A year ago, we should have been eagerly expecting the arrival of our second son. Instead, we were mourning his death and about to embark on the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with a miscarriage. We’ve now come full circle in a life and death dance and have welcomed our daughter into this torn up, beautiful world in late November.
I recently had the opportunity to correspond with and meet a couple who lost a baby this past August. She was born early, lived her short life in the hospital and the hands of the medical community, and was swept up to Jesus after two months of battling a rare lymphatic disorder. Their home and hearts were prepared to be cradling a baby girl this December, but instead, they find themselves with empty, aching arms and bruised hearts.
Something this mama said to me was that it’s difficult to see how this losing of our babies fits into the Gospel. That statement has been echoing around in my heart since and I keep coming back to it, wondering the same thing.
Because that’s been the crux of my struggle with our losses: how could this God who gave His son, gave His life, gives His everything allow my child to be taken from me? How is that Gospel? Babies dying isn’t good news to anyone. The puzzle pieces don’t seem to fit and my heart, our hearts, long for answers.
And then this morning, as I was reading my Advent devotional, I came across this message from Ann Voskamp: “If God can transfigure the greatest evil into the greatest Gift, then He intends to turn whatever you’re experiencing now into a gift. You cannot be undone.”
“No matter what intends to harm you…God is never absent, never impotent, never distant. You cannot be undone.”
“What was intended to tear you apart, God intends it to set you apart.”
“When you are brave, you give yourself the gift of facing and touching the torn places. The places where we’re torn to pieces can be thin places where we touch the peace of God.”
Could it be that these evils, this sin-induced cruelty in life, could morph into some goodness? Can light be found in this darkness? Sometimes the cloak of darkness is strangely comfortable and my eyes want to squeeze shut because the light is painful to these eyes adjusted to the black and bleak. But it breaks through. The gentle streams of His glory beckon and I begin to see.
I see the names of the women who’ve contacted me, thanking me for sharing my story and His story of hope sown in my heart.
I see people differently. I see that their pain, whatever it is, present and working itself out in their hearts and lives and I empathize and have a heart more patient, more loving than I ever did.
I see my world with new lenses. I slow down, breath deeper, drink in the beauty of life and the vivacity of the people around me.
I see that we’re all in our own stories, with the Gospel playing out in different ways in our lives. Pain never immediately seems to reflect Gospel, but when we step back, when we give ourselves the gift of time and persevering, new life is visible. Green weaves itself into the lifeless, brown, dirt-like tapestry of our pain. We may not see it in this life, but this life is fleeting and dull compared to the glory of the one to come.
You were made for more.
I also see that glory seems so far away when we long to hold someone who lives there. We rightly long more desperately for this place, this state of being that’s promised to us, but surviving the bleak midwinter of trauma and tragedy and pain cripples a heart. It breaks you.
“I wasn’t built for this!” she said to me. This mama who just lost her baby.
She’s right. We weren’t made for this world. We weren’t created for loss and pain and sorrow. And that’s where I think the disconnect arrives because it seems so impossible to understand why God would will this fate for our children.
He doesn’t. But He does have plans for a hope and a future laid for us, no matter what obstacles we face getting there. I learned recently that this working out of things for our good that He promises is the working out of our circumstances to make us more like Him. As we persevere when we can and endure when we have to, He’s busy working out His glory in our hearts. Our God is scrubbing away the “me-ness” of our souls and replacing it with His likeness. Christlikeness.
So be brave. Touch your torn places and touch the peace of God. He intends to set you apart, and in Him, you cannot be undone.