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Blessed Be The Name...


You know how it is when you buy a new car? Suddenly on the road you frequently recognize that same kind of car. Or when you are pregnant then you see all the other expecting families. Same thing when someone close dies ...now you start seeing others in the same sorrow. And even when I read the Bible I see new things I never saw before in those ancient records.

Sunday morning during beginning of church worship one of the songs we sang was "Blessed be The Name". A line from that song is "You give and take away" ...borrowed from Job's famous words after his life was practically destroyed in a day by almost every calamity that could befall a man.

I've studied the story of Job before, and I admit I always thought even though he lost all his ten children at once that was merely the final blow in an already devastating day for him. I foolishly hadn't considered how losing those kids may have tested his faith more than than loosing all his widespread assets in simultaneous disasters, bandits murdering all the hundreds of his employees, and being stricken with boils from head to toe some days later.

But suddenly I realized the Bible specifically makes a prior mention of Job's spiritual investment in the well-being of his children. He prayed for them regularly, and asked God for their protection.

So afterwards when Job tore his robes and began mourning I always assumed he was bemoaning the awful things that happened starting with financial ruin, terrible sickness, etc. But, as a man of faith, Job would have known that God could heal and restore him at will, and that posessions and health were not paramount to happiness. In fact his initial words "naked came I into this world and naked I will return" seem to show that he was bowing to God's providence in these things. During the following days though, the loss for his children would have mushroomed at the same time he became horribly ill. Sometimes we hope that God's deliverance is merely delayed, but it is the finality of death and the cold, painful, wrenching termination of all hope for existance here below that unavoidably questions God's promises to protect our life and that of our loved ones. There is no going back afterwards, or denying what transpired.

And as the tragic aftermath gripped him Job tried to accept the adversity and did "not sin with his lips", Job sat in silence for many days. His wife actually had suggested: "to curse God and die" but I think Job did not at first know how to utter what his thoughts considered so he sat dumb. I believe He was struggling desparately to reconcile what he had been trusting about God and what just happened.

When Job first said "the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: Blessed be the Name of the Lord" we can be certain the words were not uttered flippantly or with cool confidence. They were most likely not even said triumphantly as they are sung today. I suppose that it took Job several breaths and a drawn out moment to utter that sentance ...and the final part doggedly came out in a valiant effort to cling to the life-preserver although faith was numb and the waves towered hundreds of feet above his head. After those words he had no energy left. After weeks passed, his thought processes further confused rather than resolved the dillemna and he started arguing incoherently like through a weary confused fog.

Last night I spent hours on the phone with a good friend who lost his son just a few weeks ago. We both know instinctively that our sons are too precious to just sweep away the pain and push memories under the rug. I am only a few weeks in front of his experience but even though I know he has brutal times coming up, suggesting a shortcut would be pointless. I have no need to uncomfortably offer cliches in an attempt to resume pleasant life. Because this part of life is not pleasant. What happened to us is too monumental to be just forgotten. It deserves some mourning. It is not pretty. The unnatural ugly fraud of death, and specifically the trauma of our son's death must be recognized, reviewed, and absorbed although it ages us immeasurably and has put us on spiritual crutches - invalids for life.

Sharing with friends helps me know I am not alone in recognizing this tragedy. It is especially meaningful to talk with those who have similar losses. Even writing here has helped. But I have progressed by stages learning that ultimately God is the only one who can understand this fully, absorb the hurt, and make the trip to join me in this place. Step by step I am unloading the pain to Him, and then actually receiving a greater capacity to process and express loss. And that increased capacity to feel makes all the colors of life brighter.

So although I recently may have been writing mostly sad thoughts it is not just grief comes alive these days
...all emotions (sorrow, joy, motivation, family love, etc.) are more vivid in this time. Tuesday morning I woke up at 2:00AM and couldn't sleep for hours ...the past three years played back in my mind in full color. Lately it is like God walks through experiences with me, showing me how meaningful they were, and how close He is and was. I wonder why I couldn't see Him there before at times? I see now that that God is in everything. Even when we are struck dumb with sorrow, He was there. His care in those moments was the stirring cello solo, while beyond our ears He was also with Jaymun in the crescendo of heavenly cymbals and drums. He hosts that celebration at this very moment, and still smiles at the victories He worked for Jaymun last year, and two years ago. Those moments remain, worked by God according to His purpose. We just can't see or feel them all at once. Time doesn't suffice to write down what happened because the story began and continues in eternity.

God's forgiveness, love, and patience is an indispensable commodity now, as He stands by our side here, to help review memories, share emotions, and teach lessons. Suddenly, while looking at His involvment in these past years, I feel again God's approval in Jaymun's gifts to us. I feel this incredible burst of satisfaction and pride for my son. Jaymun was not a tragedy ...he became exactly who God intended him to be. And I see that Jaymun is still running about basking in the love of our Father above. I ask Him to tell Jaymun that his dad down here thinks he is one of the best sons ever.

Only three months ago I was tearfully telling others that I believed God could take Jaymun through to healing below or victory up above. I celebrated that we could walk through the "valley of shadow of death" and "fear no evil" even if Jaymun went through to heaven. I think that was an honest boast, although looking backwards it is somewhat like a little girl with innocent eyes blithely saying God will help her be a good mother, or a young lad confidently saying he trusts God will help him raise a family. They have no idea of the pain and trauma of life although their childlike trust in God is cute, refreshing, and not to be discouraged. So it is true that you can face any outcome, death included while resting easy in God's control, but if you are a caregiver and really believe God can help, heal, and accomplish extraordinary miraculous events ...then I don't see how you stop from fighting hard and trusting Him to deliver your loved ones despite impossibilities. In a strange way, having faith adds to the shocking, sorrowful surprise of a child's death.

Especially because the pain afterwards is not something that comes from your mind and there is no way to control it, or think it away. It is impossible to explain, prevent, or sidestep. If you simply distract yourself, even for days at a time, afterwards the unnatural situation jumps out to destroy all your energy and the loneliness would truly veritably kill a person unless you share that loneliness intimately with God and He transforms the experience from separation into real sharing and comforting closeness. And then it doesn't hurt less, you just can see other things beside the hurt so you can keep on going forward.

Yes, I am starting to see some of the bigger picture again ...that although God "slows down" and walks by our side, He redeems our doubting failure bringing us to a broader vision and a greater hope. Contrary to our halting, tentative steps forward, He is marvelously bold. He knows time is short, and wants us to risk all again relying on His love. His safety net surpasses our requirements for caution by taking the sting out of death. I suppose that is Jaymun's perspective right now (although in some ways I hope he is still a carefree toddler ...I hope he doesn't grow up until I get there to be with him). I mean, if God was going to give a kid with terminal cancer to a family that would love him fiercely and a bit unconventionally then maybe we did accomplish our part of God's purpose. So He packaged Jaymun with all his special qualities and sent him to Dave, Jennifer, Ben, Kirsten, Devon, and Sean. And God did this knowing that He would be able to bandage our broken hearts afterwards, and walk with us together as we limp through the rest of life.

Friends, those are not flippant statements.
They are not easy to make and honestly I'm stumbling through how to say it, much less live it.
I am not Job.

It seems like an eternity of time between "The Lord giveth and taketh
     ...and "blessed be His Name"

...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:17-21