Almost eight years ago I married my wonderful husband, and I am very thankful for him. He is a great husband and father and a sweet friend to me, too. When he proposed to me, he gave me a ring that I would have picked out myself. It was literally exactly what I would have asked for, and he never asked me. He always says that the Lord brought it right to him because he almost bought another one. The truth is, I would've gladly accepted anything he gave me to wear on my ring finger because I was, and still am, smitten with him.
Less than a year and a half after we married I went to Thailand on a mission trip with a Christian organization. We arrived there two months after the huge and devastating tsunami that hit there and all over Southeast Asia December 2004. After an incredible time in the mainland of Thailand rejoicing with so many vibrant and beautiful Thai women who loved the Lord, we traveled to the lower part of the country that was directly hit by the tsunami. There we were encouraging the Thai people who were working tirelessly to minister and aid the people who were affected.
It was a drastic contrast to be in the lower part of the country and meet the people we were meeting there compared to where we had just come from in the mainland. I found myself thinking of the verse in Romans in the Bible that reads, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn" (Romans 12:15). My question for God was, "How do I mourn with these people?" I understood what it was to rejoice with the women in the mainland, though they experienced hard times in their lives, as well. But I was completely at a loss as to how to mourn with these people. I met a woman who was about my age, married, and pregnant. Well she was. Her husband died in the tsunami, and she miscarried as a result of almost losing her own life in the waters. As a result, she now had a much harder challenge as a widow in a village she had married into. "How do I mourn with her, Lord?" How could I?
A few hours after asking that question, I went reluctantly for a swim with another lady. We were swimming in an inlet of the Indian Ocean. The people there told us that around 300 people died in those very waters. It was sobering. We waded in the water, and I was playing with my wedding ring because there was sunblock on it. Suddenly, it slipped off of my finger and into the water!
I could go on and on with details, but what happened over the next few minutes was one of the most intense moments with my Savior that I have ever experienced. It wasn't because of a valuable piece of precious metal given to me by my loving husband. It was because of the question I had asked earlier that day. So many people had lost their loved ones in those very waters, and now I had lost the most important material possession there. My loss no where near compared to theirs, but I began to see their loss a little more personally. We looked for the ring, we prayed for the people who still had not found their loved ones, we sat and prayed for them and looked around imagining that day when the waters came in, and we felt an outpouring of God's love for the people there. We felt His love for us, too. What a real moment of clarity. We got up to look for the ring again along the shore, just in case. Then I heard the Lord say, "It's gone. Let it go."
Later that evening after sharing all of this with the Thai people with whom we were serving, I read in my Bible through First Peter chapters 1 and 2. I had read chapters 3,4, and 5 that morning, and I hadn't understood why I intentionally skipped the first two chapters. That night I understood why.
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:6,7, emphasis mine).
I had found a little way to mourn with that woman. The Lord was increasing my faith and my love for people and for Him as a result.
I had to relay this story to my poor husband during a 3 minute phone call on a calling card from Thailand to the USA. I prayed that the Lord would help him with this considering he didn't have such a profound experience like I did. He had chosen not to renew the insurance for it just a month earlier. It was really gone.
Time passed after returning home and sporting my $22 silver band another woman on the trip bought for me at the LAX airport on the way home was good enough for me. I had thought about getting another diamond at some point, but I had learned about the common oppression that can come with the diamond industry in other countries (specifically Sierra Leone, Africa) and decided against it. I instead paired the band with another band given to my husband for me by a sweet lady at the church where he worked when we met.
Several years have passed since then, and recently I was thumbing through a catalog someone gave me. There was a sale on a very cool wedding ring set! For just $25 I could get a lovely, vintage-looking ring and band. They are sterling silver with a cubic zirconia stone. My husband said he would get it for me for my birthday, which is coming up. After getting it sized, it is now on my finger! Can you believe I have a new ring for under $60! I wish we would have looked for something like this back before we got married, but then again, what a rich experience it was to have lost something so valuable on that beach in those waters at that time.
I just wanted to share this story. I have been thinking about it so much lately because of the new ring. God is so amazingly personal. His heart is to show us His heart. What a love He has for me, for you, for the people He created! Unfathomable. Sometimes I find myself holding on to what I think is valuable. I hold on to what I think is mine, when the truth is that it has just been entrusted to me for a time. That time could be a long time, or it could be a short time. My responsibility is being faithful with what has been entrusted to me and using that time well. He always has a purpose.
Thailand and the people there will always have a special place in my heart. Thank You, LORD.
I have included these pictures to show you the rings. :) The first picture is courtesy of Paul Careccia Photography and was taken on my wedding day. The second is the one I had after Thailand, and the third is my new one.