The new year feels like it needs more hope than we can give it. We have a diagnosis and it's fatal and the worst case scenario will happen this year, all over the face of the earth — this corrupted habitation of man — and we can't do anything to prevent the tragedies that will naturally occur.
We try insurance for the other tragedies — the stuff we prevent with precautions. We can become so careful, so preoccupied with proactive, preventative measures, that we miss our own breath and run around stopping accidents, guarding against mistakes, thwarting failures, and suffocating.
We are care-full, and tragedy threatens to make us more so.
It struck us on the third day of the new year. Dear friends, so young and alive and with barely a year of marriage under their belt — they went to the hospital to have a baby and came home with empty darkness.
The grief is compounded and it reverberates out through so many who love them well and hard and deep.
You can't hide from a darkness this thick and enveloping. You can't slather it with words or chase it away with well-meaning casseroles. There's just nothing.
I don't feel right to share their grief here because I can only imagine, and I don't even want to do that. But it really is a grief we all share, the whole world over, and your grief is mine and mine is yours and what good is it to pretend we are all alone and unique? That the whole world isn't heaving heavy chests under the covers?
From our quiet place we honor this baby and his parents who carry deep hurt. Deep sorrow. Deep need. We collectively mourn for this heartbroken world and the darkness she wears like a cloak.
Why does this corrupted place continue to rot as it turns and turn as it rots and all our preserving of our lives only leads us to sorrow?
Lay it down, Jesus says. Lay down the life you have and reach for the one that's hidden in Me.
I'm fighting a doomsday prediction for the year because babies are supposed to be a sign that the world must go on, and maybe the only 'comfort' I can come up with is this: ever since the first man and first woman chose their own wisdom over God's, the world has been rotting this way, making compost for the cycle of life and death.
Heartache is not new, and yet God continues to spin us and leave us and also be with us, here.
God, who has forever been and who doesn't grow bored when the new year wears on; God, He continues to preserve a world we would have been done with long ago.
He shows His love in this way — giving Himself to the undeserving, salting the earth with the people carved from it, and extending comfort out before us in ways that force us to reach and stretch and nearly break in our efforts for it.
Hope. Comfort. Reaching.
I am fighting the doomsday predictions. I am sorry for being a downer. I am desperate to find encouragement for myself and for you and for all the world's people made of salt and tears, but all we can do is reach and stretch ourselves beyond our own ending and keep finding out, exactly, how great is this God.
How high are His thoughts?
How unsearchable are His ways?
Our words don't chase grief away and there are no platitudes powerful enough to end mourning.
When we don't know how or why or when, the only hope we can offer is that He is always immeasurably more than we can ask, think, or imagine Him to be. Always more. And He's illuminated us enough to crack the dark cloak of every place.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." [John 1:4-5 ESV]