The One Question You Need to Answer {When Trials Come}


I write it in bold, though I don’t need the reminder. I circle in color to proclaim it deserves a place here on my wall. This space where I display the importance of my everyday.

Calendars share events like no other, yet they are not a place to tell a story…

And I leave words off intentionally. They may be part of the event, even part of the story, but they don’t paint the picture I see.

My pen slows as I write his name in full. I print it out neatly as if I’m teaching it to him for the first time — the name his father and I painstakingly chose for him. The one I hold tightly to my chest and often exhale in stolen breaths.

In my best handwriting, I write the year below. Not to remind me of his stillborn birthday, but to remember the first time I heard “It’s a boy.” I don’t see it as an end date, but rather a beginning. And pronouncing it here helps me cling to the promise that this date of when I first held him won’t be the last.

I step back and look at the statement I’ve made. It’s not enough. These square days are too confined. But a journal… Not only can you share a story in those empty lines, but you can paint a picture. The very one you see imprinted on your heart…

It’s taken many pages, but I now see it. This masterpiece He’s been brushing on in strokes. Some heavy and hard. Others light and quick. Yet they all flow together to form the very pattern of my soul. It’s starting to take shape…the story this day has brought to my picture.

Friends, through every trial I have faced in my “short” life, one lesson has proven to be true:

Answering how, why, when, or where aren’t nearly as pertinent as answering “WHO.”
That’s really the only answer you need to know with certainty.

  • Who will walk through this with you?
  • Who will pick you up and remind you to breathe?
  • Who is still good even when all you see is bad?

And today, as I remember a day where I asked every question. As I look back and see where this pain of loss and longing has brought me. Today, as I proclaim this part of my story, I will celebrate the one answer I received.

For I discovered the answer of “WHO”. And it never changes. I can always rely on its predictability and have found comfort in it since.

Friends, I know Who holds my hand.

I know Who has never let go.

I know Who’s good. All the time. Even still…

And when I remember Who holds tomorrow. Who has overcome. Who has conquered the unbelievable this world can throw our way, I realize:

James was right.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

I write it in bold for the world to see: JOY. Because that’s what my son has taught me. That no matter why, how, when, where — none of that matters in the end. It can’t steal my joy, because I will always know the answer of Who.

And that answer promises joy in the morning (Psalm 30:5) along with new mercies every day (Lamentations 3:21-24).

He brings hope to days like today.

He is whom I will cling to when the mama inside me longs for more.

He is the answer. Every time. Even still…

How about you, friend? Do you know the answer of who? What have trials taught you? How do you answer those questions when all you see is defeat? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,


67 thoughts on “The One Question You Need to Answer {When Trials Come}

  1. Its been 34 years since I heard the words “your son will not live”. I too know “who”! I too have been held in His arms as He whispered into my spirit His love and joy. Thank you for your post. Not a day passes that my son is not a part of who I have become. More importantly not a day passes without my wonderful Father making me more of who He planned for me to be.
    Psalm 30:11-12 (MSG)
    11-12 You did it: you changed wild lament
    into whirling dance;
    You ripped off my black mourning band
    and decked me with wildflowers.
    I’m about to burst with song;
    I can’t keep quiet about you.
    God, my God,
    I can’t thank you enough.

    • Margaret, God used you to breathe life into me today. I can’t thank you enough for heeding His urge to share with me. Thank you so much. I’m sorry we have this in common, but you’re right. Look how God can use everything for His glory…may I never stop being amazed.
      All for Him with hugs to you,

  2. Dear Nikki
    Thank you for baring your deepest heart and pain with us. Dear friend, your words can only come from one who has walked the walk before talking the talk! In my life, I have found that suffering is a necissity to refine you, to take away all the dross of self and to let only our Lord Jesus be the master of my soul. We have such a propensity to always want to help Him with sanctifying us, yet, He doesn’t need our help at all. In fact, we need Him to save us from ourselves.
    Blessings and love
    Ps. This is one of my favorites of all your posts. I have a lump in my throat now.

    • Thank you so much, Mia. It’s so true. pain is often positive…for it refines and enhances the very glory He implanted in us in the womb. I don’t believe that was His design, though. As you put it–we need Him to save us from ourselves…
      You encourage me so. thank you!
      All for Him with hugs to you,

  3. What a beginner I am in this particular lesson of life! Thank you for your words, Nikki. I’m so proud of you for sharing this part of your story–your pain, your joy. You are beautiful!

    • Thank you, friend. I breathed easier when I turned on my computer and felt your cyber hug this morning;) and I know you’re not a beginner at trials, but am praying that remembering this will help you get through them easier like it does me. He’s the answer. He’s WHO. Every time. Even still… {HUGS}

    • Joy–it was so good to hear from you! I should tell you, you’ve been on my mind around 4:30am CT every morning for the last week. It’s been when I’ve prayed for you;) {HUGS} Would love to hear how you’re doing, friend.

