Friday, July 26, 2013

You Give and Take Away

Five and a half years ago Andrew and I chose “Blessed Be Your Name” to be sung at our wedding. We both loved the song and wanted our marriage to be founded on the principle that in the face of all things we could say “You give and take away/ [Our] heart[s] will choose to say/ Lord, blessed be Your name.” And, then came the hardest five and a half years of our lives. Marriage challenges have followed, as have health issues and serious family problems, we have lost three grandparents, we have struggled in ministry, experienced violence and traumas while living in the city, reached complete ministry burn out, lost relationships we trusted, our willingness to serve and praise the Lord in all circumstances being continually tested.

This last year has, perhaps, been one of the hardest yet. However, the extreme highs and lows have highlighted for us the constancy of our God. Through great losses and great gains we have determined to commit ourselves, however imperfectly, to serve and bless the Lord whether it be in a season of loss or gain, because those seasons have continued to roll over us unceasingly.

July 20th we celebrated the one-year anniversary of Judah’s adoption. Both sets of our parents joined us for the day to celebrate what a gift he has been to us. It was also a day we spent grieving the loss of our second child. Only the day before we had learned that at eight weeks pregnant I had miscarried. In one weekend we both thanked God for the incredible gift of Judah and grieved the loss of the child God took to be with Him. It is no coincidence that the song replaying constantly in my mind has been “You give and take away/ My heart will choose to say/ Lord, blessed be Your name.”

In the last week we have begun to wrestle with the loss of someone we never got to know, whose face we never got to see, and of whom our only memories are a pregnancy test and a month and a half of all-day “morning sickness.” Miscarrying has proven to be a personal and rather violating experience as a woman, and the feelings of loss for both Andrew and I are confusing to say the least. And yet, by God’s mercy, we have been able to hold Judah close and take joy in the blessing of our son.

While in the throes of grief and joy last weekend I couldn’t help but think about how odd it was that exactly one year ago, on Judah’s adoption day, we were in the same wrestle with loss and gain. The inexplicable, and yet somehow perfect, timing of God has paired the celebration of one of our greatest gifts with some of our toughest losses. Last year, surrounded by family and joyfully welcoming Judah as our forever son, we also grieved the dwindling days we had left in St. Louis, the unexpected loss of our friends and community, the great confusion and lack of support we felt, and the disappointment in relationships we had trusted.

But, in the midst of it all, God has been faithful.

Don’t think in the last year, or even in the last week, we haven’t asked God “why?”, but it hasn’t proved to be a very helpful question. The answers, I assume, lie in the delicate tangle of a fallen, sinful world and a holy, all-knowing God...not something we will ever fully understand. The only thing we can do in the face of life’s pain, disappointments, and joys, is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who never changes, never ceases to love us, and whose mercies are new every morning.

We know every gift is from the Lord and every loss is made bearable in light of the loving God we serve. We will choose to bless His name, whether through tears or laughter, and rest in the knowledge that one day He will right every injustice, bring an end to every pain, and unite all His people in unending joy.

Judah Medlen Day 2013

 2013 - Psalm 139.13-16

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