For you cast me into the deep, / into the heart of the seas, / and the flood surrounded me; / all your waves and your billow passed over me… The waters closed in over me to take my life; / the deep surrounded me…
Jonah 2:3, 5a
Jonah’s storm was self-imposed. That is not the case with all deep water that we tread through.
My deep water began on Thursday, January 29th, 2015. My wife and I received the news that no parent ever wants to hear. Your 8-month-in-the-womb baby boy has no heartbeat. He was dead.
How on earth can one begin to make sense of such heartache and loss? Our second baby boy (our third child) is dead. He’s gone. We will never hear his sweet voice, or feel his tender breath. Dead. His brother and sister will never get to hold him and cuddle him. We will never get to tuck him into his bed at night. Dead.
We don’t have a neat, little categories for such things. People try to fit this loss into neat, little categories, probably because it makes them less uncomfortable or it somehow makes them feel better. “It’s good that he’s with Jesus now.” Or… the one I got today, “Are you over that miscarriage thing yet?” Really? Over? Will it ever be over?
These aren’t the things that are disturbing. What is disturbing is how broken my faith is. The Christian “world” has now completely lost its lustre. What I really want now are some more cheesy praise songs that talk about how good God is and how He wants to make you happy. Right. Or I just want the same praise song performed over and over again by every Christian band under the sun. Because the guy that wrote it wasn’t good enough.
I know. I’m jaded. Seriously though, so much of the Christian culture that I inevitably touch seems so distant and removed from the searing anguish and pain that I feel. If Christian culture seems disconnected from the reality of suffering, then it is disconnected from the Bible. Our Scripture is dripping with piercing words from the dark chambers of our human experience. If there is one refrain that echoes again and again it is that pain is a deep and central part of being human. Pain is designed by God to show us something.
The question is: do we have eyes to see it and ears to hear it?
We delivered our son on January 30, 2015 and held his beautiful little lifeless body in our arms. My faith took a gut punch that day. I have been reeling ever since.
I suddenly found myself outside the swimming pool, in the middle of a wild and fierce ocean with no boat, no oars, no life vest. Stranded. Alone. Naked. Cold. Struggling to stay afloat.
This is life in the aftermath of death. Life trying to be suffocated by death at every turn. Life hanging onto a bear thread.
I don’t know what the end of this journey will bring. That scares me. Writing those words is scary as Hell. What will my fate be?
More important than that, I do know who will be with me at the end of my journey. And that is Jesus. I don’t know what or why but I do know Who. And somehow that still doesn’t comfort me. This reveals the ache and break of my heart. I am not satisfied with Jesus any more. That’s not saying anything about Him. But instead it whispers: “O how my heart has drifted.”
If this resonates with you in the slightest, then I invite you to journey with me to discover faith in the light of sin, death, despair, and renewal. Faith is messy. But it is beautiful. I write those words because I know they are true. I don’t believe them right now but I know if I continue to press into these things I will find them to be true.
And finding them to be true I will find the One who is true. The One who holds life and eternity in His hands and who has defeated death. The One who I am wounded by but love fiercely. The One who loves me with a fierce, wild, passionate love…
Jesus of Nazareth.