God’s Faithfulness To A Widowed Mother

This video follows Emily Tiegreen, a now widowed mother, as she observes the faithfulness of God during a season of suffering multiple miscarriages (2015). Then years later suffering the loss of her husband to cancer (2021). What is the constant theme throughout? That God is faithful, and God’s faithfulness does not mean our lives on earth will culminate in what the world calls a “happy ending”. Rather through the loss of children and a spouse, there was no loss in the Lord Jesus being faithful through it all to Shepherd them. Do you too embrace the faithfulness of God in the midst of your suffering?

Preview: To trust the Lord through the hard times, knowing that He is sovereign and faithful and in control. I praise the Lord for His faithfulness in leading Him all the way home. Just having to trust the Lord that if He if it if He chooses to to take me, He’ll take care of them. And even though it’s been my role to shepherd them, that if He takes me, he’ll fulfill that.

Narration: The path for the godly woman to bloom in the spiritual realm is not an easy path. Rather, it is a path marked with trials and marked with God’s faithfulness in the midst of those trials. It is a path of believing God in the midst of situations that often seem impossible. As Hebrews 11:11 says by faith, Sarah herself received power to conceive even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Hear now from one of these women of God’s faithfulness starting in the area of having children.

Emily: Being a mother is one of the most sacred gifts God gives Yet it is all too common that His amazing plan is taken out of the story of motherhood. The creation of a child in the womb, the sustaining of a growing life throughout a pregnancy. The delivery of a breathing baby into this world all point to a God who is orchestrating it all Our journey into parenthood started about five and a half years ago when we found out we were expecting our first. Nine months later, we got to celebrate Owen Roger being born into this life. He came out opinionated and big headed and wonderful, and we enjoyed him for a year and a half before we found out that I was going to be expecting our second. Nine months later, we welcomed Emma Ruth into the world, and we were a happy family of 4, one boy, one girl. Immediately we felt the responsibility of raising our kids in the ways of the Lord and just the privilege and the gift that the Lord has given us as parents. We weaned Emma and a month later found out that we were expecting our third. I remember texting my close friends and my sisters and just saying, to announce that we were pregnant. I’m excited to see what the Lord has for the Tiegreens and baby number three. Looking back at that now, I can just really be reminded to trust the Lord sovereignty and control over all things. Because the next two years didn’t play out exactly how we would have planned or wanted. But we can see the Lord’s work through it all We were excited to announce it to our friends and family, and a couple of weeks later we were having our doubts with possible signs of a miscarriage, and we ended up losing our third. So after the loss of our third, it was just definitely more of a reality and a possibility that you could miscarry, I think, before you ever experienced complications in a in a pregnancy. You just don’t expect those things to happen. You expect everything to go normal and I guess that’s just what what we had expected. And it didn’t turn out that way. We were definitely tested in our faith, just quietly on whether we believed that God was in control of those things or not and what kind of purpose they were going to play out in our lives. I’d say it was a hard testing, but it was it was a good testing. So we were we were thankful for that trial to go through it as a family. It was the first real loss that we had experienced as a husband and a wife, and we grew through it. Lo and behold, a month later, which we didn’t even know was possible, we found out that we were pregnant again. With our fourth. But I went to the doctor and had an ultrasound done, and he said, Yeah, you’re you’re pregnant. I see a viable heartbeat. I know that you’ve miscarried this last time, but I think that we shouldn’t be worried or scared. So let’s just stay healthy and see see how the next couple of months go. Yet, in the back of my mind, there was the possibility and the reality that miscarriages aren’t that uncommon. So just immediately started asking my close friends to be praying for me. We were a little bit more hesitant to announce this pregnancy, but we still knew that we couldn’t keep it from our family and friends they’re our church family are our parents. We knew that they would be praying for us and encouraging us and checking up on us. So it wasn’t something that we wanted to keep from them. So I was sick with this pregnancy. Everything seemed to be going well with my prenatal appointment. And then at 12 weeks, we found out that we were going to be expecting another boy. So at 15 weeks I went back to just confirm that it was a boy and that everything was going well. And I had my ultrasound and there was no heartbeat. And when I looked at the screen, the baby wasn’t moving. And so the doctor just took a closer look and showed me a different scan of the baby. And you could see that there wasn’t blood flowing through the baby. Honestly, just another deep swallow and a deep. Lord, I trust you. I have no idea what the next step is with this baby that’s not alive in me anymore. But please help me. That night was one of the most memorable and hardest nights of our marriage to just give birth to that baby but not bring it into the world to get to celebrate its life, but to have to trust the Lord through mourning a second miscarriage. About six months later, we found out that we were pregnant with our fifth and we felt like we had given my body a couple of months to recover and that this was going to be just another journey of pregnancy, of trusting the Lord. I was sick. Signs seemed good. We got to the 12 week mark. I found out that it was another boy. We got to the 15 week mark. Still viable heartbeat. Everything looked good. I went into my 20 week appointment and the ultrasound technician could not find a heartbeat for this baby. This baby boy, our fifth, and that night and day felt like a nightmare. Just reliving it again and again, but still seeking to trust the Lord through the hard times, knowing that he is sovereign and faithful and in control. That night we went to the hospital and we experienced just another miscarriage, another birthing of a baby that we weren’t getting and get to enjoy and get to know and get to hold alive.

