Loss upon Loss, Grieving Upon Grieving
Last summer, as many of you will remember, our daughter and son-in-law gave birth to their first-born, a little girl named Molly, who only lived seven short days. Her life was brief from our perspective, yet she gave a mighty performance, influencing thousands as God used her and spoke to us of His great love and mercy and grace.
Now, 11 months later, Rebecca and Jacob are facing the loss of another child—their second baby’s heart stopped beating two weeks ago while still in utero. Again we are stunned. We are in disbelief. It feels once more that God is asking too much of these two parents.
Dennis and I flew to be with them immediately. And now we are waiting for the necessary travail of birthing this 14-week-old baby. Waiting seemed to be so much of what we did last summer with Molly, knowing she would not live long, and now we are waiting with Rebecca and Jake again knowing this infant is not alive, but has already been taken to heaven.
And once again we are thrown to our faces before God for any glimpse of Him. Rebecca wrote on her blog two days ago a verse she and I used in the book we’ve just written on Molly’s life, A Symphony in the Dark. It’s John 6:68: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” If you’d like to read her posts since they learned of this baby’s death, click here.
Someone recently told Rebecca of her own experience with the loss of a child and she said to Rebecca, “It’s not going to happen again. God wouldn’t ask you to go through this again, He just won’t.” That incident occurred at the beginning of Rebecca’s second pregnancy and even then Rebecca knew it was a statement given with good intention, but poor theology. We cannot presume to know what God will or will not do.
So this morning I found myself reading Job again.
Shall we indeed accept good from God and not adversity? In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
I thought about how willingly I accept good every day from God often without a word of gratitude. From the air I breathe to food and clothing and shelter and rain and sunshine and friends and family and jobs and technology and gifts and so much more. We are showered with good things every day. But when adversity shows up we feel we have a right to complain, to charge God with not intervening as if He were merely our servant. In this pronouncement to Rebecca I sensed the arrogance of the human heart, which we all possess.
However, God’s word reminds us that:
Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.
How quickly we blame God in our generation as if we know what is best.
In the last chapter of Job is another statement that jumped to my attention. His family and friends came to him and ate with him and comforted and consoled him for “all the adversities that the Lord had brought on him” (verse 11). The source of the adversity is God Himself. God is in control, yet this story clearly teaches that He allowed these terrible losses and pain and grief to come upon Job. And He never tells Job why.
The book of Job closes with the sentences describing the blessing of Job with more children and wealth than he had before his sufferings began. Jacob and Rebecca have yet to see that part of their story, but we and they believe in God in the midst of this present suffering and we have hope that He will bring the blessing of children to them in His timing.
The words of the Bible are true even when used in cliches by those who mean well in wanting to give help to those who suffer like Job and Jacob and Rebecca. Today Rebecca is posting on what they have learned about how to give comfort and encouragement to those who are grieving as they are. They have learned much both from those who have done it well and from those who have spoken rashly and arrogantly.
Two weeks ago Rebecca and Jake’s pastor spoke on the topic, “Don’t Waste Your Pain” and showed a video featuring Rebecca and Jake’s story about Molly. At the time their second baby was still alive and growing. All of us are given pain in this life and more is yet to come.
God brings adversity for reasons we will likely never know, but our responsibility is to respond as Job did—to accept adversity as well as good from His hand, to believe He is always good, and to trust Him in the middle of the pain.
That is what Job did.
That is what I’m watching Rebecca and Jacob do again. They have been given grief upon grief and in the midst of it they are believing in God by faith.