My name is Myra Johnson. I am married to Rob Johnson, and we are missionaries in Botswana. You can find more about our ministry at our ministry website.
I married my husband at the age of 42. When he came courting, I was surprised. I thought I was destined to be single for the rest of my life. When I was a child, my life goal was to marry a preacher and have 6-12 children. Pretty specific, huh? That dream seemed destined to a dusty attic. I was 41 years old, no hint that God was going to give me a husband (so no children), and I had to learn to accept that God’s ways are best. It was sometimes a struggle, but I was content. Then Rob came courting, and the dream came alive. Okay, I knew that marrying at 42 probably nixed the dream of a dozen kids, but God could still give us a few before I was too old.
Imagine my delight and joy when I learned I was expecting. But then I miscarried at 8 weeks. I was devastated. I was soon pregnant again, but miscarried again, and again, and again… I miscarried 6 times while we were on deputation and preparing to come to Botswana. In the middle of this, I was struggling with health issues that had been slowly creeping up on me. With each miscarriage, they increased dramatically, until there were weeks that I was nearly bedridden. At one point I was praying God would give Rob another wife if He took me, because I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to Botswana.
My health has slowly improved, but never returned to what it was. I still struggle with pain, brain fog, and crushing fatigue, and sometimes a tendency to depression (thanks to the chronic Lyme Disease). I do not know if God will ever give me good health again. As I turned 46, I came to grips with the realization that I would probably not be having children. I have 6, all in Heaven. One day I will see them, but I will never hold them here. I will never watch their Dad read God’s Word to them and pray with them. We will never lead them to Christ, kiss their cheeks, tickle them, laugh with them, or feel their little arms around our necks. I will never see the “firsts” that parents rejoice in and cry over. I will never be a grandmother. It’s not only the loss of their lives, but the loss of what might have been that we mourn.
Through all of this, God has been faithful. I have not, but God has. I have accepted His will, and railed at Him. I have sung songs of praise, and wept bitter tears. I have failed, and I have found victory. The illness and infertility are not gone, but I feel like I may be climbing out of the valley of sorrow and grief. I still have many, many days when the praise I offer is a sacrifice. I do not feel like praising, I choose to praise because He is worthy.
And in this sacrifice of praise I have found a sweet truth. Often when I begin to praise because I must, not because I feel like it, I feel the faint stirring of joy in my heart. I often feel the grief lift a bit. I sometimes feel a tiny surge of energy. Not always, but often. And I thank God for those blessings. So I encourage you to come along with me on this journey of learning to offer the sacrifice of our praise to a God who is worthy, even when we don’t feel like praising.
May God bless you on this journey,