On Mourning

onmourning

My wife – Hannah – and I were excited. We exchanged jokes and talked about parenting and how 6 months felt like an eternity and just around the corner at the same time. October 15th: our baby’s due date.

We were going to be meeting our midwife for the first time. Hannah has trained to be a doula and really wanted a low intervention birth. Of course, I support her in this and was eager as well to start our journey towards delivery.

We meet Lori, our midwife. She was so very sweet and encouraging. As we ended our time together she asked us if we wanted to hear our baby’s heartbeat. She asked if I wanted to record it. I got my phone out ready to hear that precious thumping. After a few moments our midwife’s concentration became a grimace. “The baby must be hiding, I’m not hearing a heartbeat.”

Hannah’s hand gripped mine tightly. “I’m gonna grab the ultrasound machine,” she says.

She returns. The lights go down, and she begins concentrating on the screen. “I’m not very good at this,” she says. Soon another midwife enters and takes over.

“I’m so sorry. There is no baby. It’s likely your body re-absorbed the fetal tissue or you’ve partially miscarried.” Hannah’s grip grew tighter and my heart sank.

We wait as they arrange for us to go to the other side of the hospital. As we wait both of us collapse into tears. Our hearts shatter.

We had a formal ultrasound, confirming our worst fears…we had lost our baby. No answers from the doctors…only options. Waiting, a shot, a procedure.

We are utterly devastated.

Why? How? Our confusion medically and likewise leads us to deep sorrow.

Tragedy is a horrible thing. We try to only see tragedy from a distance. We read of it in the news, and we hear of it in our circles. But we all seek to avoid it. No one calls grief a great friend.

Yet throughout this day as my heart has shattered, I remember in my suffering to remember the suffering servant.

We’ve talked all day long, owning our grief. Facing our pain. Hannah said to me, “It helps to think that God lost his Son too.” Indeed, this is a great comfort.

Yet throughout this day as my heart has shattered, I remember in my suffering to remember the suffering servant.

We just celebrated Easter. The great hope of my faith. That Jesus is no longer in a tomb but living and reigning as the King of kings.

Jesus was one who suffered more than I can comprehend. His suffering in those moments seemed trivial… pointless.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)

Jesus tasted bitter suffering – for my sake – in those moments while he breathed his last. His followers had to have thought they were witnessing the worst possible moment of their life. Their teacher, the one they had given their life to was being crucified. He was naked and bear for all to see his suffering, to watch his last gasping breath.

Yet, this act is the greatest display of love in human history.

They would have uttered, “How could anything good come from this?!” They had no idea the goodness that flowed from the blood of the suffering servant.

Yet, this act is the greatest display of love in human history.

This good teacher, whose heart was pure and full of grace, displayed true humanity… yet still he faced an unbearable punishment. He did this, scripture tells us, that we might be given his righteousness.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

This means he suffered that we might be made right with God. That we might have hope as he makes all things new.

Anyone who is familiar with the New Testament writings knows of the Apostle Paul. Paul is one who is familiar with suffering.

“…with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?” (2 Corinthians 11:23–29)

Paul knew suffering. From moments like this to his infamous, “thorn in the flesh,” Paul speaks of suffering often.

To suffer is to be human. Yet Christ has given my suffering purpose.

Paul speaks of suffering in this way:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

To suffer is to be human. Yet Christ has given my suffering purpose.

Paul compared the Christian to a jar of clay. An cracked earthenware vessel that contains glory.

Kristen Wetherell speaks of these cracks saying, “Our cracks exist for a purpose: to shine forth the gospel, our treasured possession even—especially—in our pain. We display and proclaim his light through our unique “cracks.” And what an opportunity this is.”

This crack is deep and painful. But the joy of Hannah and I’s heart is the hope of Christ.

Our faith tells us that our suffering is temporal.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”

(Revelation 21:1–7)

Though my heart aches at this loss… it reverberates with the hope of, “someday.”

In all my pain I can tell you that this hope causes my heart to rejoice even in the moments of difficulty. Why? Because Jesus is more than enough. He has and is making all things new.

Though my heart aches at this loss… it reverberates with the hope of, “someday.”

Maybe you know me or Hannah, but don’t share our faith. My hope is that you would see that even in the deepest possible pain, we rejoice in him. That even if it seem strange to you, you would know where our hope is.

We mourn. Our hearts broken. But nothing is wasted… He works all things for good.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

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