This isn’t a story of God’s faithfulness because it seems like it will finally culminate with the healthy birth and baby. It’s proof of his faithfulness because throughout this season of pregnancy and losses, he has proved over and over that he can be trusted. He proved it by providing us with the invaluable comfort of our local church. Each loss brought deeper pain, but each was matched with one of the world’s most effective medicines, the body of Christ. The hospital visits cards, meals, cleaning prayers, sermons and hugs. Were all displays of God’s kindness in letting us know that He doesn’t leave us to mourn alone. He ordains the trials of our lives so that our faith in him, as our good Father, can grow deeper, so that he can show how our sufferings are meant to teach us that we are dependent on him. I can say I am privileged to see more clearly how his sovereignty over our lives isn’t a faraway, impersonal governing of events, but an unfolding of an intricate, wise meaningful plan that will work together for his glory and our good as his children.

Joel: Oh, what’s happening. Contractions. Hey, guys, where are we going? To the hospital. Huh? Owen, and what’s going to happen? Judson! Well, Judson’s not born yet, is he? No. It’s only just begun. And it’s really happening tonight. Owen, who is this? Not long after Judson was born, one of the nurses noticed that he wasn’t breathing correctly. This eventually led to a diagnosis of respiratory distress, and he had to be transferred to the NICU Willow Creek for the next nine days. We and our church prayed earnestly that God would mercifully spare him. And he did. And we were so thankful to the Lord that he helped the nurses and the doctors to know what was best to treat our little buddy. We are so thankful to you all for your prayers and your hard work and supporting our family and helping us to take care of Judson. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. You will not let your foot be moved. He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper. The Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil. He will keep your life The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Narration: The trials that you just heard our sister go through. Was that the height of her suffering? Or did she encounter more difficult trials? And yet also again encounter God being faithful in the midst of those trials? Let’s fast forward six years and her family was serving and laboring in Turkey as missionaries. And then this happened. Hear from her husband, Joel.

