I was twelve when my house burned down. We were playing cards in our living room, in our log cabin, in small town Outer Mongolia when we heard what sounded like kids throwing rocks on the roof.
I remember my Dad running into the house yelling fire.
I remember running down our street to the one house that had a phone.
I remember watching outside our gate as the whole neighborhood converged on the house, pulling out all our belongings and making a pile of them in the yard.
I remember the sound the roof made as it crackled and the smell of the fire as we watched the house burn.
I lost everything in that fire. All my toys. All my clothes. All my childhood memories, burned.
A few months later we had our first family vacation in Asia and we took the trans-Siberian railroad from Mongolia, through Russia and Poland to Hamburg, Germany. During that trip us kids were allowed to choose one toy to take back with us and I chose a doll. I was too old for a doll, I didn’t play with dolls, but I wanted a doll that I could one day give to a daughter if I ever had one. I wanted something tangible from childhood that could be passed on, so I chose this beautiful doll with bright red hair that came with a little basket to carry her in. I loved it.
Fast forward a few years and you can guess that the doll was ultimately stolen as was everything else that I had left at home.
The doll was never something that I grieved or thought of much in the coming years. I moved on, finished high school and started college and developed a theology about who God was.
God required sacrifice.
God took from us the things, places, people that we love the most.
All for his glory.
I knew for sure God would never let me get married….and then I got married.
I knew for sure that God wouldn’t allow me to have kids….and then I got pregnant…. with twins.
My twins were born at 37 weeks completely bald. The most beautiful babies you could imagine. Around eight months old Luke and Anna started to get little tufts of hair and I vividly remember the day that God reached down to me. I was sitting on the floor while the babies were on all fours rocking, so close to crawling with their chubby limbs, and light shone through the window and hit Anna’s hair just right.
My sweet baby girl has red hair.
At that moment I remembered my doll and God gave to me the verse from Matthew 19:29, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”
I felt a rush of grief as well as a rush of comfort and joy because in that moment God told me that he had seen it all. Every loss. Every goodbye. Every pain. He had been there, he had seen it, and there was a reward.
I tell you this because I know it’s true.
God sees every loss. Even the losses you tell yourself are inconsequential. He sees them all, he knows them all and he has a reward for you.
Granted, not every loss comes with such a tangible reward in this life, but I promise you this, nothing you give up for the sake of Christ’s name among the nations will go unseen and unrewarded. Every illness you experience, every goodbye you say, every humiliation, all the loneliness, is worth it. Jesus is worth it.
You know, the hundred fold wasn’t even that I got my doll back in the form of my red headed angel, it was the fact that when I wasn’t seeking, and when I wasn’t asking, Jesus himself sought after me.
He reached out and He saved me. He saved me from bitterness and brought me hope and He will do the same for you.
“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” Hebrews 6:10
How have you experienced God’s hundred-fold in your life?
What gifts and graces has He sprinkled into your life in the midst of the losses you have experienced?