful to be able to give this message to people that change families/that change legacies.
If this has helped you, I'm asking you to help us help you and others. I know you want this message to get to other people, beyond your own family, and even in your family. I know you know this—but let me remind you—we are a financially-supported ministry. We thrive when people, like you, say, “I want to partner with you.”
And so, man, if you want to help others, like you get hope like this, give to FamilyLife. You can give to FamilyLife, right now; and it actually is doubled, because we have Partners, who say, “I believe in this so much I want to match any donation given.” We invite you to join us. Help other couples like yourself find life and hope through this program.
Shelby: Finding life and hope—such a beautiful choice of words, especially as we think about this Christmas season—life and hope. And thanks to some generous Ministry Partners, our matching gift to help provide life and hope—that fund is even bigger now—so every gift, through the end of this year, including your gift right now, will be matched, dollar for dollar, until we hit $2.3 million.
When you do give, too, as our thanks, we want to send you four copies of Bob Lepine's book called The Four Emotions of Christmas. Why four copies? Well, one to keep for yourself and three to give away to friends, family, neighbors—or even, give all four away—that's up to you. In addition to that, we're going to send you six greeting cards that have been hand-selected by David and Meg Robbins. These cards make a great tool to be able to share with the loved ones in your life. Again, you can give at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329; that's 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
[Tomorrow, on FamilyLife Today, Dave and Ann are back in the studio once again with David and Meg Robbins. They’ll be listening back and reflecting over clips from the last year that show us that, through everything, picking Jesus above everything is the answer to a good, good life.]
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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