It has been a really difficult few days. Thanks to all who called, e-mailed, and generally showed sympathy. I feel very blessed to have so many caring friends!
My older sister learned on Tuesday that she lost her baby -- I believe she was about 16 weeks along. It was especially hard for them because she had also lost a baby during her previous pregnancy.
Early Wednesday morning, as my younger brother and I headed back from our hometown, where we had been celebrating another brother's birthday, I wept for what seemed to be a very, very long time.
I mourned for my sister and brother-in-law, two of the nicest people I know, and for their children, who wouldn't have a chance to hold, care for, and get to know their new little brother. I mourned for the fragile life, so quickly snuffed out, and for my own fragile life, which could end just as unexpectedly. I mourned for lost potential, lost affection, lost time. I mourned this world's injustice, its needless pain, and the suffering it brings to the innocent.
Christ says in Matthew 5 that those who mourn are blessed because they will be comforted. But in the middle of the anguish, the doubt, and the hurt, those words are difficult to comprehend, and even more difficult to believe.
I suspect that a good portion of the comfort that is promised in Matthew 5 comes from realizing how much goodness still remains in our world. Wednesday, as I went to work, and played in the park with my nephews, and drove them to the hospital to see their parents, I was overwhelmed by how painless most of my existence is, how blessed I am with material things, and how much love surrounds me.
I know that this experience will remain with my family and me for the rest of our lives. Every time we receive an invitation to a baby shower, every time a baby cries in church, every time a child takes his first steps, we will remember the one who didn't make it. In September, when three of my sisters-in-law have babies, we will be painfully aware that we had been expecting a fourth one to be born in October.
Nonetheless, in the pain of this experience lies an opportunity for comfort. In my mind, it mirrors my spiritual redemption: If I had not realized my sinfulness, become keenly aware of how it was hurting me, and mourned the death and destruction that it brought, there would have been no repentance, no salvation, and no commitment to choose life instead of death, blessing instead of cursing. My mourning of my sin has brought me salvation, and continues to bring me closer to God.
Despite my lack of understanding of the sufferings of the past few days, I do have genuine hope that God will use them to strengthen and encourage my sister and her family. It still doesn't make any sense to me -- my sense of justice cries out that they, of all people, didn't deserve to have this happen. I know that God has control over the universe, but this seems like some kind of cosmic mistake. In the end, though, I still have to believe it will all work out to the good of us who love God and are called according to His purpose.
Death and pain are in the world because of sin, not because God wanted them to be here. And yet, through His divine alchemy, God transforms sorrow into comfort, fear into strength, ashes into beauty. My prayer is that my sister, our family, and I will be able to trust Him more each day, and to seek our strength from Him alone.