I felt grossly underprepared for the road of suffering.
To be fair, even if someone had warned me I am quite certain I would not have even remotely understood what they were talking about. How can you tell someone who has never really known suffering the reality of how it will be?
I think the roots of my under preparedness reached all the way down to the beginning of my spiritual journey, to the days in Sunday School when the stories the teacher narrated from her flannel board were filled with miracles – always miracles. Noah and his family were saved, Sarah conceived after decades of barrenness, Moses led the people safely across the dry ground of the Red Sea. And the New Testament held similar stories. The lame walked, the lepers were healed, the dead child raised to life. Miracles, always miracles. It seemed that the believer’s faith, while tested, would always end with miracles.
So what was I supposed to think about my own faith journey when God made it very clear that a miracle would not be a part of my story?
All my life until Evie’s diagnosis I had believed the spirit of Romans 8:28, that all things work together for good, meant that things would always be good. Good as in, pleasant and right and comfortable for me. I have come to realize the importance of the last part of that verse which says all things work together for good … according to God’s purpose. It’s this ultimate good, this saving of much people alive, that guarantees that all things that happen to us can be counted as good. Because God, as a good Creator, calls them good and can bring good even out of the deepest pain for the benefit of His Kingdom.
But what are we to do when we can’t see the good for all the pain surrounding us?
When I am struggling to find answers I look to the life of Jesus, to see what He did. And not in the cheesy, late-90s, multicolored cloth bracelets with W.W.J.D. embroidered on the side kind of way. I mean to really, truly look to the example of Jesus to see how this God-Man lived out the truth of His Father’s word while He walked in flesh among us.
Christ endured the greatest suffering the world has ever known. The wrath of Almighty God poured upon His humanity as He hung, brutalized and bloody, on the old rugged cross. And when God was satisfied that reparation had been made for every single sin, past, present, and future, Jesus took His final breath, His lifeless body placed in a tomb, and there it stayed for three whole days.
I’m sure friends and followers of Jesus who had looked expectantly for a miracle started to have some real doubts about the Father and the Son during those three emotionally daunting days.
The same was true for me as it became increasingly clear that my unborn daughter was not going to be coming home with us. I wondered why the God who could do miracles decided this particular story didn’t deserve the stamp of “miraculous.” How could this lack of a miracle situation be called good?
It was because I was still looking at day two without the full understanding of what would come on day three.
On day three Jesus’s body, once brutalized and breath long gone, was raised to new life to be seated at the right hand of Father God and live with Him in glory forever. The miracle of day three is a miracle that is for all eternity.
And so it is with my story.
The rest of my life here is like living on day two, the reality of two precious loved ones’ deaths always fresh in my mind. God chose not to give me a miracle like He does with some. Not one I can hold testament to here anyway. But my story – their stories – don’t end there.
For some the miracle happens here on earth. For some, they can give testimony to tumors disappeared, of marriages saved, of wombs opened after years of being closed. But for some, like me, we are left to hope for the miracle of day three, a miracle we cannot see here but hope and believe with all our hearts to experience one day.
I am tempted to say that the story of my babies didn’t include a miracle. It’s true their stories didn’t include a miracle I can testify to here and now. But their stories do in fact hold a miracle. A miracle of being raised to new life, of new bodies received that were unknown to them here on earth. And while that sort of miracle might look so much different than the ones I’d heard about in Sunday School as a little girl with bouncy pigtails and shiny white dress shoes, it is a miracle nonetheless and one that brings me hope and joy as I take each step of the rest of my journey here.
The hope of day three and the joy of seeing their sweet faces again because it’s coming. No man knows the exact hour, but we know it for certain.
Day three is coming.