Prologue: When we first became pregnant we were surprised to learn we were pregnant with identical twin girls. 20 weeks into the pregnancy we learned our girls suffered from a rare condition called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. We experienced a miraculous healing of all symptoms related to this deadly disease and at 32 weeks gave birth to our twin girls, Marylou Janice, our firstborn was stillborn. Providence Joy was just over 2lbs. There was no known cause for Marylou’s death. Time has given me the courage to share some of what God has taught me through our experience of anticipation, joy and grief. It is my hope that I can use this venue and our journey to share with you, dear reader, pieces of what we have learned and experienced so you can walk away with a greater understanding of our God, even amidst pain.
I think the reason that it is not comforting for those who have experienced loss to hear things such as, “he/she is in a better place,” “you couldn’t handle x that is why it was taken from you,” “or at least you have your ???,” is that those things in no way explains away the pain. None of the “benefits” of the tragedy actually justify the tragedy, so those who are left in the wake of loss find themselves asking “Why?” over, and over, and over again.
My husband, Jon, sat me down one night to tell me what God had spoken to him through Romans 8:28. We have found that as we work through our grief and disappointment over the death of Marylou, we struggle with understanding the love that God has for us. It is too easy to view him as someone distant or cold. We get lost in asking “Why?” and when we cannot find answers that justify the loss, we have trouble viewing God as loving.
Jon was helping with elder interviews at church and one of the candidates shared this verse. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, show have been called according to his purpose…” (Romans 8:28). We sat on the couch together and cried as we let the truth of this verse and then entire passage sink into our understanding. Jon articulately said, “It is not that in anyway losing Marylou feels good, but I know that God works for the good of us, those who love him.”
The powerful thing about this passage is that Paul does not just leave us with this hard to grasp concept that God works for the good of us in all good and bad. He also predicts the questions that will fire in our head when confronted with tragedy or loss the natural and good response of “but how can this possibly be good?” He responds to this unspoken question by explaining the incredibly deep love of Christ, that he gave His Son for us. Thinking about this for a moment leaves me a bit dumbstruck. See, I don’t need to know why life’s losses and tragedies are in anyway good for us because I know that God deeply loves us and this love overflows into His goodness. I don’t need to know the why because I know the Who that controls they whys of life.
We don’t understand how losing Marylou could in anyway be good, but we know that God works for the good of those who loves him, in all things; We know the character of God. This truth is hard to grasp, beyond an intellectual understanding when faced with loss, but it does not take away from its truth.
I don’t know why God took our Marylou home to be with him, or why people have to experience loss in anyway, illness, hospital stays, separation from kids, job losses, infertility, I don’t know the whys but I know the Who. And that is exactly what we need to know. If we allow the character of God to help us be ok with unanswered whys we can navigate tragedy without becoming confused by the goodness of God because that Who is the answer, not the problem.
I wanted to leave you with this verse in context, as Paul (who experienced more then his fair share of loss) explains beautifully how this hope and goodness is possible and how its truth transcends our circumstances through the Who of Christ.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Post by: Amie)