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Eden's Mirror

Looking into the mirror of God's story

Canyons

Torrential waters formed the Grand Canyon, they say. Fierce, mighty waters.

I watch your soul tormented by Canyon-forming waters too — the waters of sorrow that wet your eyes day after day.

Waters form the canyons, they say.

Your waters are doing that too.

A Canyon is not empty, it is open. Deep, wide, vast. That too is your soul. The more our tears flow, the deeper and greater we feel. Not just the sorrow, but the joys.

Our tears form canyons for love to fill, the kind of love that doesn’t package up tidy and small. No, this Love is vaster than the deepest ocean. It requires a place to flow.

I pray His love flows into all the crevices your sorrow has made, because when it does, you won’t regret the tears you’ve shed. The scars of your sorrows will be like the painted walls of the Grand Canyon, beautiful and strong, having withstood the greatest of torrents.

So stand strong in your sorrows, and let the tears flow. They are channeling the deepest cavern so that your heart may more richly know the deepest love.

In honor of a dear friend fighting hard for life and healing.

To Trust in Love

Little child, my precious girl, your heart is sad because your friends whom you love have to return to their overseas home. You don’t understand. You just want to be with them all the time!

Little child, my precious girl, I know. You love them. Love hurts, doesn’t it? It rips out your heart, when you least expect it. It tears you apart inside when it seems no one else is watching.

But little child, my precious girl, I see. And I want you to not give up on that love you have, even though it’s making you hurt right now. The temptation is to give up on love when it hurts, to silence it, numb it, don’t do it again. But little child, my precious girl, don’t ever give up on love. Because even though love hurts, it is also a bedrock you can bank on. Let me explain.

Little child, my precious girl, we don’t know when we will see our friends again, do we? That’s what makes this so hard! But here’s a question for you: do your friends love you? Is there any doubt in your mind? No, they’ve made it absolutely clear that we matter to them, they’ve made us a priority to be with in their limited time here.

Do you know what that means, my little child, my precious girl? It means you can count on seeing them again the next time. We don’t need to know when that is, because we know that they love us, and whenever it is, we can be assured they will make us a priority again. We can trust in their love for us.

Do you know it is the same with Jesus? We don’t know when we will see Him again. But we can count on it because He loves us, He made us a priority, and He cemented that reality by dying for us — you can’t love someone more than that. So we can be assured that when He comes again, He will make us a priority again.

Little child, my precious girl, trust in love, even when it hurts, because it also gives you confidence and hope like nothing else. Especially when that love is from a perfect, sinless, all-powerful God.

Death is Always Sorrowful

It used to be I only felt grief over the death of someone close to me, someone I had personal relationship with. But something in me has changed. I have come to recognize that death is sorrowful, no matter how near or far it is from you.

So for you, an old friend, whose heart was always gentle and kind — the gentlest man I have ever met — I remember you today and ache with sorrow at your death. It is your homecoming, and you are finally free of all your sufferings; but you left a wake in your departure. More than you probably knew are grieving today for our loss of your presence on this earth. I am looking forward to having an extended conversation with you in the new heavens and new earth some day. Joni Erickson Tada makes coffee dates with friends in heaven. Can we have one of those sometime in eternity? I want to hear all of how God was faithful to care for you here on this dying earth!

And to you, one of my many “Uncles” from childhood, the face of familiarity in a sea of unknowns, I remember your grin, full of jest. I remember playing human-size monopoly because you like to have fun! I remember being welcomed in your house as I played with your daughter. I always felt safe there, like I was one of your own whenever in your care. And later, years later, I watched you from afar as you poured out your life for the sake of others knowing and loving Christ. You were faithful to the end, and your example leaves a legacy. You have joined the great hall of many witnesses, urging us onward in the race home.

And to death, who has taken these two from our earth, and who knows how many more I don’t know about: you do not have the last word for those who trust in Christ. Your ending is just the beginning. So enjoy your endings for now, but know that this battle is already over, and you are literally on the losing side.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57: When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘ Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The Injustice of Our Suffering

The other day, I saw my toddler throw an epic fit: on the floor, legs kicking, crocodile tears streaming, and a surprising utterance came out of her mouth as she cried: “why?” Her cries literally sounded like she was saying “why” over and over and over again. It stunned me, because it so clearly exemplified the expression of our hearts in suffering: “why, God?”

It’s such an important question to wrestle with. In the quintessential Biblical message on suffering in the book of Job, he asks the question in multiple ways. “Why, God?” And as we know, God never answered it. And Job came away satisfied in the end. And that reality sits with us in a pit-in-your-stomach uncomfortable way.

We all ask it in times of trials. Few of us ever actually get an answer to it, try though we may.

We ask it because it feels like somehow if we could get the answer to it, if we could see the meaning and purpose of the trial, it would make it more tolerable, somehow easier to endure. But God so rarely gives us an answer.

It is a reality I am reckoning with in new ways.

