Right now the kids are downstairs playing in our garden room. There is a huge pile of pillows at the bottom of the stairs, and they are taking turns diving into them. They are also, incidentally, in the middle of a deep theological discussion, and I just overheard them talking about Charlie. I am so thankful I get to listen in on these playtime conversations because they give me a glimpse into what my sweet glories are really thinking and feeling as they walk through the deep waters of grief. Kids seem to possess a remarkable ability to swing back and forth between jumping into pillows one minute and pondering life’s deepest mysteries the next.
As I was eavesdropping, I overheard Fred say, “Charlie died and we’re going to die too. And then Jesus is going to come back and Charlie’s body is going to raise up from the grass.”
I must say, I am totally impressed by Fred’s theological accuracy. But more than that, I am thankful for it. I am thankful that the Lord is tenderly shepherding my little ones through the excruciating sorrow of baby Charlie’s death. I am thankful that they have had no bad dreams at night, and sweet memories during the day of the 300 days they had with their baby brother. I am thankful that, by God’s grace, they get to see a mommy and daddy who love one another and are growing closer and closer through suffering…to both each other and to our Savior. These are genuine gifts that only God Himself could give, and I am so thankful for them.
And I am thankful that my children get to see firsthand what it means to be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” just as Paul said in 2 Corinthians. Sorrowful because life is so very broken. Painful. Messy. And devastatingly sad. Death is just plain sad, and every day that goes by new tears are being added to our bottles (Psalm 56:8). But I am so thankful our kids also have something very real to rejoice in with us. I am thankful that they have a genuine excitement for heaven, and a growing faith that God is good even when He does not give us the good gifts that we wanted. The other day Emma asked me, “Mommy, why did God let Charlie die when we had prayed that Charlie would come to live with us?” It was a good and honest question. These questions are not easy to answer, but I am so thankful for these opportunities to sit with our kids at the foot of the cross and to feel our smallness as humans. To sit there and feel the weight that God is GOD…and we are not. To feel the reality that God is good…and that though we don’t always get what we pray for…He is still worthy of our trust. To feel the weight that this place, this earth which is the only home any of us have ever known…is not in fact our true Home, and that someplace utterly amazing and extravagantly wonderful is yet to come.
Not a moment goes by when I don’t wish that God had chosen something different for Charlie’s life. The human part of my heart desperately wishes that God had chosen to number Charlie’s days at 30,000 instead of 300. But God didn’t. And the same God who said “No” to that prayer and longing of my heart, also said “Yes” to my prayer that my kids would truly seek after God’s heart and know what is true about Him and His love. Even my sweet Charlie is at this very moment standing in the presence of the living Christ, and knowing what is true of Jesus and His love. It’s a hard way to get a gift…but it is a gift that could only be given by a loving God.
Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how all thy longings have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
And so, while my heart aches, I have been given a way to rejoice as well. And I smile as I listen to these precious little ones jump into pillows and talk theological shop.