This past week on a recent grief session, I learned how deeply grief and loss span across generations. As I listened, I felt the cry of God’s children grappling with life and death, trying so desperately to make sense of hurts that in some seasons come in rapid succession. Each person’s heaviness weighed on me because if we were honest and just admitted it – the unpredictability of life and its harshness reminds us how little control we have over so much of it. This can be a sobering reality to face. From an existential perspective, how do we make sense of someone we love dying without warning or sickness; or wrap our arms around a diagnosis of lung cancer when the person never smoked a day in their lives; or accept a child born with Down Syndrome?
When life offers no sensible answers often it is then we turn our attention to the Lord. Apart from living in a fallen world riddled with uncertainties, human fragility, and our own choices, what if the resounding point was to turn our attention to the Lord, to tune in a little closer to His agenda, and be changed by it? What if journeying the life of a child born with Down Syndrome was not sent by God but allowed to awaken and sensitize souls to a deeper, richer, Spirit-filled, grateful, relational experience with others and God himself?
I’ve shared before my greatest takeaway from all my life experiences so far is how attached the Lord has been to me and everything about me – my heart, mind, fears, relationships, strengths, hurts… In my own reflection of growth, there is one thread, spanning across each experience that remains the most potent – how I have changed. These changes came not when things were going well, but when things turned wrong. My greatest emotional, spiritual, relational transformations came through my deepest sufferings - persecution, grief, separation, disappointment, and loneliness.
On one hand, the immediate hurt of it all felt like it was taking me under, but God, the masterful potter He is had been supernaturally using all those things to form in me the substance/character He desired me to have. This is what the Apostle Paul means in Romans when He says, “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him who are called according to his purpose.
Perhaps the hurts are truly soul helpers. The Lord is the truth, and He is His word reminding us how closely He stands in our lives. (Through it all) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart…” (Jeremiah 1:1) For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… (Romans 8:29)