Sunday, October 27, 2013

sorrow and hope

ecclesiastes 3:1-4
“for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance”

i was sitting in church on october 13, and the pastor was preaching from ecclesiastes 3. he spoke about how, although we all want to think we are in control of our lives, this is merely an illusion. there is a season for everything – including weeping and mourning – and we don’t get to pick when we go through these seasons. they are an inevitability. one phone call or conversation can change everything. i remember sitting in my chair that night thinking “i hope this sermon isn’t meant specifically for me.”

the next morning, on october 14, i experienced that “one conversation that changes everything.”
benjamin and i watched a sonogram screen as the sonographer zoomed in on our precious baby. the image will forever be burned into my mind. She said “there’s your baby,” and then there was silence. after a pause, she spoke the words that i had so greatly feared – and yet hoped i would never hear – “i’m looking really hard, but i can’t find a heartbeat.” those words hit us both like a ton of bricks. it was as if in that moment, all of our hopes were shredded to pieces. the image of our baby lingered on the screen – a baby that we will never have the privilege of knowing. 

although i was ten weeks pregnant that day, somehow the doctor was able to tell that our baby had died around eleven days earlier. so somewhere around october 3, our precious little one met Jesus face to face.

there were moments over the next few days that the grief felt so incredibly heavy. listening to benjamin sob on the phone as he tried to tell his mother was one of those moments. waking up from surgery the following day knowing that my baby’s body was no longer inside of mine was another such moment. at moments i still feel the overwhelming grief flood over me.

but even deeper than the grief, i cling to the goodness and the grace of a Heavenly Father who grieves with us and mourns with us, and who sees the big picture of eternity even when the tiny corner of the picture i’m seeing is blurred from tears.

right after we found out we were pregnant, benjamin wanted to get a journal so that we could write letters to our son or daughter. we wanted to document our hopes and dreams and prayers for our child, and we hoped that one day he or she would be able to read our words and know how deeply we had loved and cherished him or her.

in one of our conversations shortly after learning of the miscarriage, benjamin pointed out that the one main prayer that we had both prayed for our child – that he or she would come to know Jesus – had already come true. it is still hard for me to write this without tears in my eyes, because as much as i mourn the loss of this precious child, i am so incredibly grateful to know that he or she does know Jesus. i believe that Jesus knit our precious child together in my womb, and then spared him or her from the pain and brokenness of this world. in detailing my hopes for our child, i had written that i hoped he or she would be kind and self-sacrificing and compassionate toward others, but that this would also be extremely hard because it would require dying to his or her innate sin nature (which is only possible through Jesus). but the truth is that our child will never struggle to be these things. Jesus has already made things right for our baby.

when things like this happen, often times people ask “why me, God?” but i think this is the wrong question to ask. i think the more appropriate question to ask is “why not me, God?” the reason i believe this is the more appropriate question is because Scripture is clear that we are all broken, fallen, sinful, and depraved. we don’t deserve anything that is good, and we deserve everything that is bad. everything in my life that is good is completely undeserved – and there are SO many things in my life that are good. when trials come, i can know that trials are normal in this life of sin and brokenness. the fall has made it where the default button in life is sorrow. if God truly gave me what i deserve, i would get only bad things all of the time. but He is SO gracious. He gives good gifts to His children.  so it just doesn’t seem right to ask “why me?” when bad things happen, as if i actually deserve something better. when good things happen, i never ask “why me?” i seem to assume that i deserve such good things. but i don’t. God owes me nothing. and yet He gives me grace and hope and love and community. and when the sorrows of this world come rushing in, His grace sustains me, His arms hold me, and His peace consumes me. 

i believe with my whole heart that my life is not about me. my life is about Jesus. for some reason, He has allowed this particular sorrow to be a part of my story. i not only hope, but i fully believe, that in some way the loss of this child will bring glory and fame to Jesus. i don’t know how yet. but that’s just how Jesus works. this life is broken and messed up. but Jesus inserts Himself in it. He left Heaven to inhabit this world. and He made a way for broken people to join His family. He is working to restore what has been broken. but the restoration isn’t yet complete. and so we live in the anticipation that one day, everything will be made right.

while my arms ache to hold my precious baby, i know that he or she is in much bigger, better, stronger arms tonight. while i mourn for myself, and for benjamin (who will one day make such an amazing dad), and for the many others who already loved this child along with us, i am under no illusion that we could have given this child a better home than he or she now already has. i can’t compete with the arms of Jesus.

so to my precious child, i love you and i miss you, but i will see you soon. as king david said regarding his child who died, you can’t come to me, but one day i’ll come to you (2 samuel 12:23). so enjoy Jesus. soak up His love for you. rest in His peace. and know that you are blessed beyond measure.

as for me, as i continue to trust in the goodness of God, i will echo the words of job: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (job 1:21b)   

Jesus, You are worthy of praise. Jesus, You deserve my worship. Jesus, You are good. Jesus, You are more than enough for me.

Jesus, in the midst of sorrow, You are my hope.

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This blog is a testimony to the work that God is perpetually acting in my life. I am learning that when I think I've given enough of myself, I've barely begun. My prayer is that as God continues to grab hold of my life, not only will He become greater and I become less, but He will become ultimately supreme and I will vanish. This Holy Disappearance will be a lifelong journey in which, by the grace of God, I will become so wrapped up in Him that all of me will disappear and all of Him will SHINE