It has been a rough week. Too many young people died. Too many families lost a loved one. Too many mommas are left with broken hearts. Let me take a break from sharing our experiences in Greece to share my heart concerning two losses that occurred this week.
The first happened right here at Tenwek Hospital. A Kenyan missionary from our church here on the compound serves a people group in northern Kenya. She is a widow, and has been for a long time. She has only two children: one boy and one girl. They are young adults. This week, her only son died at Tenwek. I don’t know all the details, and I certainly don’t understand all the cultural differences between Americans and Kenyans. But my heart breaks for his momma. She left to visit her ‘people’ in the morning because her son had stabilized. Then, that afternoon he took his last breath without a his mother by his side. My heart cries Why? Lord, why did you take her away from him? Why did you take him away from her? How is this bringing you glory?
My head must remind my heart that God is sovereign and He is good. All the time. He ordained this, and He will be honored in it. More than usual, because of my lack of understanding of this culture, I will not see all the ways God will use this. I just have to trust that He will use it. To make matters worse, the death of this only son brings about a lot of legal issues for this momma. With no husband and no son, she and her daughter may loose her land and/or may need to purchase the land from the husband’s family. Again, I don’t know all the details of the way this culture works. I just know that it’s very different from min and that this woman has a lot on her plate. Please pray for her!
The second family isn’t as close to home, but somehow it hits closer to my heart. Many of you read the blog I shared on our facebook page. The Sauer family lost their five-year-old son, Ben, this week. I won’t share too much of their story, for you can read their blog at bensaucer.blogspot.com if you want to learn more. My heart breaks for this family. Ben has a twin brother, a young sister and another sister on the way. As I struggle with the tension of joy over the new life developing inside of me and the sorrow over a loss of my own, I so relate to this momma’s heart. How do you reconcile such joy and sorrow? How can one heart handle two opposite emotions at the same time? How can I feel both? How can I not?
There has been a tension in my heart since Hannah went to heaven. I look at my boys and I’m so thankful for them. But at the same time, my heart is so sad that Hannah isn’t here. My family picture can never be complete. No matter how full the picture frame gets, no matter how many children God blesses our family with, it will never be complete. I choose to rejoice in what I have, but I long for what I’ve lost. Will there be a day when my heart doesn’t hurt? Right now, I hope my heart never heals completely. Yes, I want it to be perfect and complete…in heaven. But I don’t want to get over Hannah. I don’t want to forget her, to replace her, to loose the emptiness in my heart that her absence created.
I was going to share this later in a Greece post, but I think it’s appropriate here. I met two ladies at the CMDA conference who had lost children. Each lady has a unique story but both have lived more than 10 years without a child. It was so encouraging to speak to them. Like I said before, I had a really hard time in Greece. Grief overwhelmed me on more than one occasion.
When I was speaking to the first lady I met, I didn’t want to hear her say, “But it doesn’t hurt anymore.” Oh, how that broke my heart to hear that this pain will be gone! On this side of heaven! Then, a few days later, when the grief had subsided a little, I experienced the highlight of the conference. A woman told us her story of loosing one child and then God calling her and her family to adopt 8 more children. To date, she has 10 living children! With my heart not quite as raw, I was encouraged to see how God can continue to use someone as broken as me to do His good work. As many of you know, Aaron and I have felt called to adoption for almost as long as we’ve been married. Her passion for God, for obeying God no matter what, and for adoption was captivating, inspiring and contagious. As soon as she was done talking, I looked at my friend (who also has a heart for adoption) and said, “So, where are the papers?” (referring to adoption papers). We were both ready to take babies home that day!
I left the conference with a new hope that God still has a lot of work for me to do. I’ve known this all along, but these two women reaffirmed this truth. Yes, I’ve lost a child. Yes, my heart is still broken and hurting. Yes, I could loose more children or other bad things could happen to me. BUT, God is bigger. God is sovereign. God is good. AND, He has a plan for the remainder of my days. He can take a broken vessel like me and turn me into something beautiful. He’s been working on me, one of his masterpieces (see Ephesians 2:10), for many years. For too many reasons, most of which I’ll never understand, He needed to break me by taking my daughter from me in order to finish the masterpiece. In the remaining days I have on earth, I can choose to either work with God in transforming me into something beautiful or work against Him. If I work against Him, I’ll turn into a bitter old woman who hasn’t done anything more to serve God. If I trust Him and allow Him to continue His work in me, I’m confident that I’ll be as radiant as the women I met at the conference.
For now, the tension remains. Joy or sorrow? Holding on or letting go? Either way, I’m resting in my knowledge that heaven is for real, that my daughter and these precious ones that were taken home before and after her are healed and happy, and that I will get to join them when my ordained days are up. Today, I’ll be content with baby steps…one baby step at a time…until I meet my Maker.