Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My revelation

I read The Shack, by WM. Paul Young, over the last two weeks.  My cousin Christine suggested the book to me, saying she felt God was telling her to share the book with me.  The Shack is not an easy read, it is prefaced on the story line of a father who is grieving the death of his youngest daughter.

By now you know that I am a Christian, but I am also a human who struggles with knowing God on a human level.  Somehow I have never doubted my faith through this all, I have just known in my soul that God exists and he loves me.

Here's the scoop.  When your baby dies, at least for me, grief can make you feel isolated.  I can be in a room of people loving me & Ethan, yet I can still feel alone.  The only thing that makes this better is to talk with or be around another parent whose baby has died.  Because they get it.  Without any explanations.  We are in the club together, and I no longer feel alone.

I am blessed to have met a few people in this club.  Being around them is one of the few times I feel at ease.  But clearly, I am not around them all that often.

     "Papa?" Mack finally said in a way that felt very awkward but he was trying.
     "Yes, honey?"
     Mack struggled for the words to tell her what was in his heart, "I'm so sorry that you, that Jesus, had to die."

So I was reading The Shack and had a revelation.  God knows what it is like to have his son die.  He's in this exclusive club.  In the club that people pray never to gain membership into.  God knows the pain of a parent when their child dies, in a relational way.  Not just because God is the Supreme Being, but because God is Jesus' father.  He watched his son die, as I watched mine die.  God knows my pain, and he knows how isolated I feel -- so he's not leaving me alone.  God is right here with me, not just as my God, but as my friend who "get's it" in a way that most cannot.  I need not feel alone in this grief any longer.

     "But if she hadn't died.  I wouldn't be here now..."
     "Mack, just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn't mean I orchestrate the tragedies.  Don't ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I needed it to accomplish my purposes.  That will only lead you to false notions about me.  Grace doesn't depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors."

Countless people tell me "everything happens for a reason."  I used to think that, and even say it.  But that's bullshit - at least for me.  I think good things can come out of bad things, but I don't think the bad things need to happen for the good things to exist.  Stop and think, what would the reason be for Ethan dying?  There just isn't one.  Ethan's death is not the only route for growth.  The good things that may come out of this experience (deepening my faith, inspiring other's faith, demonstrating love) could have developed from other things too.

This makes me feel better, I no longer have to convince myself to buy into the idea that my baby died for a reason.  Sadly, he was too small & sick for his organs to save the lives of other babies.  I was too sick during labor to be able to donate his umbilical cord blood.  So no lives were saved by the loss of Ethan's life.  Ethan's death was tragic, and I do not need to search for a silver lining in his death.  His life and the love he continues to inspire is where the positives rest, not in his death.

My God did not cause the death of my son, yet he is understands my grief.  This is a beautiful reassurance.  I could not ask for more, especially from a book.  Thank you Christine.

1 comment:

  1. I think the "things happen for a reason" is the line I hate the most. No, 8 month old babies don't get cancer for a "reason" babies are not born with a brain tumor (my friends daughter) for any reason! Yes, it is a bunch of BS. We couldn't donate any of Alexanders organs because of the cancer. Even his eyes were not "good" because of all the blood transfusions. We did tell them they could keep whatever tissue samples they wanted so that maybe, some day, no other parent has to go through what we went though.
    There was no reason he died - there is no silver lining. However, I do pledge to make something good out of this horrible thing. I give back to the hospital whenever I can - to help families, the way we were helped. I am working on helping to start a local chapter of a pediatric research group. So yes, something "good" with come from his death, but I would return all that good if it meant Alexander was still alive and with us where he belongs.

    Nancy Whipple