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How to Have Hope in the Midst of Difficulties

Bad news doesn’t wait for a rainy day.

It comes when the sun beats down hard and the day is so hot even the dog refuses to go outside.

The story stops me in my tracks in the middle of Sunday lunch.

“Their family lost a baby last week.”

He tells me it slow, as he eats his salad.  He knows this pain.  An old wound slashed wide open again.

Once you lose a baby, you always feel the sting.

I nod my head. He tells me the mother’s age. Much too young to deal with the heaviness of this grief, but old enough to feel it smother the life out of you.

At her age, it’s enough to wreck your life.

A baby’s death can derail everything you believed unless you hang on to truth. 

I don’t say anything. I just wish it away.  Wish all the pain would go away.

How much longer, O Lord?  

I don’t know this girl–a young mother who carried life in her, pushed that baby out in agony, and cradled a wailing, wrinkled newborn in her arms.

Somewhere a baby took it’s last breath and it might as well have been the mother’s last one too. Because when your baby dies, you want to die too. That’s the ugly truth when you lose a child.

And if that girl asked me how to get through it, I’d just shake my head and say what my great-grandmother did after burying two children:

“You just do the best you can.”

Don’t let my great grandmother’s line fool you–the best we can do might be downright ugly for awhile.

It might be screaming at the top of your lungs and wailing in agony and dragging yourself out of bed even though you’d rather just lay down and die. Grief is an ugly, demanding houseguest and all you can do is get up each day and put one foot in front of the other.

Those of us trying to comfort the grieving are left slack-jawed trying to understand.

All our good intentions can’t mend a broken world, ripped wide open by sin and death. I need more than self-help manifestos and Googled answers to help the woman who’s just suffered three miscarriages. I’m left speechless at the news of a senseless accident that killed a child or a mother who died of cancer, leaving four children behind.

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Only later, in an unfamiliar church as a bride and groom recite their vows, do I see it:

A stained glass image of Jesus towering over our city’s skyscrapers.  He’s larger than life, an artist’s rendition of a super-sized savior who rules the earth.

But something more emerges. As Christ towers over the world, I see the image turn to metaphor:

Christ is bigger than all our problems.  All our grief. All our sin and death. He is our hope.

He takes the worst situations, the most difficult circumstances and the hardest tragedies and shows His power over them.

This sea of faith we live in feels like it will topple our soul.

But when we grasp His hope, He holds us up as the waves of grief sweep over us. The storm will not consume us when we hang on to the One who promises never to leave us alone in our pain.

For days, the news of grief rolls in like pounding waves and I’m drowning in unanswered questions.

Hold tight, O my soul, to the one who calms the water.

Hold tight, O my soul, to the One who made oceans, and spins planets and crushes death under his heel.

Hold tight to the Jesus who is bigger than the crashing waves. The One who asks, “Why are you so afraid?”

Because even the wind and the waves obey Him.

If we hang on, we will see the dawn break and the rough waters turn smooth as glass.

O my sister, Joy will come in morning.

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Sara

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