You see, there is a true injustice to suffering. Sometimes people, like Nightbirdie, get cancer three times over. Sometimes people can’t have children. Sometimes your child dies. The worst case scenario really does happen sometimes, to people who have already endured so much. It isn’t fair! It isn’t right! Some people seem to get such a small share of suffering while others seem to be dogged by it their whole lives. Some children are born into good healthy families. Some children suffer tremendous abuse at the hands of those meant to tenderly care for them. It isn’t fair, it isn’t right, it isn’t okay.

I think sometimes we Christians (myself included) are so quick to rush to the “trust God” in our suffering, that we glance over the injustice in it. This isn’t the way things are supposed to be. This world ISN’T Gods best for us. We live in a fallen broken cursed world. We should expect it to be unfair.

I think if we had this expectation more, we wouldn’t become so surprised when we encounter various trials in our life. We would find ourselves rather ready to face them because we are expecting them to come, in all its ugly unfairness. And we wouldn’t get so angry at God when bad things happen, because we would know that bad things happen because the world we live in is broken. Could He fix those bad things? Yes. But He has to fix the entire world to really do it. Because He might heal Sally but leave Joe in his state if suffering, and only He has His reasons for that. That leaves a bitter taste in our mouths because it reminds us that He hasn’t resolved all the brokenness and suffering of our world yet.

But guess what? The plan for the redemption of the whole works is already in motion! It’s redemption is guaranteed by Jesus Christ coming into the world, enduring the truest form of injustice as He bore the sin and evil of our world on Himself even though He is the only human being who didn’t sin, didn’t deserve it at all, shouldn’t have had to bear the consequences of our generational sin. God is working to fix the brokenness of our world, He’s told us as much, and we can trust Him to finish what He started.

This bigger reality, this redemption plan in motion, this is our hope for the injustice in our suffering. It’s all going to be fixed some day soon. All of it. Completely. No one who trusts Jesus will be left out from that redemption. That is a hope that only has meaning when we have taken the time to really reckon with the fact that suffering only makes sense in the kind of broken, fallen, cursed world we live in.

So whatever your sorrows, however God responds to your cries for deliverance, know that the truest deliverance is still coming. You can bank on that.

Obituary

3 miscarriages, 3 babies born alive. Maybe someone will write that in my obituary some day.

Obituaries are funny things. How does one sum up a persons life in just a few short words? It doesn’t seem fair. So much life happens in even just a few short years!

But how does one write an obituary for one whose life started and ended in just a few short weeks in the darkness of the womb? One whose life we only knew existed just three days earlier. One whose life doesn’t even come with a name.

Some parents name their babies lost in the womb. We never could. I don’t even know the gender of this child, how could I name them? How can I name someone I’ve never met? Someone whose life is but a breathe?

It doesn’t seem fair. In the one sense, it isn’t fair. This child and I both had no say in this matter.

On the other hand, I am a wretched sinner, born into a cursed world. Nothing is fair here, but not in the sense you’re thinking. It’s not fair to God that we shun His loving kindness every day. It’s not fair to God that like spoiled children at a birthday party, we take His gifts without gratitude and run off to play, insisting on our own ways. It’s not fair to God that we scoff at Him, laugh at Him, shake our fists at Him even though He alone gives us the very air we breathe and the very life sustaining our heartbeats. It’s not fair to God that we ignore His beauty and call our dung-pits our greatest joy and happiness.

No. It’s not fair to this innocent child or to me that I should have to be the vessel of death for yet another child. But it’s not fair that God should tolerate the ingratitude we all cherish in our hearts toward Him.

But God is merciful. I at least got to know this child existed. This was no “chemical pregnancy”. A life was conceived and his or her human genes were detectable by our modern day technology. They existed. I have the positive pregnancy test still sitting on my bathroom sink to prove it.

And God is merciful. I asked Him to take this baby quickly if that was the plan, and He did. Just one day shy of 5 weeks gestation.

And God is merciful. If I had known my obituary would have read that only half of my pregnancies would go to term when we first started to build our family, I’m not sure I would have been able to come this far. But He gave me my beautiful Arie and beloved Heidi, before the cycle of loss began. And in between miscarriages two and three He gave me Nadia. Our child whose name means Hope. Maybe we will conceive again. Maybe we won’t. But God is merciful. And I can count on His mercy to follow me again. All the days of my life. Just like the Psalmist said:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. – Psalm 23:6

And so to my baby, I write this:

Beloved child, you are God’s. You were never mine. God gave me the honor of being the vessel of your life and death. In this way, I am honored to mirror to the world what Jesus did for us all: He who knew no sin became sin for us — He carried death in His body. Just as I now carry you. I do not know your name but I will meet you in Heaven some day. And there I will learn God’s purpose for you. For He created you and He took you home to be with Him. And that is so much the better for you anyway. I love you my cherished child. I ache for the day when I can hug you and we all can be known as we are truly known by our King. Until then, wait for me. All my love, your Mama

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