Joel: So about eight months ago, my wife and four kids and I were in Turkey and we went on a little family vacation. And it was really a blessing and a time of refreshment. And we got to have a really wonderful time enjoying each other and seeing a part of the world we’d never seen before. And while we were on that trip, I carried my youngest son, Abraham, for many, many miles and my arms started to hurt really bad. And it’s when we got home from that trip that I went to, I decided to go to the doctor because my right arm was really bothering me. And there was a little bump there. And the Turkish doctor, We were living in Turkish in Turkey for the last five years, and the Turkish doctor said, “Oh, I don’t think it’s anything. You probably just pulled a muscle.” And I’d also been exercising quite a bit at the time and lifting weights and and I had noticed sometimes when I was doing Preacher curls. That I would get a sharp pain, like a shooting kind of nerve pain. Occasionally in my right arm, but I didn’t really think much about it. And so we waited a couple of months more or maybe a month and a half or so, and the spot in my arm kept getting bigger. And so we decided that I’d go back to the doctor, and this time the doctor was like, Wow, that should have gone away by now. We better do an MRI. And when they did the MRI, there, we found the startling news that it looked like a tumor and the tumor. He said he didn’t think it was cancerous, but that it could be. But it was pretty large. It had grown to 11 centimeters by five centimeters and it needed to be taken out because it was pinching my nerve and it was going to be a pretty serious surgery. Well, long story short, we did the surgery in Turkey. It was pretty rough. But Lord helped us through it. And we got the news back about a week and a half after when the whole tumor was tested, that about three quarters of the tumor was not cancerous, but the the end of the tumor was cancerous. And they said it was a pleomorphic sarcoma. And that was a shock to us. And so we came we decided to come home for further treatment in America. And when we got here, they retested the tumor and said, yeah, that was correct. It was pleomorphic sarcoma And apparently those are it’s it’s pretty nasty stuff. And and the doctor told me, he said, this is this is bad. Probably need to do another surgery and possibly take off your arm. And eventually they decided it was too late for all that and that they would just do radiation. And so they did 35 rounds of radiation and tested me three months after that. And there was no evidence of disease anywhere. And we were excited about that. And then fast forward three months more and I went in for another scan. So they scan every three months in the early stages. And the doctor said, well, there’s there’s no cancer in your arm, but your lungs are full of tumors. And he said, it’s it’s terminal. And so that was a shock for me and my wife. But apparently with sarcomas that happens very often And so that’s where we’re we’re at today. The diagnosis hasn’t changed. The doctor said it would be a miracle if I lived One doctor said I’d probably only live three more months from now. Another doctor said maybe five. And they’re trying a few experimental drugs, but they said they doubted any of it would work. So that’s where we’re at right at this moment. That’s what our family’s been going through. And I forgot to mention also, right when I got the diagnosis for my arm, our fifth child, James, was born in Turkey. And so but thankfully, through all of this, the Lord has preserved us. It’s it’s been hard. It hasn’t been easy at all. But by his grace, our faith hasn’t wavered. Our hope has remained firm in the world to come. And and one of the most difficult things, of course, is is thinking about my wife and my kids. And they’re such a precious gift and just having to trust the Lord that if he if he chooses to take me, he’ll take care of him. And that even though it’s been my role to shepherd them, that if he takes me, he’ll fulfill that.

Narration: And Joel Isaac Tiegreen did go to be with Christ in April of 2021 at 36 years of age. And his wife did and has found God to be faithful. Here’s a video she recorded sometime after his death reflecting on God’s goodness.

Emily: A little over a year ago, Joel and I sat in this very room. We were able to share with joy and laughter the story of how we met. It was a story that we knew only we could tell because it was our experience. We knew it was a story that only God could have made happen. We sat here knowing that Joel was terminally ill. He only had a few months to live, and with intentionality, we just recorded a video of a memory to have on record. And I’m so grateful that we have that look into today’s video. My desire is to just get a faithful record of what happened in his last days. I think about some of the prayers that we prayed with our church in this room. Prayers for healing, of course. But also prayers that God would be able to make what seems unbearable, bearable. Another prayer that we prayed was that we would be able to be together in our last days when Joel died, that he wouldn’t have to die alone. Well, in that prayer was answered. It was my privilege to be by his side. God gave me that gift. So in a way, I feel like it’s my responsibility to share and give a faithful account. I also know how prone I am to forget. You see back in Scripture the splitting of the Red Sea and the miracle that that that was. And so if the Israelites can forget that, I just feel like if I can share God’s kindness and his uniqueness to our situation, then maybe it can shed light and help my children in the future to wrestle through this story of what I would say is a beautiful picture of God’s righteousness and kindness. Psalm 45:17 says the Lord is righteous and all of His ways and his kind and all of his works. Definitely the word all sticks out to me, and I can see it. I can see it clearly in all of the ways that he loved us, specifically in giving us what we needed for this journey to be bearable in the recent interaction that I had with one of my children, though my eyes were opened, I realized that I was trying to push on my kids. This idea of God always being kind. And right now in life, that’s so hard for them to see. Partly because I believe that they haven’t seen the righteousness and the kindness that God perfectly displayed on the cross through Jesus Christ. If you can wrestle with the cross, if you can go to the cross, be offended by it and see your need of the cross, then you can see the righteousness and kindness more clearly in your everyday life. And so that’s my prayer with this video. That’s my prayer for my kids. That in the future they will be able to look back at my husband’s last days. They’ll be able to look back at their father’s last days and be able to say confidently. The Lord is righteous in all of his ways and kind and all of his works.

