God doesn’t cause my troubles. He sees me through them.
Well, that’s the punch line.
Last September our baby was born in heaven. God named her Clara. Five weeks ago our son was taken up in the arms of Jesus. I saw him. I saw Jesus holding him like he was the only baby in the whole world, the expression of wonder and untamed happiness on His face as He looked down at Isaiah and then back at me as if to say, “Can you believe how wonderful he is?” and throw His head back and laugh, completely unable to contain His joy.
So let’s talk about pain . Real pain. Call it sorrow, call it grief, call it trials or suffering — that kind of pain. The kind that is simply a part of living. Show me a person who has lived without real pain and I’ll eat the one hat I own. Pain is one of the enemy’s plans to cripple and destroy us. True story. I also believe that pain is absolutely essential to life as food and water. Hear me out.
Could it be God’s plan to walk the road of suffering? Yes; in a way. I’ll just say I don’t think every bad thing that happens is orchestrated by God to give us a nice little life lesson — usually it’s our own choices mixed with other people’s choices with a dash of chance. Bad things happen and that’s just the way it is. Is it always His plan to see a hardship worked out for good? Yes. Double yes.
We are experiencing the heart-wrenching, emotional agony of losing two children through miscarriage. Many of you are familiar with this pain having walked through it yourselves either for an unborn, an infant or a grown child. Many don’t know what to do with this alien grief. We didn’t know what to make of it, had no clue, until it touched our lives. I couldn’t even try to imagine what it must be like, could not relate, because my mind couldn’t seem to go there even in the hypothetical. Then all at once we were welcomed with open arms by a sort of secret club of fathers and mothers who are intimately acquainted with the wound of a broken heart over a lost child. Most of our friends, we are finding, have children in heaven. Most of them have walked that road of suffering before, bleeding heart and all.
Thank goodness for the safety of a friendship with Jesus. With Him, it’s not a grief without purpose or hope. It’s not blind misery. It’s crying on the shoulder of a friend who knows the heartache you’re experiencing without having to speak. It’s pouring out your broken heart minus all the well-meaning but ill-expressed wishes or suggestions for your comfort. It’s relating to your pain without undermining it. It’s the freedom to cry over your own suffering without a weird guilt trip over feeling it too much or too little. Jesus cares deeply about our pain. He is the safest person to talk to and the safest place to release our raw emotions . If I cried like I do with Jesus to you, you wouldn’t know what to do with me. You’d be so uncomfortable you’d be anxious for me to stop or for you to get away. But Jesus is in no hurry to speed up the process of healing. If it needs to take years, He wants it to take years. If it’s better for us to heal quickly, that’s cool, too. He will gently help us get to where we need to be and not get upset (like we do) if it doesn’t happen.
When we lost Clara, I felt a deep and lasting sorrow of losing a person I truly cared about. It felt as if Rebekah or Lilian had died. I was still processing it all when we suddenly miscarried again. When we lost Isaiah I became unraveled but I didn’t feel the same degree of sadness. People deal with pain and grief in different ways at different times. I understand that now.
Jesus is the one place where we don’t have to pretend or be strong. We can be desperately honest about our fears, our confusion, and it’s ok. He covers us in our brokenness. He assures us with His steadiness, His wholeness, His perfect competence to even take an unbearable circumstance and see its completion worked out for good. He is patient. He is kind. He’s comfortable with you when you are undone. He’s never at a loss with what to do with you. You can be confident in His character. He doesn’t shrug off some things and care about others. He cares about the details.
I wouldn’t trade my seasons of sorrow for anything. I’ve come to understand the value of brokenness and suffering. I can honestly praise God in trials. I can say, “Thank You, for this hard time. I thank You because now I can see Your goodness in a light that I couldn’t see before. Now I stand in unshakable confidence in Your ability and desire to take care of me. The depth of Your love for me is so evident in this situation. I thought I knew Your love for me, but until now I didn’t know it like this. Grace was just a fluffy word that didn’t mean much before. You have met me in my darkest moment, my deepest pain. I feel secure in the midst of chaos. When nothing makes sense You are steady. You are true. You’ve somehow made this terrible experience into something beautiful.”
I used to point my finger at God and ask, “Why?” every time something bad happened. I just can’t do that anymore. I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good. He doesn’t cause my troubles. He sees me through them.