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.


  1. Alissa, this is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Your beautiful singing last night moved me to tears, and I feel like you are this broken vessel still carrying God's love to pour out on everyone around you. You are so beautiful. Thank you. Theee words jump out at me as wisdom "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" God bless you and Matt today. You are such a treasure and a blessing. You cannot possibly know how your story and your journey touches people. Thank you. Hugs Kathy K

  2. God is so good....He truly loves us with an indescribable love. His way does not make sense in this world, but when we see Him face to face all things will make sense. Love you, take courage for this journey.....

  3. Beautiful, Alissa. I so love you and your transparent heart!

  4. This is so beautiful Alissa, thank you and Matt for sharing so much of your heart. It is helping me also in my grief, in understanding and accepting what is painful. My faith is strengthened when I read your words.......

  5. Thank you for sharing your heart and journey. Much of what you shared confirms what I tell myself when I find myself aching for you, that you really are "Safe in His hands" too. Love you.

  6. Our Lord is so proud of you both! So are all of us who continue to pray and hurt with you. God's peace and healing to your family and friends. Thank you for what you wrote. It was beautiful.

  7. Alissa I have been reading your posts since I heard about your family in the news. Our first son was born with hypo-plastic left heart syndrome 30 years ago next month. I too longed to be a mother and share my love for children. Even though 30 years have passed I think of him every day. Not with pain but with love and thankfulness that we were given 2 and a half beautiful days with him. Your words have touched me so deeply today for I am struggling with my fathers declining health. You have given strong words that I can hold onto through this struggle, for this I give you thanks.

  8. Know that even strangers continue to pray for your family. Thank you for sharing your hearts, both of you. You clearly point to the love of a Savior, even in the midst of your grief. Thank you.

  9. I have been meditating on your words all night. How beautiful the thought that God's plan in our trials could be to show his glory though our healing. My husband and I are pregnant after five miscarriages and while I don't know that I will ever fully understand why God chose to let our life play out the way it has, but I find so much comfort in the thought that as we have journeyed the pain of loss and seemingly unanswered prayers for healing, perhaps our lives have reflected something of his glory as we have fought to stand strong in our faith. Continuing to pray for your family.

  10. I needed to read this today! Thank you for sharing your heart and allowing us to peek inside!

  11. Dear Alissa
    Tonight as I am listening to you sing Anna Joy's song with me, I am lifting you up before the Lord asking Him to comfort you and show you His favor. His love for you is beyond measure. May you feel it in a very real way tonight. Kathy K

  12. It's so good to hear (read) from you again. I think of you and Matt often. I have felt God working through you in my own life. Your unshaken faith and commitment to our Lord is so inspiring. Recently my sister lost her first baby through miscarriage and I directed her to your blog. I told her how amazingly you are able to praise God through it all and possibly your words could help my sister find some comfort and direction. "Maybe I want to show my glory through healing YOUR heart instead." This is what Anna's story, your story, does for me. Thank you for continuing to open your heart and share your thoughts and revelations. There are many parents that go through the same questioning and pain that you have experienced. Your words are encouraging and lend some clarity to others when faith seems waning.

    May God continue to comfort you and surround you with His love!

    God bless,

  13. Alissa, Thank you for sharing... I pray for hope in the midst of takes such courage day by day.

    2 Corinthians 4:17-18 and Hebrews 4:15-16 have carried me through "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses... let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" when I feel like I am in the pit; even in the midst of SO many blessings.

    I believe He honors authenticity & intimacy with Him pours forth. I KNOW He can handle our emotions, our disappointment, our sadness--- even if the world can't. Every time He shows us His goodness in the midst of our brokenness... we are transformed for Him.

    You are on my heart regularly; I can't "let go" because of how deeply your story has touched me and my family.

    Janine (part of Aunt Wendy's, church family)in Los Angeles, CA

  14. Thank you for opening your heart. Your words have comforted us.
    I write from Chile.
    We also have a daughter. Despite all our prayers, was born with Apert syndrome,
    I know your pain is much greater than ours, but I want you to know that I also ask myself the same question as you.
    I look at my daughter. That little girl makes us immensely happy. I watch his face, his hands, I think of the defective gene (1 in 35,000) that he ordered his cranial sutures close early, and decided that their fingers will not separate. Yes, constantly think about the difficulties that lie ahead, I wonder how he will do in school, as will their peers, how you will feel it when you compare their little hands with mine. A dad and I were concerned their future, not a paralyzing fear, but with a great responsibility-and a great honor, of preparing for a hostile world.
    Often I see babies. I find them everywhere. I look at his fingers in his face. I try to imagine what it would have been the face of Emilia if everything had gone "normally". I also enjoy watching their parents Will they know how lucky they are? Do you realize the genetic miracle that is your baby? And then imagine the Emilia in those arms. Back to reality. I do not want my daughter to another family. Emilia is ours and forever.

    Sometimes round the inevitable question "why?" (Although I admit that their views are increasingly sporadic). To be honest, I do not ask "why?". Emilia simply accept as pharyngitis accept. Our baby was born in a fallen world, damn. No further explanation or want another. Of course, sometimes it is inevitable that one perceives the judgment of the rest, as Job received comments from his "friends". Do they think that our daughter really is a punishment from God himself? Do people have a degree of spiritual myopia? And of course there are those who pity us and act almost superstitiously ... Well, with these people I lack the grace ...
    There is nothing to pity. Our daughter is wonderful, and we love her. We are honored to have her on our side, if your parents.
    They are dropping a few drops. It's cold. Thus was born the day when Emilia. At that time we were struck by tragedy. I remember that day questioned God, and in desperation have asked him to take her away. I try to imagine the Lord's answer now "What I take her? ... You'll see how much they will love ..." In what way Emilita captivated us how happy we are!
    Thank God, it never entered my head to abort the Emi. Never. But perhaps this is because of my Christian convictions, perhaps in part because in Chile, abortion is a crime. Had he thought in a different way had I been given this authority? I do not know. The news of having a child "special" can remove even the most basic values.
    It is true that Emilia did not expect an easy life. It is true that having a different child is very draining. Proven is that sick babies raise the risk of divorce. If we aborted Emilia, it does not afflict us absolutely nothing about this. And nothing has been easy, but you know what? when we watch Emilia play with swabs, smile, take your bottle ... I'd have it exactly what it is.
    Perhaps in the future, as in Chile decriminalize abortion and make usual practice of amniocentesis and other tests exist to detect genetic abnormalities, doctors provide the power to terminate the pregnancy. When that happens, we will not see many Emilias ... but we will miss with it the wonderful joy that we give the children different.
    Nobody wants a sick child. I myself would have other normal children, but hey, one catches a cold, suffers earthquakes, go to funerals and just accept it as the rules of life.
    I do not want a Brave New World. I want a real world, fallen and cursed. The same world which God sent his only Son to redeem it.

  15. thank you for your words! God has spoken to me right now through your words. :)

    I am a stranger here in SoCal, but my prayers will continue on behalf of your special family!

  16. Still thinking and praying for you both.