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Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be whole and complete, lacking nothing.”

These words, from James 1:2-4, have taken on a special meaning in my life.

About two years ago I prayed that God would make me a more compassionate person. Although I never could have imagined it, God used a series of sad and terrible events in my life to provide a lasting answer to that prayer.

After trying for what seemed like ages to get pregnant, my husband and I were ecstatic to find out that we would be having a baby! We sat at our first doctor’s appointment, giddy to see our miraculous bundle of joy appear on the ultrasound monitor.

But then the doctor started saying things like, “Hmmm” and “I’m not sure what this means.” Finally we heard her say, “I’m sorry, there is something wrong here. There is no baby. It appears you have a rare condition called a molar pregnancy. We will need to monitor you very closely for the next six months.” She reached out to hold my hand.

Over the next weeks and months my feelings stampeded to catch up with me as I began to understand what had happened and what it meant. Though it would take several more months for me to hit bottom, I started to realize that my own strength could not carry me through; God would have to give me the stamina I needed. I decided then to ask God to make unmistakably clear to me what he wanted me to learn through the experience.

As the first weeks went by, the news was all good; my body was healing rapidly. Until one afternoon in December. The doctor called to inform us that this strange thing had come back in the form of a cancerous growth. I would require a mild form of chemotherapy until the growth was gone, and then we would have to wait an additional year before we could even begin to think about having a baby.

Suddenly everything was completely uncertain.

Resentment crept into my life. Despite my prayers for God to take away my bitterness, I felt angry at teenage mothers and at anyone who complained about having kids, ignored their kids, refused to care for or discipline their kids, or took them for granted in any way.

Over and over I asked God to remove those feelings of animosity. One day, finally, they were just gone. God, as he always is, was faithful.

Looking back at the past few years, I know now that God’s plan is far greater than my own. God has taught me patience, empathy, and compassion—all virtues that I honestly needed a lot more of. And in teaching me these, God answered past prayers, although not in a way I had ever hoped for or imagined.

The blessings that have come out of such a difficult situation have far outweighed the inconveniences. Today I would not change anything, even if there were a way I could go back. I enjoyed one of the best summers I ever had, went on a church missions trip, became closer to my husband, and drew nearer to God through prayer, Scripture reading, Bible study, and the kindness of so many people.

Update: In February 2009, Adria was declared cancer free. The following month she and her husband, Steve, discovered they were expecting. At their six-week appointment, in the same room, they again heard the doctor say, “Hmmm. Interesting . . . ” followed by a long silence. But this time she added, “It looks like you’ve got two of them in there.”

Adria and Steve celebrated the birth of twins Peter and Joy on Nov. 6, 2009.

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