Death, Grief, and God

Hello Church! 

I wanted to share a bit of faith with you, but I’m not sure I am up to speaking in front of the congregation quite yet.  So I hope you take a moment to read this and find something applicable for your life from it.

First – a huge thank you for being the church in prayer and support during our family’s difficult time.  Rhys thanks everyone who brought us brownies – he’s still working on them out of the freezer, 🙂 and I know Geoff was delighted to see so much delicious food brought in for us.  And your prayers of healing are immeasurably valuable.

And now the harder stuff…

No one EVER desires for their child to die.  No one signs up for this kind of path through life.  And certainly no one would believe it if God offered it and suggested it would be a blessing… myself included.

That afternoon when I went to my appointment, we were in the final prep for Gryfn’s arrival.  I had felt really weird that morning, but was at church all day working on Christmas Eve.  As soon as the ultrasound tech pulled up the screen, I saw it – there was no heartbeat registering.  I couldn’t wait to get out of that office.  In fact, my doctor had to call me and ask me to come back because I bolted before we were finished.  All I could think of was the simple prayer – “make this not be true, God.”  I honestly believe in a God of miracles, a God of power and life.  So I asked Him, “make this a miracle, bring this baby back to me.”  

As you already know, baby Gryfn did not come back to life, and we delivered him overnight that night – born early the next morning.  He was perfect.  Beautiful… looked like his older brother, Rhys,… just not alive.

I had realized, of course, minutes after the prayer for a miracle was not delivered, that I had to make some serious decisions about how I was going to walk with the Lord through this.  As we waited in the hospital, I prayed for God to reveal to me HIS purposes and HIS hope through this.  As a former atheist, choosing unbelief and demanding my own way is an option I have taken off the table for myself, but this situation was truly the valley of the shadow… and I needed God to take me by the hand and show me how He was good and triumphant, and how He was providing in the midst of this dark place.  I believe in the resurrection faith of Jesus, I believe in His word and promises… now I needed to see it.

And immediately He started to show me.  For the last few weeks, I have spent many hours, many beautiful, peace-filled, often tear-filled moments leaning into something I don’t understand and can’t explain in the simple and rational terms I prefer to bring to you when I speak.

It has been the most beautiful time of my life with the Lord.  The pain is raw, the loss is real, but pain is confined here to this flesh and this material earth, and this trapped in time existence.  God has shown me glimpses beyond this flesh and matter and time, and I can tell you truly, I am at peace.. and feel even, dare I say it, privileged by what God has revealed.  My heart is patched up with God’s love and care and hope.  My mind has been opened by revelations that I will hold gently and gratefully as sacred.  And I am not in torment or struggle or despair.

But there is a discomfort by walking so close to that which lies beyond this earth.  The things of this world seem impossibly hard to grab and value in contrast.  As many of you know, I have spent my adult life very ambitious, even to the point of being a bit of a workaholic… and this church was founded on and has benefited from that drive.  However, now I am like an egg cracked open, and the shell that let me pound away at the work of this is just not available to me right now.  I don’t really know how to reintegrate into the activities of the church in the world – so for now I am waiting for God to show me if it is still an open door for me.  For those of you who have stepped forward to carry this load- thank you, I am so grateful.  The church is infinitely stronger because of you.

And here is what I hope you take away from this for you, we ALL will arrive at the valley of the shadow of death.  Some of you are already there, you have walked through the death of a loved one, you have received the terminal diagnosis, or you have held the weapon to end it all yourself.  My hope for you is that you will reckon this faith we pursue as worthy of your ENTIRE trust.  I can’t think of anything on earth to lean into in a situation like this that will not shatter under the pressure. And I now know without any doubt, and hope you find out as well, that God is worthy of our trust and our hope!  Jesus did not walk his suffering path for naught. He did not overcome death to life for a trivial punchline. This is not the stuff of nonsense, this faith in what we cannot physically see, is the thing that is most true of anything we have every known.

But like all things, it is up to us to each to pursue or reject.  I am so grateful that the last decade of my life has included intense study of scripture, prayer, worship, and leaning into Jesus – not because I am somehow “so good” to have done it, but because I was truly and totally lost without it, and because I know that this story would be a very different situation without my Lord and my Love as the center and the punchline.  Arriving in the valley often is totally unexpected…

All glory and honor and praise to Him. Holy, holy, holy is He!

Amen & love in Christ,

Marissa


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