      • Nikki,
        How precious of you to pray for me, I can’t tell you how much your prayers are appreciated. Funny, but 4:30am is the time of the morning when I am often awake praying also. God is so good and has answered all my prayers in ways better than I could even hope for or imagine.
        May you be blessed as you continue to follow His guidance and feel His peace and joy in your life.
        Love and hugs,

  4. I love you Nikki! He is the only answer to who was, who is and who will. Thank you so much for sharing your heart!

    • I’ll learn this tilted stance yet, Susan. 😉 Thank you, friend.
      You know–the last person who told me “I’m sorry” in person, I said “I’m not.” completely without thinking…but I told her — sorry implies regret and I don’t regret one bit where He has brought me through this…
      So, maybe in answering the “Who”, I also discover the answer to “Where”? hmmm…

      • One more thing….there will NEVER be any regret attached to your loss. I don’t know how recent your loss is…but you will ALWAYS be mama and the little one will always be a part of who you are. We don’t let loss define us but embrace to become part of who we always will be. There is a place that is only filled with that life and God’s amazing love and grace. He IS the who, always!!!

  5. Surrender. Ah Sweet Friend, you who have willingly given your life and hope to Him, not stripped bare but gently released, I marvel in your grace. I find surrendering to God is mostly about remembering WHO He is and who I am to Him. A surrendered mind, Christ in me, hidden in Christ, dependent on Him, everything I need for life, peace, and godliness. Oh to hold you close, because while we live between the beginning and the end right here in the meantime how dear it is to have skin on skin in an embrace. Your faith, your joy, your hope, your love – you are more precious than gold. I love you friend.

    • It IS in the surrender, isn’t it, Tobi. Oh my goodness, I might get this abiding business yet…
      I’m cherishing the verses you gave me, friend. And I feel Him loving on me so well through you. I don’t know what else to say but…thank you. I love you, too.

  6. There are no words really. Other than, I love you, Nikki! May you feel His presence in new and fresh ways today as you continue to give Him the glory. Praying for you!

  7. Oh Nikki, I can’t even fathom the pain and grief you must feel. His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and it is then that we can rely on Him to walk with us through our trials. My heart aches for you. Praying that He strengthens you today.

    • Thank you so much, Sarah. I’ve been wondering why we wait until life is too hard to let Him carry us and walk us through. What would it be like if we let Him lead and carry and give us rest each and every day? Would there be less trial? nah…He’s already warned us of those (John 16:33) but I’m betting there would be way more joy…
      I’m going to give it a try. I’ll try to keep sharing what I discover;) {HUGS}

  8. Love you Nikki…and feel the kinship in this. There’s always an unspoken bond I sense because of this shared heartache…

    And these words that don’t cover over the pain, but that lift eye back up to Him…
    They are beautiful and real and so far beyond any quickly-tossed-out-platitudes.
    There is real strength and hope and joy that resurfaces when clinging to Him.

    Praying for your day….and for your heart…and thanking God that you have allowed Him to use this in your life to deepen your understanding of who He is and His love for you.
    Love, K

    • What a gift you are to me, Kara. A part of me wishes we didn’t have this common thread…but then I realize that’s not really what we have in common, but it is how we found Him through it that binds us tight.

      I never knew I had such a tight grip until I was forced to let go…and cling to the only Who remaining…

      thank you for your prayers. for your friendship. Enocouragement. And mostly for letting me see Him so brightly through you. thank you.

  9. Thank you, Nikki for sharing this sacred space with us. I know this place and I know the mixed emotions that accompany it. I also believe that I learned a similar truth. The scripture I cleaved too was Psalm 121:1,2, I live my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of Heaven and Earth. It was a passage I heard some often growing up but I confess it never meant to me what it does now.

    Oh, please know what a treasure your words are. May God pour back the blessing and the comfort you give others a hundred fold! May He also hover especially near to you in your remembering. I pray for specific and tangible reminders of his love today.

    • What a gift it is when a passage of scripture comes alive and breathes new life into us! I cherish those moments. and I’m so sorry you have a similar sacred space, Tina.
      And thank you for your prayers. He’s been loving on me like crazy. ❤ {HUGS}

  10. You’re such a breath of fresh, honest air sweet Nikki. I’m glad we’re sisters. 🙂 Thinking of you right now so much. Thanks for visiting with me today too over in my little space. ~Blessings out, Amy

  11. This is so very beautiful Nikki! These trials in life…we wouldn’t ask for them, but through them God will teach us so much. God continues to teach me daily about trusting Him…especially in the hardest times. Each time I see Him carry me through, I know He’ll do it again and again.

    • It’s crazy how all the biggest gifts in my life, I never asked for. How could I not know me well enough? then I realized, I don’t know Him enough. But I’m honored to be given the chance to see the depths and heights and very richness of Him…because you’re right. He pulls through again and again.
      thank you for reading my heart, Laura. {HUGS}

  12. Nikki, I usually wait to read your posts until I am home because they usually bring tears. But they are usually tears from the Holy Spirit, tears of understanding, tears of conviction. But today, Nikki, my tears are for you. My heart and eyes are overflowing for you. I am also praising God and thanking Him for you and the truth you shared today. It certainly isn’t easy to share such heartache, but to be able to so beautifully share the truth of who He is to us, “even still”, it is a gift. He held my hand and held me up (and still does!) and I am so thankful He did and is doing the same for you.