The last day was surprisingly peaceful. We actually fell asleep that night. We were woken up to the doctor coming in and saying that he had been in there a few hours before, but had seen us holding hands and asleep. And it was such a beautiful picture that he wasn’t going to wake us up to check on Joel. one more elder was scheduled to come that day, and I hadn’t known if Joel was going to make it through the night. So I went ahead to message to him and I said, You know, I don’t know how coherent he’ll be, but your visit would be a blessing still. So a few hours later, this elder showed up. And when I told Joel, who was Joel immediately tried. Tried in his weakness to sit up. And I knew at that moment that he could hear us and that any kind of encouragement we could give him would be helpful. So I sat there with that elder and we just tried to pour into Joel as much as we could in those moments of last coherency. The elder was telling him, We’re going to take care of your family. You don’t need to worry about them. Finish strong you’re so close. I remember how Joel had wanted so badly to be at this conference, this Creeds and Confessions Conference, that this elder beside him was hosting a few days later. Just a flashback. Joel had asked me, Emily, do you think we can make it? You think we can make it to this place and be a part of this conference? And I would just say, yeah, let’s see how you’re doing. And he just loved to be in those in those services of learning and brotherhood. And so it was funny to me, or it made me smile as I was telling him Joel, when you get there, you’re going to know the creeds and the confessions better than all of these men that are trying to figure them out and stand strong on them. And so it was just a sweet memory of us pouring into him as much as we could at the end when we felt like we had said all we could say that Elder got up to leave, and Joel feebly reached his arm and tried to pick up his phone. And I wasn’t really understanding what he wanted. But finally we figured out that he was wanting me to take a picture of him in this brother. And so I reached up my phone and I snapped that picture and then getting ready to say goodbye. But then he reached his hand up again, and we figured out that he wanted to get one last picture with me too. And so that was the last interaction that I had with Joel as the elder was getting ready to tell Joel by just in one last push and a stretch of his strength, he tried to stand up and I just remember we were pretty much trying to, like, wrestle him back down to the bed and the elder saying, no, no, Joel, don’t worry. I know you love me. Like, stay. You don’t have to get up and it was just such a beautiful sign of that last push to to let a brother know, like, thank you. Throughout that day, I got to just see Joel relax and be comforted more. They were able to finally get him to lean back in his hospital hospice bed and for some reason seen him get to lean back and get that relief was relieving to me. I think that we had just pictured him as a family for the past months, like trying to hold his body up because his brain wouldn’t let him lean back even though his lungs and his body felt like they should. And so just getting to see that little bit of relief, little by little, him leaning back more and more was just a picture of what I wanted for my husband. I wanted him to not have that struggle of trying to hold himself up anymore. And so over the course of the day, the doctor would come in and just wisely ask me, what do you see happening? How does he look to you? Kind of in a way to prepare myself and just make sure that I was saying out loud what was about to happen. And he would say, Yeah, you’re right. He’s getting close. It could be tonight, but we’re not sure. And so I just obviously started preparing myself for what could be our last final night or last final hours. I didn’t really know. We had the lights kind of dim in the room. And so I sent one last message on my phone to the elder’s wife that had just visited saying thank you for sharing your husband. That was a huge blessing. Would you would you please pray for me? I think this is this is it. I opened my Bible and I positioned myself in a way that I could still look at him and see his chest at that moment. He was just taking deeper and deeper breaths in and out, and they were becoming further and further apart. So I had my Bible open. We were hand in hand. And I started reading from the Book of Revelation. And within minutes of that, I noticed a difference in his breathing. And so I just kept my Bible in a way that I could keep reading. And I was watching his chest. And then finally his chest didn’t come back up. I honestly didn’t know what to do at that point, besides just keep reading. So I kept reading just a few more verses. And then a nurse came in. She had no idea what had just happened, but she just quietly walked over and said, I’m just coming to check on him. And I said, He’s gone. And she came, just checked, no words. And then just said, I’ll give you some time. So I sat there in those moments realizing that that was the last time God had given me the chance to read my husband to sleep. I realized that those were the last prayers I would ever get to pray for my husband and I praise the Lord for his faithfulness in leading him all the way home.

Recap: To trust the Lord through the hard times, knowing that He is sovereign and faithful and in control. I praise the Lord for His faithfulness in leading Him all the way home. Just having to trust the Lord that if He if it if He chooses to to take me, He’ll take care of them. And even though it’s been my role to shepherd them, that if He takes me, he’ll fulfill that.

0:00 – Introduction
1:16 – God’s faithfulness during miscarriages.
13:16 – God’s faithfulness in the midst of Joel finding out he has cancer.
19:04 – God’s faithfulness to Emily after the loss of her husband.