Beyond the Fire

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. Two years ago, I wrote this post to mark Ash Wednesday. It was a time of great personal sorrow in my life. When I was really struggling with the question of, Why would God allow this to happen? Lent isn’t exactly the answer to that question but it is a season that reminds us that we have a God who does not leave us alone in our sorrow. We worship a God who has suffered and wept and experienced loss. Despite living my whole life surrounded by Christianity, I had never so profoundly realized what it meant to follow a God who lost a child.

Last week marked one year from our trip to BC Women’s Hospital where we were told that our unborn child’s heart had not developed properly. It’s been almost a year since I went into Vancouver to await the birth of our baby, not knowing what that would look like. Almost a year since our beautiful girl was born. Since the moment that Peter brought her back to our hospital room, placed her in my arms and said, “The cardiologist says her heart is 100% healthy.”

Two years ago I cried in the street outside my doctor’s office after he gently informed me I might never be able to bring a pregnancy to full term.

Just over one year ago, I cried in our car, in the parking lot outside the hospital, full of uncertainty about our family’s future.

And almost one year ago I cried with thankfulness to have a fully healthy baby.

God has been good. He was good on this Ash Wednesday two years ago and He has been good to me every day since. And oh, how good He was on the day, two thousand years ago, when He Himself cried in the Garden of Gethsemane and accepted the plan for our salvation that involved His torture and death.

Last year, about this time, I was reading Timothy Keller’s Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering and this quote really spoke to me:

Suffering can refine us rather than destroy us because God Himself walks with us in the fire.

He is a God who says, “I know. You are my beloved and I know what you suffer.” He is a God who has suffered too. He will not abandon us.

Lent is a somber season followed by great rejoicing. It is a cause for great celebration because death is not the end. We are not alone.

Pearl and her tiger, Stripes, who was given to her in celebration of a healthy heart
Pearl and her tiger, Stripes, who was given to her in celebration of a healthy heart

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