    Thank you for writing this post and sharing it with us. You have touched my heart immeasurably. ❤

    • You know, Vicki…you know how far He’ll go to carry us through these trenches of life. I pray we never get over it. How He loves and pursues us…thank you, friend. for sharing this road with me.

  13. Oh, Nikki,
    How this stirred my heart. It’s been almost sixteen years since I lost my twin boys, and the pain dulls, but never completely goes away. I had come to The Lord just ten months prior to this devastating time, and I can say with absolute certainty that I would not have made it through that dark, dark valley without His abiding Presence holding me and leading me as I stumbled along, numb with grief. He held me and carried me, and I truly knew I wasn’t alone. Seventeen months later, after instilling within me an unwavering and childlike trust, and daily filling me with His peace, He gave me another son, healthy and strong. He doesn’t replace the ones I lost, but he is such a daily reminder of the Father’s unfathomable grace and amazing love. Indeed, knowing Who is the richest blessing of all.
    In His love,

    • Oh Stacy, I’d give you a proper hug if I could. Wow, is God’s timing ever perfect when we simply rest in His arms…and to have glory so visible on the other side of this pain…ugh. God is good. I’m so grateful we know Who…and that we can still cling.
      thank you for sharing your story and heart with me. I’m honored to catch a glimpse of Him in you.
      All for Him with hugs to you,

  14. How brave you are, Nikki, for letting us into such a sacred place. You have such a wise and loving heart. Your words bring strength & comfort at just the right time. Blessings to you, sweet friend.

    • You know, Lauren, I read this week a partial sentence that hasn’t left me “Testimony starts with transparency” and it was talking about just telling our stories in their raw form and letting Him do the rest of the work. I don’t know about brave, but I love what He has done in me enough to give it a try. thank you for reading my heart so tenderly, friend. {HUGS}

  15. (((Nikki))) — Tender, hopeful words, right in the midst of your pain. Thank you for trusting us with your story, for sharing so beautifully from the depths of your heart.

  16. He is blessed to have you as his momma, to be loved when love couldn’t be held. This is so beautiful and brings glory to God. I know you must minister to so many others as you have accepted this as joy. Only God could do this!

  17. Isn’t it amazing that we can see Who He Is through the fog, through the pain? Such grace. I appreciate the fact that you communicated that it takes time and space from some circumstances in order for us to see the view with the right lens, the correct perspective. Oh, that I may be patient and wait on the Lord. His truth sometimes is revealed slowly and I am too impatient to wait.

    • You know this well, Alyssa…the fog through the pain. Amazing what grace is capable of!
      and I probably should have clarified this waiting wasn’t pretty. for refinement rarely is, is it.
      oh but it’s worth it. please remind me of that often…

    • I’ve been trying it for some time now, Leah…and it’s working. it simplifies the pain if that is even possible. The answer of Who brings healing ointment to wounds left gaping.
      Thank you for reading my heart, friend.

  18. I wish I wasn’t so late to heap on the love, here, Nikki. Thank you. For sharing how you used that one square space to remind you of whatever would fit – and for sharing how the journal helped you lay out everything else. And, ultimately, see the Who for all that He is. I am blessed to read your words, even if I can’t exactly identify with your situation. Here, you give each of us space to breathe and grieve and expect joy in the morning. Thank you.

    • Girl, it’s never to late to heap on love! Thank you for reading my heart. truly. So grateful you can’t identify exactly, but you know pain. and maybe remembering the answer of Who will help you heal, too. {HUGS}

  19. Nikki,

    I am so sorry for the loss of your son. I pause, and words are silenced here…

    I miscarried and lost a child too. We named him Jackson, and mourned him.

    Thank you for this peek here and for the truths here of the vital importance of seeking out the Whos that we can share this journey with, including the most important Who (God).

    Your words remind me of the new Wonderstruck bible study book I’ve started.

    Nice to meet you,
    Jennifer Dougan

    • Jennifer, thank you for sharing with me so tenderly. I’m honored to know Jackson holds a piece of your heart. My Elijah holds mine…
      and I wonder if these words percolated up as I’ve been reading Wonderstruck as well!
      All for Him with hugs to you,

  20. Pingback: ~Holding In~ | My Life~ and your's

  21. Nikki, I’m sorry for the pain you’ve suffered but glad for the joy you’ve experienced. Thank you for sharing. When I suffer, my favorite question to ask is: “What should I be learning from this?” Coming to you via Imperfect Prose.

    • That is a good question, too, Brandee. You must be stronger than I, for I can’t ask myself that until my feet are back on solid ground. It’s what I ask myself now when I remember him…

  22. Nikki, I “liked” this because I love your heart. One that is always open to Whom. Whom may love you. Whom may hold you. The “may” is because we must choose to allow. And you do. Praise Whom for that? Him. Only Him.

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