Wednesday morning Co woke up at 2am (as has been his custom these last few weeks). We snuggled on the couch and watched “House Hunters International” on HGTV. He was in a kissy mood, so it was be hard to be mad at him for keeping me awake. We fell asleep around 3:30a and when the alarm went off at 4:00 and 4:30a, I ignored it. When the final alarm sounded a half hour later, I knew I couldn’t put off getting up any longer. I quickly got dressed and then got a very talkative Co dressed and fed the dogs and headed out the door. I picked Shawn and Ryder (his guitar player) up at the apartment and we were off by 6a.
Co continued to babble happily in the car and punctuated his baby talk with occasional squeals, just in case we’d forgotten he was there. I pulled into the driveway just in time to pass Dad heading off to work. I grabbed Co’s shoes (which he’d take off during the ride) and juggled him in the other arm as I headed to the front door. “Papa?” he asked. “Papa’s going to work, baby. Grandma is going to watch you this morning and then I will back to get you after lunch.” Mom walked down the hallway and scooped him up.
Then I saw her eyes.
If Mom has been crying, her eyes are a dead giveaway. I couldn’t even ask her what was wrong before she’d told me. A couple we love had lost their baby the night before. Its not the first child they’ve lost or even the second. I heard myself say exactly what I was really thinking, “God, no!” She just nodded. There was nothing else to say.
I got back in the car and said a few words that probably could’ve left out. All I could think was that I was going to supervise a visit in a few hours of a perfectly healthy little girl whose parents are too immature and selfish to get jobs and get her out of foster care. And yet, here is this amazing couple who love God and have been faithful to Him through so much loss and are again facing another unimaginable loss.
I drove to the airport, with a heaviness and a multitude of questions. We all made small talk as the sun rose, but my mind never diverted away from my friends. I dropped the guys off and I headed to Springfield. The hour long drive felt like it took twice as long as usual. I had an hour to spare so I pulled into Panera Bread, grabbed a seat by the fireplace, and sat with a cup of tea and my thoughts.
There are a million things I have said to someone whose hurting; a million things I have had said to me in times of sadness… none of them really make anyone feel better. I have heard teaching about death and sorrow. Pastor Ricks has said, “no death surprises God. Everyone dies when they are finished. Every life no matter how short or long has a purpose and when that purpose is completed, the person is finished.” I believe that, but its sometimes hard for me to get my emotions around.
How can a newborn or a child in the womb finish his or her purpose before taking a breath? I have had numerous friends miscarry, several friends whose wombs are closed, and a handful of friends whose children died in the womb a short time before they were to be birthed, and even dear friends who’ve lost babies hours after their birth. I am not very old. But I have lived long enough to see that many responsible, loving, God-fearing parents’ arms go empty while the wombs of the abusive, negligent, and irresponsible are full.
I don’t feel angry at God, but I don’t understand. All theological arguments and reasoning aside, there are some blows that are just plain hard to live with.
I woke up this morning thinking of Lazarus death…and of Jesus. Do you guys remember the story?
Jesus got word from Mary and Martha that their brother, also called “the one [Jesus] loved”, was very ill. Instead of rushing to his side, as might be expected, Jesus spends a few more days where he is and then when he tells the disciples they are going to him he says “plainly” that Lazarus has died. By the time Jesus shows up, the mourners are at work, and the sisters are grieving their Lazarus who has now been dead four days. We all know the end of the story, right? Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.
Obviously I don’t mean to imply that God is going to resurrect the children my friends ache for… the story lines aren’t parallel. What grabbed my heart this morning as I read this passage over and over was not what Jesus did, as much as what Jesus revealed in His words and His emotion.
As a child I learned that the shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35 “Jesus wept.” Simple as it is, it holds immense meaning for those of us in pain and those of us who love those who are in pain. You see, at the opening of the story, Jesus knows full well that Lazarus will die and also knows Lazarus will be restored to life. He sees the end of the matter, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s son may be glorified through it.” And still, when faced with the sister’s grief and tears, Jesus was moved… and he wept.
We are uncomfortable with grief. I think we say things like “God will use this” or other such sentiments because we want to move the hurting out of the emotions of pain that are so difficult for us to sit with. We want to point to the silver lining and see the good that will be- so much, that we rush off to it.
Jesus didn’t do that. He wept. He knew that in a matter of minutes Lazarus would come out of the grave when he called. He knew Martha and Mary would have their brother back. And still he wept. My friends will not have their child back in a few days, just as my sweet friends from Seattle will never have their daughter back in the flesh. Sure, we know God works all things for good to those who love Him and we believe there is something beyond a physical death…. and still, there is room for tears and sorrow.
And when the season for weeping has passed and we are left with a dull ache and an awareness that this place is not our home, we have this Hope
“I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. HE WHO BELIEVES IN ME WILL LIVE, EVEN THOUGH HE DIES; AND WHOEVER LIVES AND BELIEVES IN ME WILL NEVER DIE.”