“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
I Corinthians 15:55
About a month before Noah was born, my grandfather passed away. Five weeks after Noah’s birth, Aaron’s father died. Then, only a few short months after that, my grandmother joined her husband in heaven. It was a time of great grief. I remember thinking how can I delight in my newborn when all this death is surrounding me? Of course, I did find joy in my little blonde bundle of cuteness, but it wasn’t without mourning, guilt and internal struggle.
Then, about 2 years later, as Aaron and I contemplated having a second child, all those feeling flooded back. I remember crying out to God, really wrestling with Him, over the conception of another child. I pleaded, “God, if people have to die every time I have a baby, then please don’t let me have any more children.” I just couldn’t bear the thought of who might die and how my life would be impacted.
God gave me peace after all that wrestling and crying. We conceived, but then I bled. I seriously thought I miscarried Jacob. I immediately questioned God’s provision and plan. What in the world is He doing?? Fortunately, all the anxiety was for nothing, and Jacob was healthily growing in my womb. 8 months later, he was born perfectly healthy but 5 weeks early. No one died. We thoroughly enjoyed our second bouncing baby boy and delighted in being a family of 4.
Two years later, we welcomed a third boy, Levi, into our family without a thought of what might happen.
And 18 short months later, Hannah was born. I won’t go into her story, but you can read it in this previous blog post. I’ll just say that her conception, birth, life and death were clearly and painstakingly ordained my our Creator God.
Now, at this phase of life, I find myself back in a time of great grief…but this time there is no new life.
As you all know, Hannah left us for her forever home 6 months ago. Since then, both of Aaron’s grandmothers have joined our daughter in heaven. While we anticipated missing their last moments here on earth and subsequent memorial services, we are sad that we couldn’t say proper good-byes or be with our families during this time of mourning. We are jealous that they’re dancing with our princess. We feel the sting of death.
The Bible says in I Corinthians 15:56 that “the sting of death is sin.” That’s not the sting I’m talking about, but sin is the reason I’m feeling stung. Sin is the reason death exists. Sin is the cause of cancer, disillusions, illness and suffering. Because of all these (and many more) things, we feel a sting to the core when some one we love leaves us. Even when we know without doubt that they are going to heaven, it still hurts.
BUT, this passage goes on to say, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (v57-58)
Although this period of deep grief is harder and without a new life to bring comfort and hope, we still have comfort, hope and so much more. This time, my faith is stronger. This time, I have the first valley experience to draw from. I know, from personal experience, that God is sufficient and faithful and trustworthy. I know that crawling out of the valley is painful and difficult but it will happen. This time, I have a huge support system to help me carry the burden of mourning. This time, I know my Creator more intimately. I know He’s the keeper of promises. He is the Lover of my soul, the Lifter of my head, my Rock and Redeemer.
While this latest death makes me ache for heaven even more, I will set my eyes on Jesus, the Maker of the heavens and earth. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, He watches over us, loves us and protects us. I believe it because that’s what His Word says.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Praises and Prayer Requests:
1. Please continue to pray for the people in Nairobi who have been wounded in the terrorist attack on Westgate Mall.
2. Praise God that no one from Tenwek was shopping at Nakamutt at Westgate this weekend! We all shop there frequently, so it’s God’s protection that we weren’t there during this violent attack.
3. Praise God that the co-op is running smoothly. Miss Lisette is here and taking over many teaching responsibilities this week. I’m sure she’d appreciate your prayers as she adjusts to her full schedule.
4. Praise God that I no longer teach second grade science or math! It was a big decision for me to give up teaching Noah math, but I thought it was best for him to try to learn from another person. (We’ve been having discipline issues in math class, and I’m hoping it was because mommy was the teacher. We’ll see how he behaves and learns from someone else!)
5. Please pray that Noah will be able to focus in class. He’s doing so well one-on-one with me, and he really loves being in class with his 3 classmates. However, his ADD tendencies are rearing their ugly heads. Please pray that he’ll be able to learn coping mechanisms and that he won’t be a discipline issue for Miss Lisette.
6. Please pray for godly wisdom as we decide whether or not to purchase a vehicle. It makes sense to do so, but it is very expensive. Pray that God will make it abundantly clear what we should do.
7. Praise God that Aaron has had no more migraines. We are both exercising and feel so much better as a result!