My first glance at Facebook today left me near breathless. One of my very good friends posted a picture of a baby—in black & white. It wasn’t any particular baby known to her. It was taken off the Internet—off some random site.
But the status was very, very personal. The baby—the one conceived shortly after the wedding this summer of her son and his bride—that baby never made it into the arms of the parents—or the grandparents.
And there is grief.
And there is belief.
Because babies who live and die in the womb are not just disposed of. They are gathered up and in. They are held close and rocked in the very arms of God, kept safe until someday when they will be given back—placed in waiting arms of those who weep now—who will dance for joy later.
And the very next post—right under the disclosure of miscarriage?
A gorgeous photo of a new baby boy born last week. A baby boy who we prayed over because his mama ruptured a kidney and had to have surgery and the excitement of the pending birth turned into a prayer vigil for mother and child. I read through the long list of excited, thankful comments. I read about all the blessing. Another good friend holds her grandson today and so do the arms of his thankful parents and the whole rest of the large family.
Grief and joy—in a scroll down. Is that how it all comes down? Not knowing whether to cry or smile? Or how do you do both at the same time? Is that even possible?
I don’t know.
But I do know one thing.
There is a God and God is good—no matter what—and God feels sorrow AND happiness—and God holds us always, no matter which end of the emotional spectrum we fall at any given moment.
There is a time for everything . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:4
God is not on one end of the continuum of feeling and God does not expect us to be stuck on one end either—faking our feelings—lying about the real state of our hearts—smiling on the outside when we’re crying on the inside. And yet . . .
The LORD gives and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD. Job 1:21
So here’s the thing . . .
We need to be wholistic to be holy.
We need to embrace the Man of Sorrows as well as the God of Joy.
If we’re going to be like Jesus Christ, we need to sit with the hurting, praying and listening far more than speaking, just like Job’s friends were told by God—just like WE are told be God (Proverbs 18:13) After all, the next verse tells us “A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?”
If we’re going to be like Jesus Christ, we need to look upon the painful, those hanging shreds of spirit nailed to the crosses God permits us to bear and we ought not look away because we don’t want to look at what could very well happen to us, in some fashion.
Because it will—or it has.
Loss is part of life.
And we might as well look at it straight in the face. We might as well look at Jesus hanging there bleeding out on the cross. We might as well look at Him straight in the face and see that THIS is part of LIFE—the bleeding out of hearts and the pain others bear and the pain WE bear and the ONE who died a PAINFUL death so WE might LIVE.
If we want to be like Jesus, we must look Pain straight in the face and realize THIS . . .
It is finished. He finished it. We just haven’t seen the ending. But those of us who KNOW? We believe.
Jesus Christ conquered the grave and all the pain this life brings. He did what He came to do. And He did it as a human being who has REAL feelings—just like GOD—who IS God—who wept and cried out for mercy—and still—kept—walking—all—the—way—to—His—cross . . .
And calls us to do the same.
He who bore our iniquities (Isaiah 53:11) and who daily bears our burdens (Psalms 68:19) and calls us to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). For those who love the LORD God with all their hearts, souls, and minds AND those who love others the way they would want and NEED to be loved—these are the ones who KNOW God. These are the ones who identify most closely with Christ.
So let’s dance with the rejoicing.
And let’s hold the hurting.
We have one heart.
But we have two arms.
And God loves through all.
Peace be with you, new parents and grandparents! Peace be with you, grieving parents and grandparents! HIS peace He says He leaves with us—a peace not of this world. And He promises never, ever to leave us or forsake us!
Behold, I am making all things new! (Revelation 21:5)
This is the hope and the truth we can hold in our arms—right now.