I haven’t written in this blog in awhile. I think that life gets in the way and it’s easy to put the hurting part in your heart on hold, or even to not realize it’s there.
As I have gotten farther and farther from the day when we lost our precious baby, I have gotten farther and farther from the place where I felt like I must write down my feelings or I would explode with grief.
I’m not exploding now, but I am being reminded that grieving is not a brief experience in one’s life. It’s a process. And like so many processes in our walks as human beings, we find ourselves sometimes going backwards, or at least stopping for awhile and not going forward anymore.
The sadness has been coming back to me quite a bit lately, in spite of the joy of life with my two boys, my husband. In spite of the healing that I thought was happening quite nicely, thank you very much. So I feel the need to write again, and I have come back to this blog, this place where I pour out my heart in words, to tell you about the child we lost.
We named him Elijah. We were so convinced this one was a girl, but in the midst of our grief we saw the irony and even the silliness in the fact that this third child of ours was also a boy. I was so glad we could find out his sex. To me it brought some closure, although I don’t think there ever is closure when you lose a child. Maybe closure isn’t the right word, even, but it was good to know. One of the tests they ran to see if they could figure out why our baby died was a chromosome analysis, and one of the things they see with those tests is the gender of the baby. About a month after he died, we got a phone call. There was nothing wrong chromosomally. And the baby was a boy.
The Sunday before we learned that our little son’s heart had stopped beating, our pastor spoke about the prophet Elijah. There was a famine in the land, so God sent him to live near a brook so he would have water and food. But the famine lasted for a long time, and eventually the brook dried up. And still Elijah waited. He watched every day as the steam became a trickle, and as the trickle became stagnant pools in a dry creek bed, and as even the pools evaporated. He watched as the animals stopped coming to the brook to drink, as his food source disappeared.
And still he waited.
I don’t know if I could have done that. As soon as that brook started drying up I think I would have been justifying my actions in leaving, going to find somewhere else to live. But Elijah’s faith brought him through that dark time, and finally, when the brook was completely dry, God spoke to Elijah and told him to leave.
God sent Elijah to the house of a widow, of all people. Widows in ancient Israel were certainly not the people you would go to if you needed food and drink in a famine. They had no way to work and often were very poor. This widow was no different; in fact, she had only enough food for one more small meal for her and her son. God worked a miracle through this situation, but look at it for a moment from Elijah’s perspective.
He had trusted God and waited by the brook. Life had gotten harder and harder, the animals had gotten further and far between, the water had gotten dirtier and dirtier. Still Elijah waited. And if he was like me, while he waited he was thinking in the back of his mind “Wow, my faith is really something else. It’s awful to wait here but I know when this is over God is going to bless me richly.”
Okay, maybe Elijah didn’t think that. But I sure do when I’m in a situation where my faith is being tested. Isn’t it amazing how even at our points of utter dependence on God, when we should be completely humble before him, our pride creeps up? “As long as I have faith in this, God will reward me and bless me and everything will be rosy.” I am constantly reminded that God does not bless me because of anything I do; He blesses me because He is good.
But I know that if I had been Elijah, waiting there every day, resisting the temptation to just walk away from God’s plan for me, and then God had said “Go stay with a widow,” I would have not been a happy person. Doesn’t God know that at the end of hard times there’s supposed to be easy times? Doesn’t He know that I simply can’t take more difficulties in my life? Doesn’t He get it?
Of course He gets it. Of course He knows my feelings, my heart, my sorrow. I wonder when Christ started to feel like He “couldn’t take it anymore.” Just the horror of being confined to a weak, fleshly body after eternity as unlimited God must have been torment in so many ways. To walk among the sinful, the sick, the perverse, the miserable, after the holiness and purity and perfection of eternal existence in heaven? To allow Himself not just to be spoken to, but to be touched, and to touch, and all that before He even reached the Garden and asked His Father to allow this cup to pass from Him. I think that was Christ’s way of saying “I don’t think I can do this.” But out of love, He just did. He let them mock Him, beat Him, curse Him, and crucify Him. They humiliated Him and killed Him and He willingly allowed it to happen because He loved me. No other reason. Nothing but love could cause God to allow that to be done to Him.
So I believe that the Lord knows exactly how we feel when we reach the end of ourselves, of our ability to cope. And I believe that He knows exactly what He is doing when He then asks us to take a step further, and another. He asked it of His Son. He has every right to ask it of us.
And Elijah did exactly what God told him to. He didn’t question or complain, he just went from one scary, hungry situation to another. And God did bless him, in the end, although maybe there weren’t as many earthly blessings as Elijah might have hoped for. It’s not the earthly blessings that we live for, is it? It shouldn’t be. Life is so short, but we have eternity ahead. I think maybe Elijah understood that. This grief, this fear, though it lasted his entire life, would be completely blotted out by the joy of eternity with God.
Elijah’s name means “God is the Lord.” It is a beautiful reminder of God’s providence, of His plan being the best plan because He is the One in charge. I loved the name before we found out we had lost our son. Once we learned he was a boy, Elijah seemed like the only possible name choice.
Our Elijah didn’t have to make the choices every day that the prophet had to make. The choice to go on and trust God’s plan, no matter where it led. God’s plan for Elijah’s life was very brief. Just a few weeks of a beating heart, and then heaven. I grieve, but what a privilege for my son. He’s already there, waiting for the rest of us to catch up with him.
And his life, which left so little mark on this world, left a mark in my heart–
God is the Lord.