Sunday, August 25, 2013

Uncommonly Blessed

Two years ago my first nephew was born.

His heart wasn't beating.
He was a few months early.
He had Trisomy 13...a rare chromosome disorder.

Tragedy had struck my family in a way that it never had before. In a hospital waiting room, filled with balloons and laughter as loved ones eagerly awaited the announcement of a new arrival...we waited, too.

It was a great irony.

When my brother came in to announce his arrival, I searched his face carefully. I watched as he hugged my mother, the tears rolling down his face. Colton Michael was here. Lifeless, but loved. Loved dearly.

It's been two years today.
And so we celebrated.
My sister-in-law baked a cake and we remembered Colton.

Because bad things happen.
But it doesn't mean that joy is stripped from us.
It doesn't mean that God isn't good.

Too often I fear that we demand answers. We demand understanding. We demand to have what we think we deserve. Healthy children. Well-paying jobs. Loving & faithful spouses. Security. Reliable vehicles. For things to go the way that we plan...

And when they don't?
Our response is often to be angry at God.
After all... if He is good and could He let this happen?
How could He let my nephew die?

My brother and sister-in-law continually teach me about God's goodness. They remind me that we've already been given so much more than we deserve. They remind me that we are already uncommonly blessed. That even when they know such devastating loss, they've never blamed God or been angry with Him. Instead, they've been genuinely thankful for the ways Colton's life has taught them, for the ways He has shown them more about who God is, for the ways he has changed others' lives.
Here's a snippet from their blog about Colton's story:
The other night Melissa said some amazing things. She was talking about all of the ways in which Colton's life has been a blessing to people. Not only the well in Uganda, but people have come to us and said how Colton's story has brought them closer to their spouses, their children, and to God. And Melissa said that if she had to choose between all of those good things--all of those blessings, the children in Africa who will have clean water, all of it--and Colton, she would choose Colton. Absolutely, I thought. As would I. And then, in tears, she said, "And that's why God didn't leave it up to me." 
I did not know what to say. For her to recognize God's goodness in this, even while acknowledging that it has come at the expense of the deep desires of her own heart, was one of the most touching, heart-wrenching, and beautiful things I've ever seen. I continue to be humbled by Melissa and to be amazed at her capacity to love others. I see in her the heart of Christ, who asked for the cup to be taken away, and then said, "may Your will be done."
Can we believe that God is still good in the midst of tragedy?
Can we believe that, even when our hearts are desperately aching, that He loves us...and that He knows better than us?

The loss still stings.
We still mourn his absence.
Tears fell as we sang today, knowing we couldn't hug and squeeze a two-year-old little boy and rain down love upon him in very tangible way.

I think there's much to be gained when we stop blaming God for all the bad things that happen to us in life. When we're willing to admit that maybe there's a bigger picture. When we're willing to believe that God's love is infinitely greater than our own attempts of it.

I want to trust that.
I want to trust Him.
Even in the bad.
Because the bad will happen... even when I'm the best person I can possibly be, even when I try and do everything right.

I get to choose how to respond.
I get to still proclaim that God is good.
That I am blessed.
Uncommonly blessed. No matter how bad it gets here.

Because this isn't the end of the story.
And for that I am thankful.

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1 comment:

  1. "This week I've been thinking about the lyrics to I Still Believe by Jeremy Camp:
    'In brokenness I can see that this was your will for me.'
    as I'm thinking about how broken I am because of our family, but I see how God has been changing me through it... It was God's will in brokenness I was born into our family, and it was God's will in brokenness you would never join us."

    That's part of a letter I wrote to my brother. I'm not sure how theologically accurate it is, to be honest, but I think I was trying to say what you said. There are no answers, but God still has a way of redeeming things, as he has redeemed the brokenness in my life, and I came to accept it. He did it for a purpose, so that He would be glorified, (like why the blind man was born blind.) We can't always say how God redeems things, but He seems to always make something beautiful out of the ugly, something whole out of the broken.

    I'm so glad you got to share this with your family. I visited my brother's grave again a couple weeks ago on the 12th anniversary of his "birth." But I think I am the only one in my family who ever visits, and we don't ever talk about it.

    Yet this weekend I was thanking and praising God that through the struggles some of my family has been going through lately, all of us have been a team and struggled together, and I truly felt a part of a community and a family as we went around thanking and encouraging each other. Through the struggles our love for each other only grows deeper when we stay united. And that is beautiful.

    Because our love couldn't be as strong or deep without the pain and the struggles. We wouldn't need anyone to depend on. We wouldn't extend as deep a love, or receive it from God. I'm glad God is blessing you despite the pain. His blessings never end, and maybe that's our "answer" when we want to ask why.