Hand in hand Travis and I walked down the halls of the maternity ward, still wondering how to handle what we had arrived to do. We passed door after door, room after room full of families who had just welcomed a new little one into their lives. Smiles and joy spilled out the doorways into the halls. My heart grew heavier, the grip between our hands tighter.
What waited for us behind the door was a family we hardly knew, a family that was saying goodbye to their new little one. We would go from practically strangers to family in this moment as we entered into some of the most sacred moments of their life. As we turned the corner, my eyes met hers. With tenderness and grace she held her lifeless son in her arms, her husband in a chair beside her, the proud daddy of a son.
I squeezed her tight and we shared quiet sobs. As she held him in her arms I leaned in to study his face. I wanted to be able to recall with her his sweet nose and perfect lips and all his delicate form and frame, knit together just perfectly in her womb. She would never look in his eyes or hear his cries and yet, in these moments, she memorized all she could of her baby boy, wrapped up in hospital blankets and more love than a heart can hold.
Why was coming alongside mommies who have to bury babies something I was doing with my life?
They proudly told us all the details of his birth and we smiled down at all 7 pounds 4 oz. of him. This baby boy who had come and gone too soon had, in that moment, without words or breath given us fresh hope for heaven and a renewed urgency to share the gospel with fervor. We talked of service plans and vowed to talk soon and after another squeeze and an unspoken understanding we left them to spend what would be their last hours on earth with their boy.
As I rounded the corner I felt my head spinning. I leaned down with my hands on my knees and gasped for air. I felt the tears rushing, heat rising up my face and the weight of Travis’ hand on my back and a pain in that part of my body that doesn’t have a name. It’s where the deepest grief and pain are stored, most of it healed by the gentle hands of God, but a little bit remains for moments like this. Moments when I can recall when I felt this way and I can remember just how desperately lost I felt, wondering how in the world I’d survive such anguish.
I remained hunched over for a minute, my head full of questions, my heart wondering why I was given such a heart-wrenching ministry? Why was coming alongside mommies who have to bury babies something I was doing with my life and how would I go about doing such a painful thing over and over and over again? As I rose slowly and my eyes met Travis’ concerned gaze it became clear. And like a Dr. being paged over the loud speaker I could almost hear my Redeemer say, this is exactly what I had in mind. I created my church for this. I died for this. I delight in watching you point each other to me in your deepest pain and most unbearable grief. I delight in seeing my bride readying herself for me in hospital rooms and funeral homes and cemeteries. Because it’s in those moments that we see God the most clearly. It’s in the pain that we see Him for who He is. I had just walked into a hospital room and right into a display of God’s glory and it was changing me.
I could almost hear my Redeemer say, this is exactly what I had in mind. I created my church for this. I died for this. I delight in watching you point each other to me in your deepest pain and most unbearable grief.
That spunky blonde mama I met while she held her baby, has become a dearest one to my heart. Our conversations are centered around heaven and forever with sons and new mercies of tomorrow and it makes my heart soar. I heard her voice on the line tonight and I can tell at her first words how she’s doing. Tonight she was full of questions and wondering and I whispered a quiet “help” to my God. After walking through the process of choosing a headstone she wept and I sat quiet. When words finally came, what spilled out took my breath away a little.
“I want you to know that it’s worth it…” I said, “..the knowing of God, the nearness of Him and the sweetness of His healing, it’s worth it. I promise.”
“I believe you.” She said, her voice confident and steady. “I believe you because you know.”
And it’s for conversations like these that Travis and I will keep walking though hospital room doors and onto cemetery lawns and into pain and grief and anguish. And it’s going to be worth all the revisited pain and fresh tears. Because we’ve given God the go ahead to peel back the bandages of our wounds for the world to see, we get the privilege of watching Him answer our prayers to use our son’s life for His kingdom and to give us opportunities to extend comfort to His people. And now I walk hand in hand on this journey of grief with Scott’s mommy, Tyler’s mommy, Hayley’s mommy, Jensen’s mommy, Mia’s mommy and so many others who have given their sweet ones back to the Lord. And they are the best traveling buddies.
God doesn’t waste pain and when He calls He supplies for every need. He is all we need.
When I wrestle with my ministry and ask God how and why, how and where to begin, I am reminded of Mordecai’s wisdom to Esther. “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise from another place.” (Esther 4:14). He is encouraging Esther to speak up in the position she’s been given but reminds her that if she chooses not to, God will provide another person for the job. And like Moses who pushes back when God gives him instructions, giving him every reason why he isn’t qualified for the job. After Moses whines for a while, God gives him Aaron to accomplish the job Moses didn’t feel capable of doing. (Exodus 4).
Esther and Moses were both handed a God-given task. The difference between them is that Esther believed God and took Him at His word and her faith moved her into action. Moses, while a faithful servant of the Lord, relied on himself to accomplish what God was asking of Him rather than trusting in an all-powerful God to bring about His perfect plans. God doesn’t waste pain and when He calls He supplies for every need. He is all we need.
So what is your story? What are the treasures you’ve found in darkness? What grief have you left in the past that can be used by a Sovereign God today? Have you given God the go ahead to make your ashes beautiful? You see, God doesn’t have to use us, but He chooses to use our brokenness to bind up wounds and proclaim freedom to those held captive by their shame and grief. (Isaiah 61:1). If you feel inadequate for the calling God has put on your life, you’re on the right track. Now turn your gaze upward, give God your yes and stand in awe of God’s work around you and through you. Tell your story! Because it’s God’s story, and it’s a perfect story of redemption that only He could write.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
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