Monday, December 21, 2015

but if not

In this week of waiting--waiting for God with us, for the birth of a baby sent from perfect love--my heart has been heavy. A law school friend and his wife said goodbye to their precious two-year-old son last week. He was just a few months older than Shepherd. From photos, you could tell that he had a playful spirit, adored his big sister, and was deeply loved by his mom and dad. My heart is so grieved for them. I truly cannot imagine their pain. The thought of continuing life without one of our children is so unthinkable, so crushingly unfair. Yet even in the midst of their heartbreak, this family's faith has been astoundingly evident.

When faced with the fiery furnace in Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego responded: "If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” But if not. But if not, we will remain faithful. But if not, we will still believe in God's deep love for us. But if not, we will still cling to our Lord. 

We all have "but if not" moments in our lives. Some are small, some are large, but everyone has pleadings that seem to go unheard. I need so much work on my "but if not" response. I wish I could say that I am always certain, that on dark days when the world makes no sense I still begin my morning with words of praise. But that's just not true. My "but if not" takes time still. For me, sayings and platitudes offer no comfort. Instead, in my doubt and wrestling, I have found the greatest comfort in resting in the mystery. So much of what we believe as Christians, or as followers of any religion, is based in mystery--truth that is hidden in God. And while it seems a bit oxymoronic, my analytical self finds solace in the mysteries of our faith. The mysteries of new mercies each day, of grace upon grace. The mysteries of forgiveness and love personified. For me, there is comfort in the concept that we are are not supposed to understand.

I am so inspired by this family's response in their unimaginable "but if not" moment. I pray that the mystery of God's grace and mercy continues to surround them in a way we cannot understand. And I pray that both their pain and their perseverance will remind me of how lucky I am. Yes, days with four little ones can be tough, but not nearly as difficult as a day without them. I keep going into our bathroom and looking at our towel hooks. Four hooks for four towels for four precious heads. And during this week of waiting, this week filled with anticipation, I wait beside them in their grief and and I wait, full of renewed gratitude and wonder, for the birth of our King. 

"In the dark, in the doubting, when you can't feel anything, oh His love remains the same."
- Ellie Holcomb

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