“The joke in our house is “You think you have problems?”… because we know we don’t. We have a life full of blessings. We may have sadness and grief but it is only because of the joy and love that have blessed us. I’m so thankful that I was able to grow that little angel and then spend 25 beautiful hours with her… what an amazing gift for a simple girl like me. I wouldn’t trade one minute of the joy for less sadness, I am so grateful for each of my children.”
Yes Jenni is grateful for each of her children. But the difference than other people with this same perspective, is Jenni has just delivered a baby girl Abby and after 25 hours, watched her pass away. Jenni and her husband Trever have two healthy children but their third was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 halfway through their pregnancy. Some people terminate these pregnancies; Trevor and Jenni chose to nurture her and love her and let her body develop in utero- even though they knew Abby wouldn’t survive more than a few days in the world. You can read their journey on their blog here. These people have such strength, not of their own, but clinging to faith in God. A few days after baby Abby’s passing, Jenni wrote:
“[Please pray] for our continued strength is all I can think of. That we have the strength to enjoy each day, be present and patient with our children, feel the grief when it comes and generally not hide from ourselves, our pain and our joy.”
Though they are hurting- and the hurt of a lost child knows no greater pain- they cling to the hope and power of Christ to hold them together. I’m humbled and encouraged by their example of true faith in the hardest of times.
I have another friend in our church who underwent a double mastectomy on Friday. I ran into her at church last week and she grabbed me, with tears standing at the corners of her eyes, and said, “thank you, that was the perfect message for me. We are clinging to Christ even though we don’t understand what’s next.”
See I had just preached on Colossians 2 and that Paul teaches us to have “hearts that are encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is Christ Himself.” Paul’s encouragement to ‘cling to the knowledge of mystery’ seems to be a paradox- until we acknowledge that Jesus is the one thing we can seek and cling to in this life despite the great cloud of unknowing we face when struggles overwhelm us. In the sermon, I told the story of being a new fishing guide at 13 when I took my clients 20 minutes in my boat into the fog and because of a variety of reasons, I took my eyes off of the compass. Without radar or GPS on the boat, the one navigation tool I possessed was the boat’s compass. But I let my eyes focus on the distractions instead of the one tool that could actually get me to where I was going. The dense fog, my fishing customer’s apprehension, the passing cruise ship, and a huge tide moved our boat out of position and we very nearly got very, very lost. It wasn’t until I saw a glimpse of hope in a far away shore and once again refocused on my compass, than I got to where I was going.
My point? For many of us, we take our eyes off our compass. We don’t mean to do this and believe me, it happens to us all. We allow our faith to become a Sunday ritual; our times of prayer and bible reading get laid aside for more important tasks like checking email, doing housework, or checking Facebook. But slowly, our eyes drift off the one source of life: Jesus. The bible tells us Jesus is the one compass that can lead us through life. Need to be reminded of this? Re-read Luke 7 and watch how Jesus heals people, takes pity on people misjudged in society, and is the one true source of real life. Jesus ends Luke 7 with these simple words: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Is your life one marked by Jesus’ peace right now? Are you putting faith in Him as the compass to lead you somewhere? Or are you clinging to the changing currents of hard situations or less than perfect circumstances? I know 2 women right now who are a true inspiration to me- teaching me that Jesus can still be the compass in the darkest of times. I hope their story is an encouragement to you as well.