A mother has buried her baby over the weekend. Her six month old baby.
A bouncing, twin-brother, only-son, pride-of-his father baby. Gone.
This mother and I have never met - only shared our hearts through email. Talked of babies and cloth diapering. Prayed blessings over each other.
They are missionaries in Tchad, Africa. Dear friends of my parents and so by osmosis dear to me.
His father writes words spilled out from a broken heart. I read them and my soul weeps for him, for them, for the baby girl left behind. The one person who was with her even before she was born, now gone. She is only six months old, too young to know why he no longer smiles back at her.
The question bubbles up. Like lava burning through the solid foundations of rock.
"Where is God in this suffering?"
This crushing pain. The suffocating anguish of death. The wrenching darkness that flows from the body in sobs that eventually become silent. When the tears run dry and body bends in brokenness, desperately heaving the grief from the depths of the soul.
This agony that plagues the night into day. The waking, the sleeping. Everything.
In the words of his father, "...what I'm suffering all through the night as I think of my little boy, pale and cold in that box surrounded by the damp, African soil."
"Where is God in this torture?"
He is in the suffering. In the anguish. In the overwhelming grief.
Suffering peels back the layers of our lives. Stripping us down to the bone. The very skeleton of our existence.
All is Christ alone.
We have nothing. Are nothing. Except for Grace.
And there is evil that will stop at nothing to steal away every bit of Good we hold dear. Wrench from our hands the warmth of love.
I have walked in the fear of losing a child. Found myself whispering to God a weak oath of love, "I will still love You." Watched my baby turning blue. Driven behind an ambulance that held my little one. I have known that fear. That ache. And by Grace he is warm in my arms.
We don't have to live in fear. Don't have to be afraid. He wants us to know this. Feel this.
It is there in His Words, 366 times, "Fear not". Never is it even whispered, "Suffer not."
For it is in the suffering that He is found. In the moment when we lie face down in the dust. Hands open and empty. When we have only Him then we are Real.
Love is not love without choice. Without sacrifice. Without cost.
"He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."
This world is full of suffering. Still, Love is Poured out over the wife that reaches out for her husband in the dark to find only emptiness. The mother who no longer feels the warmth of her child. The orphan child that does not know the glow of affection.
When we cling to Him under the crushing weight of this world, that is when suffering bleeds Grace.
"... Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God." Isaiah 50:10