Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tears in a Bottle

"You have kept count of my tossings; 
put my tears in a bottle."  
Psalm 56:8

In one room, the polar bear nightlight glows as he eats from a bottle he probably shouldn't still need at the age of eighteen months.  He curls his fingers around his blankee, winding his little knuckles into the gaps in the knitting until he finds his favorite corner so he can be ready to chew on it when he is finally put to bed.  If his nose stays as snotty as it has been all week, that blankee will likely be a pretty gnarly shade of disgusting come morning when I will have to pry it out of his vice grip while he shrieks at me so I can toss it in the washing machine for a quick cycle wash....just as I've had to do nearly every day this week. But then I will get to enjoy once again the gleeful grin that hits his face when it emerges fresh, clean, and warm from the dryer and I toss it to him. 

In the room across the hall, the big boys have been tucked in and chosen their cuddle partners of the evening.  Micah was torn between Mouse and Care Bear, so he has one on each side of him.  His prayer tonight thanked the Lord for pasta, Spiderman, and brushing teeth.  As for Isaiah, he has swapped out his regular pillow for his brother's bumblebee Pillow Pet and he is snuggling with Curious George....also his brother's.  He praised God for making everything and thanked Jesus for dying on the cross for our sins, but I know his little five year old mind doesn't yet grasp what that really means. 

If I was being honest, I would admit that my 29 year old mind still can't fully fathom what that really means.  Because, if Jesus came into the world to save us from our sin so we could be reunited in relationship with the God who created us and loves us beyond our understanding, how can it be that there is so much suffering inflicted upon those children? 

How can it be that my children can be nestled into their beds so securely and comfortably when I get a phone call that something terrible has happened?  In my house, my sweet boys are safe and sound.  But many many miles away, my cousin is mourning the sudden loss of his six week old daughter.

She died in the car.

That baby had just been to the doctor for her checkup and they found her to be perfectly fine.  A bit of a sniffle, but nothing to be concerned about, they said.  Her mama packed her up in the car to drive to visit Grandma and Grandpa four hours away.  They visited.  They snuggled.  They smiled.  They likely took photos with that beautiful baby.  Then her mama loaded the car back up, snapped her darling baby back into her car seat, and got behind the wheel.

While driving down the highway, her "mommy alarm" started going off and she felt something was wrong.  She hadn't heard her baby girl make any noise in a while, not even the deep breathing newborns are apt to make while they are in a state of slumber.  She pulled over to the side of the road and opened the door to the back seat.

The baby wasn't breathing.  She frantically began trying to save her daughter's life and in between rounds of infant CPR, she tried to flag down a passerby to dial 911.  Someone did stop and help her, but by the time the paramedics arrived, there was nothing they could do to bring her back.

She was gone.

Just like that.

My mother called me with this news not 30 minutes after I had put my boys to bed.  It felt like an anvil being dropped in my belly.  How does a baby just DIE while riding in her car seat?  This isn't supposed to happen!  It's so easy for me to sit here in my warm home while me kids sleep soundly nearby to talk about trusting God and believing he loves us and knowing that he has a plan to prosper us and bring about our good, but when something like this just gets hard.

I've been listening to a message series on trials by James MacDonald called "When Life is Hard."  I will tell you what, I found such encouragement and comfort in the wisdom that James communicated from God's Word. 

The world is broken.  It doesn't work right because of sin.  In God's perfect world, no six week old baby would die as she rode home from her grandparents' house.  Sin runs rampant in this world and its effects are more terrible, more devastating, and more far-reaching than we will ever understand.  The trials brought about by sin are not discriminating.  They do not only afflict those who do not put their faith in Jesus Christ, but instead they attack everyone in varying degrees.  But what James pointed out that I never thought about before was that trials are a way of showing the superiority of a life lived in Christ.  Horrible things happen to us all, difficulties will come, tragedies will strike.  But when we put our hope in Jesus Christ and share in his suffering through our trial, we can come forth through the pain...transformed. 

If there is anyone who fully understands the agony, the heartbreak, the excruciating pain of losing a child.....wouldn't it be our Heavenly Father?  Who else could better identify with the feeling of having to stand by as a precious, perfect child suffers and ultimately succumbs to the grips of death?  Who else other than He could provide comfort and hope in the face of such things? 

But that particular perfect child has won the victory over death.  He emerged from the tomb in radiant glory, declaring once and for all that death has no power over those who have been redeemed.  He has overcome the grave.  

So I will praise Him for the snotty nose getting rubbed all over the blankee.  I will praise Him for the chapped lips on the boy who refuses to stop licking the chap stick off.  I will praise Him for the snarky attitude from the mouth of the one who thought having cookies as a snack at 8:30 am would honestly fly.

Because they are not truly mine, because I only get to borrow them for but a moment, and because I need to remember to cherish every single day I have with them. 

"But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as GOLD."  Job 23:10

(P.S.  The other Scriptures that Pastor James used in his series were as follows:  2 Corinthians 12, Hebrews 12, James 1, and 1 Peter 4.)

We have since learned that they are saying that darling baby died of pneumonia.  Would you please join me in praying for my cousin and his family as they grieve and enter into a time of a terrible trial.  My cousin's name is Nathan and his wife's name is Shayla.  Their precious daughter who now is held by her heavenly Father was named Brandy Lynn.  May the Holy Spirit rush into their hearts and descend on their family, covering them with comfort and holding them as they grieve.  For we serve a God who is the Great Comforter, who feels our pain with us and keeps our tears in a bottle.  We can and we must trust that he will use every trial he allows in this world to shape us for our ultimate good, as painful as bearing up under that trial might be.

"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."  Revelation 21:4

Come, Lord Jesus.  We anxiously await that glorious day.  

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