Saturday, April 7, 2012

O How He Loves Us

Shortly after Anna's passing, I had a hard time accepting the concept that Jesus was crying with me as I mourned for her. People would tell me that, and I wanted to be comforted by the thought, but I couldn't quite get my brain and heart to unite and grasp it. I remember wondering why Jesus would be sad when He could've just made the heart & lung defects go away and let me take my baby home (instead of Him taking her HOME). I wanted to say, "Why would You be crying with me over my daughter's death, when you allowed her to be sick and die? You could have saved both of us these tears, this grief!"

Another question I wrestled with for a couple weeks: "Why would He break my heart on purpose?" God gave me a heart for children and babies and gave me strong desire to be a mother. It's what I've dreamed of since I was very young. He gave me this longing. Why allow me to struggle with infertility, miscarriages, and now infant loss? I know in my heart of hearts that He is loving and good and sovereign. But I was broken, and wondered why the God of the universe, the Lover of my soul, would allow such pain.

Well, God is teaching me some things lately. I can't even get them all down, it seems every day there's something He speaks to my soul that I have to process. Please don't over-analyze my thoughts here. I certainly don't claim to be a theologian... just sharing more of the journey.

He created the world in perfection, but gave humans a choice. He didn't want to force us to love Him and live for Him. We chose (choose) selfishness. Thus, the world isn't perfect anymore. We chose (choose) our own way, which is imperfect. Therefore, there is sickness, pain, suffering, sin, and death in our world. Just a natural result of our free-will.

I don't like it, but it's the way it is. I've started to notice that many people want heaven on earth, but it's not going to happen... not until Jesus comes back. I have been caught in that longing for many years. We want perfect health, no wars, clean air, material comforts without debt, pleasures without consequences, no serious challenges, stress-free careers and relationships, etc. Sorry, folks! We're not in heaven yet. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) That's the good news. That's the hope Matt & I cling to. This world is temporary. But there's a plan for purpose beyond this world as we know it. 

I have come to believe that Jesus is indeed crying with me over my loss. He doesn't want to see me sad. He doesn't like that she was born with under-developed veins in her lungs, incapable of pumping blood. He is angered by the imperfection that occurs constantly for all of us. He is heartbroken over our pain, and hates to see us hurting. But... although He has full capability to fix it... a lot of times He doesn't. At least not in the way WE envision it should be fixed. 

A month or so ago I remember telling God I really wanted Him to heal Anna. Not just for my sake, but for so many who were involved in her story. All the people who read the blog, the children who prayed in faith believing she would be healed, and the doctors who were working with her. Lord, it would've been a perfect opportunity to show them Your power, Your love, Your glory, Your personal involvement in our lives. So many were watching... why didn't You heal her heart? I really thought you would... somehow... bring her through at least... allow her to live longer than just 11 days... Oh, God, I REALLY wanted to see you heal Anna's heart!

And He responded.

"Maybe I want to show my glory through healing YOUR heart instead."


That would be a miracle, too. 

As awful as this road is, with its dark fog surrounding me, rough bumps that trip me, bitter cold distracting my mind, and sharp obstacles that open my wounds over and over... I can count on one thing. The strong hand of Jesus gripping mine. Often I feel blindfolded and paralyzed. I fall, I cry out in despair. And His strength pulls me back up, warms my aching heart, and reminds me He's with me. When I accept that help, I am found. The hurt is still present, but I'm not lost. 

What an amazing God... amazing Friend. He can be sharing the most sincere, empathetic anguish with me here on earth, and sharing the most pure, heartfelt joy with Anna in Glory at the same time. You see, He is about love. He IS love. And the most true love is unselfish, wanting the best for the other person. Jesus is doing His best for me by never leaving my side, by feeling all of the mixed up emotions I feel, by lighting the way for my next step, by providing strength for the day, by showing me His heart... it is full of L.O.V.E.

Why do we (I) default into thinking that when something bad happens to us, God doesn't love us? I don't believe He's causing the bad thing. We're just part of a fallen world. A world that longs to be found by Him. A world that groans and searches for His perfect love... often without realizing it. He doesn't want to watch us go through painful experiences. He wants to love us, teach us, show us His endless mercy and glory through the trials of this life. Everything can draw us closer to Him if we chose to look for Him. 

My friend, Krista, texted me the following on July 27, right after we found out there was a possibility our baby girl had a heart defect:
"…He created this little life. 
  He has a divine purpose in mind
  and He is trustworthy. 
  He is, He is.
  And He loves, loves, loves you."

I am slowly learning what it means to believe that. It sounds funny even to myself as I admit that. I was raised in the Church, yet feel in the past few years I'm starting to understand the love of God. Doesn't it seem a bit strange that I am experiencing His love most in the wake of heart-wrenching loss? Maybe not. I've run to Him so desperately through it all. Even when I'm sad, mad, confused, emotionally bankrupt, physically drained, and ready to give up on it all. He's there. He lets me show it all. And He holds my heart so tenderly as I question and cry and beg for healing. Through it all. I'm so thankful Something in my life never changes. 

He understands. He cries.

He chose to relate to us because He loves us.

Isaiah 53:3-5
 He was despised and rejected by mankind, 
   a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
   he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

 Surely he took up our pain
   and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
   stricken by him, and afflicted. 

 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
   and by his wounds we are healed.

My mom brought my attention to an article from the April 2012 issue of Christianity Today by Ben Witherington called "When A Daughter Dies". He recently lost his 32-year-old daughter. The whole article is good, but a portion states... 
          Jesus said, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10)
          If there are promises I cling to as I weep for our Christy, it is this promise, not
          the sorry solace and cold comfort of, "God did this but we do not know why." No!
          A thousand times, no. God and his will are aligned with what is good and true and
          beautiful and loving and holy. 

          The phrase, "It's all God's will," is cold comfort. I believe in a God whose "Yes!" to
          life is louder than death's "No!" Death is not God's will. On the contrary, God is in
          the trenches with us, fighting the very same evils we fight in this world - disease,
          suffering, sorrow, sin, and death itself. He cries with us.

I'm grateful this Easter weekend. So grateful for what Christ did for me on the cross, and conquering death by rising again! I'm also sad because I don't get to put Anna in a little Easter dress, show her off at church, and take pictures of her with Isaac. She would have been 4 months old on the 8th, Easter Sunday. But I'm trying to keep my heart set on the bigger picture. Trying to continue the process of letting go of my expectations of what I think God should be in my life... and allowing Him to reveal a more true portrait of Himself. I'm not thankful that I lost my darling baby girl. I still weep with longing for all I'm missing. But I'm thankful I have a God who cares, loves, and walks with me. He is helping me see His heart little by little. I don't understand much of it, but I'm learning to accept it... all the while celebrating my beautiful Anna Joy we miss so much. Praise God - she points me to Him at every memory. What a legacy!

2 Corinthians 4:17-18
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.