Last week Part 1 of our adoption journey was published at No Hands But Ours, a website for adoptive parents of China's special needs children. And an interesting thing happened during the three days before Part 2 followed. I unexpectedly found myself sitting once again on our broken couch in our Lanzhou 9th floor apartment, during those early days of Daniel's recovery, grieving all that had been taken away from him. And as I lingered in those days of sadness, when the future did not seem at all hopeful or full of promise, I realized that God could have written the last 3 1/2 years of our story much differently.
At that point we just didn't know.
I imagine that Jesus' followers must have felt much the same way after they witnessed their beloved friend and teacher exhale his final breath on the cross. All they knew at that point of their story was that Jesus had experienced an unbelievably horrific death, and that everything they hoped for had died with Him. Darkness must have consumed them as they suffered from the deepest kind of grief.
A time of rejoicing would come, but they didn't know that. This interminable period of mourning offered them no clue as to what the future might hold.
They had once heard Jesus say, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” Now they found themselves, in complete shock and disbelief, mourning Jesus' very own death.
In her book You Are Free, Rebekah Lyons writes,
“I believe grief is our most powerful confession, because it cracks our hearts wide open. The Spirit prays for what we need in that moment, in ways we can't imagine...Deep grief can take us to new depths of brokenness and surrender. In the depths of grief we realize mourning brings the comfort of God, and above all, God is waiting to rescue us in our darkest hour.
Isn't that what faith is all about—trusting God is working something beautiful and beyond our wildest imagination? Jesus, in the flesh, joined our sufferings in life and death. But the third morning after his death, at dawn, he gave us an example of exceeding abundance. A promise of hope for all who believe.”
I've rediscovered this week that lingering in the days of loss, sitting in the grief, and allowing the feelings of sorrow to resurface has been both painful and healing. Entering back into that time has brought a renewed sense of gratefulness for all that Daniel has regained since the trauma of his brain infection. He does not even recognize himself in those early recovery pictures. God has definitely brought him a long way since he joined our family as a 7 year old infant. But grieving has also brought me back into the time when I was really questioning what God was doing, projecting my fears into the future, and doubting my ability to handle this new lifetime responsibility we had just taken on because “How could we say no?”
God, in His faithfulness, has always met me right where I am, and never with accusations or condemnations. Looking back on my journey with Him, I can say that there has never been a time when He crossed His arms and scolded, “Why wasn't your faith stronger during that season?”
But only, “I was with you every painful step of the way.”
To be honest, one of the most painful realizations for me when I step back into that season doesn't have to do with Daniel, but with David. Our family was operating in survival mode at that time, and I defaulted into the caregiver role for Daniel. When I saw that David's needs were being met by other members of my family, I didn't initiate building a relationship with him in the way that I wish I had. The result was that we didn't develop a solid foundation in our relationship from the beginning, and we are still working on that now. If I had the chance to go back in time, that would be the one thing I would change. But I can't. And that brings me grief too.
Rebekah Lyons writes, “Every time we express grief, we allow Jesus to absorb our pain. When we live out the freedom we have been given to grieve, Jesus takes our grief upon himself and replaces it with comfort.”
Before we can experience His comfort though, we have to allow ourselves the freedom to grieve.
She also writes: “God wants us to reveal our weakness—to recognize what traumatizes and exhausts us. He wants us to confess our wounds, our sources of pain and stress, and bring them into the light so he can redeem and transform them with his strength.”
Redemption and transformation.
The hope of the resurrection, even on that dark Saturday in between.
God says that it's never too late for a new beginning.
Linking up with Velvet Ashes this week on the theme of Admit.
(Admit the need to Grieve)