All I could do was cry. Cry for Charlie. Cry for the Baers. Cry for every person on this planet who has lost someone. It was quite a sight – some red-headed chick bawling her eyes out in front of a Buffalo Wild Wings. “Why, Lord? Why does there have to be so much hurt? Why did Charlie leave so soon? You could have healed him.” Quickly the sorrow turned to anger. It was surreal in some ways, like experiencing the full span of the grieving process in a few minutes. How I ached for my friends.
Within minutes of Josh’s call, I was on the phone with my mom and in the hugging arms of my dear friend, Cathy (she’s practically my big sister…love her to pieces!) Both these godly women gave me such comfort, reminding me of what I already knew but emotions blocked at the moment. God is good. He is always good. He loves the Baers and my family so much. He loves little Charlie just as he loves every child He creates. And because of what we went through with our son, we could now come alongside this family as they begin the grieving journey. “Comfort others with the comfort you yourself have received.” Once again, amidst the tears and sorrow, I experienced the promised comfort of the Holy Spirit, that “peace that surpasses all understanding.” (Phil.4.7)
As the days have passed, I’ve pondered over and again the homecoming of these two sweet boys and heartache in general. At its core, it is simply part of the human experience as we are mortal beings living in a fallen world. Loss is part of life. While it comes in various forms at varying seasons, loss is loss. It hurts. It changes you, whether for the better or for worse.
During our drive back from Myrtle Beach for church on Sunday, my mind was racing with these thoughts, asking God to make further sense of it all for me. We pulled up to Journey right on time. The service was AMAZING! Pastor Jimmy concluded his series on spiritual warfare, Supernatural. Wow! The message was so equipping, so saturated in Scripture. And the worship, well, there are no words. Through the morning, Jimmy kept referencing passages from 2 Corinthians. I’d been trying to figure out what to study next in the Word and felt that 2 Corinthians was calling me. Monday morning came and as I opened my Bible to begin studying that day, I could not help but smile. Just three verses in, God spoke right to my heart:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Cor.1.3-4)
God’s love is so beautiful, His timing always perfect. In that moment, He seemed to make it all so much clearer for me and put to words what He had already been stirring in my heart. Suffering is a thing of life – a horrible, tragic thing. But within suffering are hidden treasures to be found. By God’s grace and power, He has opened my eyes to see the beautiful things that have come from our journey and loss of Isaac. Had we not walked that road, we would not understand God’s love and peace as we do now. We would not appreciate Eliana as profoundly as we do each day. Without Him by our side, we could never imagine such deep and complete healing to be possible. Yes, we still miss our son terribly. But our hearts have healed and in remembering that bittersweet season, the sweetness outshines the bitter. To God be the glory for it! Had we not spent those 130+ days in the hospital, we would not be able to empathize with other families in that same situation. I would not even have the opportunity to be part of a Parent Advisory Board at a hospital, let alone make a difference on it. And had we not been parents of a HLHS baby, the Baers would have gone through the past few months without personally knowing another family who knew exactly what they were going through. I’ll never forget Josh’s words, “I know we didn’t call much, but just knowing you all were there meant the world to us.”
Suffering is so much more than loss. It is a beautiful opportunity. It holds treasures to be found and in Christ, we can discover them. We serve the Father of compassion, the God of ALL comfort. He comforted me in all my troubles and because of Him, I now can comfort others in any trouble with the same comfort that I received. In truth, He has given me a gift. He has turned my mourning into dancing, taken the ashes of my loss and made them something beautiful. Does He desire we suffer? Absolutely not! But as a wise woman once said, “God is faithful to redeem what He allows.” What could have been my undoing has become a gift that I can give to others. It does not take the pain away nor negate the weight of our loss, but it redeems it. To God be all the glory for the redeeming work He has done.
Please join me in continuing to pray for the Baer family. The road ahead is long and marked with grief. It will be hard. It will sneak up on them at times, as it still does for my family. But what joy to know that God holds their every moment, captures each of their tears (Psalm 56.8). And one day, He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. He is the God of all comfort, the Father of mercies, Lord over all. That, my friends, is comfort.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” (Revelation 21.1-7)