Wednesday, January 14, 2015
It referred to Jesus as God's unspeakable gift. While I didn't really get the word choice (Unspeakable? Wouldn't indescribable be better?), it set me to thinking about God's love.
Parents who have lost a child may find themselves questioning God or their own faith -- I know I did. I was angry at God for allowing Ethan to die, full of questions and rocked that my prayers and faith had not led to his recovery from addiction. I was so certain that it was just a matter of time, that God would put the right people in his life or open the door that would allow him to see what his life had become. It was not that I stopped believing in God -- the whole idea is incomprehensible to me -- it was that it felt like He didn't really care.
Yet eventually this terrible loss took me to different place. In this place I feel God's love in a way I don't think I ever comprehended it before.
We're not perfect and from the time Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, we could never be. Yet God wants us to be with Him. Sure, it would be easy to say that everyone got a free pass, but then what would be the point of life and what kind of souls would we possess if we'd never faced any challenges or had to make choices? So from the beginning, He had a plan. To show His love, He would forgive our imperfections. So that we could understand how hard that was, it had to involve a sacrifice. For a time He allowed lesser sacrifices, but He knew that a time was coming when the sacrifice had to be huge. It was.
He sacrificed His son, Jesus, for us. He sent him out of his eternal presence to earth to live as a mortal man, He allowed men to beat him and crucify him. In order for Jesus to die, He had to sever for a while that eternal connection.
I've lost a son. I know the pain of a child's death. Would I let my son die for a bunch of people who didn't even know or care about him? Soldiers' families do it every day. Would I let him die for people who might care? Law enforcement officers' parents do it all too often. Would I let him die for someone I loved? Maybe, if he were willing, but just imagining that choice brings tears to my eyes.
Would I have let him die if it had been within my power to stop it? No way in this world or the next.
God did all those things.
Had He even thought it, the crowds crying for Jesus' death would have dropped dead, the soldiers would have crumbled to ash, Jesus would have soared back to His side. He could have stopped it, but out of love for people who would one day realize the sacrifice and people who never would even acknowledge it, He didn't. Jesus died for our forgiveness. There is nothing within our power that could ever equal that sacrifice; all we have to do is believe and accept it.
There are people who lose a child and say, "How can a God who loves me do this?" I have been that person at times. But I've become the person who says, "How could God love me that much?"
With all the mistakes and baggage I've accumulated through my life, how could He love me enough to send Jesus? How could He love any of us enough to accept, even for a little while, this pain?
Sure, He knew how it was going to turn out. He knew Jesus would triumph over death and rise from the grave. Don't we know the same thing?
I know that Jesus' victory is Ethan's as well and that while Jesus was in the grave for three days, Ethan flew from his body into the arms of the God who loved him enough to make the sacrifice of His own son.
No, that doesn't heal my grief. I'm still floored by it sometimes. I still cry and my arms ache to hold my son, my ears strain for the sound of his voice.
But sometimes when I cry, like now, it's not because of my loss. It's because I finally understand how much God loves me and the rest of humanity.
Perhaps, after all, it was an unspeakable gift He gave.