“Lord, let the joy of the Lord be on me.” That’s how I begin all my personal prayers in my prayer journal. It serves as a reminder to me that no matter what I am about to bring to God in my prayers that I will be joyful; whether it is a life event of excitement and opportunity, or a time of grief or despair, I will give thanks to God because He is good.
“Lord, let the joy of the Lord be on me.” That’s how I began my prayer on August 18, 2014. Then I continued, “I give thanks for my family, both present, and those who are yet to come.” I was alone at the lake on vacation. My wife was away at a conference in Ottawa, and in this time of prayer I felt that things were soon to change. Katie arrived back later that evening. I found out then that I was soon going to be a dad.
“Lord, let the joy of the Lord be on me.” That’s how I began my prayer the next day on August 19. Then I continued, “I commit this baby to you now, Lord. May your hand be upon him from this day forward. May he never wander from you, YHWH, but may he always serve you willingly & gladly. Keep evil from him – may he never be touched by the sins of my past, present, nor future. I pray that you protect this child; do not let him be harmed at the hands of another, Lord. May his name be a mighty one.”
“Lord, let the joy of the Lord be on me.” That’s how I began my prayer on September 9. Then I continued, “I’m praying for a miracle, but I submit to your will.” We had been experiencing complications with the baby for the past 9 days. On September 10 we would again go to the hospital and this time we were told that there was “virtually no hope” our baby would survive. Unfortunately the doctors were right, and we experienced a miscarriage later that day. We marked September 10 as his birthday, and we gave him the name Elijah John. Elijah means “Jehovah is God,” or, “YHWH is my God.” John means, “YHWH has been gracious.” That name is a mighty one. It proclaims God’s goodness in the midst of grief; it proclaims God’s grace in the midst of grief. Elijah John will never be harmed at the hands of another. Elijah John will never wander from the presence of YHWH, but will worship in His presence for eternity.
“Lord, let the joy of the Lord be on us.” That’s how mine & Katie’s prayers have begun in the two days since losing our first baby. We are grieving and heartbroken. We feel lost and empty. And, we feel joy. We are joyful that for even a short time we had the experience of pure joy at the thought of new life growing inside Katie. We are joyful that while we seek to minister to others now we fully understand just how painful this experience truly is. We are joyful for family, friends, and a faith community that surround us with prayers, love, and understanding. We are joyful that even while feeling empty, we feel the presence of God, His compassion, mercy, and grace. YHWH is my God, and YHWH has been gracious to us both.
Lord, let the joy of the Lord be on me. Amen.