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On Loss and Joy

Originally written and posted on March 30, 2015

“So how many kids do you have?” It’s a common question that I get asked when others find out that I am a mom, or that the one who is with me is not my only child. Seems simple enough, right? But for those who have experienced loss of a child, it’s a question that can be a little complicated, bring a tinge of sadness, and maybe even confusion as to how to answer that. Most of us have experienced loss of a dear one on some level. My story is not unique, but I’m thankful to have this opportunity to share with you about a little girl that I gave birth to who has gone to heaven before us, and how God sustained us during a season of grief.

Rewind back to 2011 in early summer when my tummy was as big as a watermelon, and we were expecting our third child, Evelyn Claire. We were so in love with her! I vividly remember how active she was in the womb, and my husband and I would always joke that she was having a party in there. One morning, on my due date actually, I realized that I hadn’t felt the baby move in a while. I had this sinking feeling in my heart. I think I knew that Evelyn wasn’t with us anymore, but I couldn’t accept it. At the time, I had no category for something like that in my life. Those were the kinds of things that happened to other people, but not to us. I remember that I felt so stunned by the possibility of her passing that I didn’t even know what to pray for.

When that sonogram confirmed no sign of life, I crumpled under the weight of my grief. I had read about grief in fictional stories and seen it in movies, and I could never really understand how people would fall over or faint in that situation. But I understood it then. I felt like my grief, my pain, and the earth itself would swallow me whole. I felt that I could barely breathe, let alone think and process the facts. She is not with us anymore. I will never see her alive. I will never be able to rock her to sleep, braid her hair, or take her to the zoo. Worst of all: I will have to bury my child. Thankfully, the Spirit prayed on my behalf according to the Word of God that my Lord would strengthen me, because my response and my outlook in the following days and months were supernatural. It was nothing that I could have mustered of my own accord, and I praise God that I can now look back and tell of His faithfulness.

I remember that after I had received this devastating news, the sovereignty of God was the first thing that I clung to in order to get my bearings, emotionally speaking. I recall thinking, “If God wanted Evelyn to live, it would have happened.” In wisdom beyond my understanding, God had allowed these events to transpire. This was not a mistake, but a bitter experience of the cursed earth. As Christians though, we can be utterly confident that whether in the good or the bad, God is in complete control, and that He will kindly and gently lead us through whatever circumstances.

Though the pain and the grief were intense during the first few days, there was also comfort. God manifested his goodness first in allowing me to rest in His sovereignty rather than turning to doubt, for which I am very thankful because I know many do struggle. I soon quickly experienced other displays of His love for our family during this difficult time. The Bible does not promise ease for the Christian, but it does promise that His grace will sustain us for each trial. We saw church friends and the visiting summer missions team pour out their love into our family. There were prayer meetings held on our behalf, dear friends coming to pray, to weep, and to share this burden with us, and friends staying with our children at home so that Matt could be with me in the hospital. The list goes on! We were overwhelmed by His love and by the love of our dear friends and family.

I praise God because through this event, many unbelievers got to hear the gospel news. As Christians, we have such a unique opportunity to witness when trials come our way. How we respond to difficulties displays that our hearts long for something more than ease in the present. We long for heaven, for Jesus Himself, and we know that the pain and the sufferings of this life will not compare to the glory that is waiting for us in the next life. We know that this fallen world is temporary! Our treasure is in heaven and our hearts yearn to be there too. Though I wept over Evelyn because of the pain of missing her and the sting of death, I rejoice in knowing that she is already with God and that one day I will see her again in glory.

I share my story of loss and grief with you in hopes of encouraging you because this is also a story of triumph. First, Jesus triumphed over sin and the grave so that anyone who believes in Him may have the forgiveness of sins, and through this very forgiveness, we can be assured that heaven awaits us. Second, we as Christians triumph too because through suffering God draws us nearer to Him and shows that He can work this for good. Through the evil and the pain of death, there was praise. Hope, my friend, is the link that joins loss and joy. Without that hope we have nothing though we own the world. With it, we can conquer all, though we have nothing.

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