Probably the biggest stones in my memorial of this season, are related to the loss that we experienced in 2009 with the death of our baby boy Elijah. The documentation of this journey can be followed in the following posts:

An Artist and Lover of God’s Take on Grief
Picking Up the Pieces
Regarding Elijah

Instead of reiterating the journey and the emotions involved, here’s what I learned, and they’ll be stones in this Josh 4 memorial.

  1. It’s OK to grieve, cry, and be broken. The grieving process takes…time. You don’t just get over holding your lifeless baby in your arms. While people don’t understand, as a father it shapes you, it changes you, makes you see life different, and if you hold onto God and your wife through the process, you commune with them both on a level that is indescribable.
  2. It teaches you how to set boundaries. Well meaning people offered words that they intended for encouragement, some people we didn’t know offered to pray without knowing our story or knowing us…and some just said some stupid things. Part of being a warrior for my family is learning how to set boundaries, be firm in interaction with others, and be assertive spiritually and emotionally. It’s OK to say ‘no.’ Our healing came through people that we know closely ‘being Jesus’ to us.
  3. Jesus really does redeem our brokenness. This is a fact and not just optimism. While I’ll go into this further in the next post, the redemption is not just compensating for a broken situation, but it’s making the broken piece beautiful. BLESSED are the poor, BLESSED are those who mourn (i.e. Matt 5)…as if to say, ‘Blessed are the broken…’ This sentiment is upside down from our society, but I’m finding it’s right side up for the Kingdom of God.
  4. Suffering is OK. Jesus told us we would have trouble, but assured us that His peace would be with us, and that He has overcome the world (Matt 16). One thing I learned in this season is that the Western Church often does not understand suffering. We come up with doctrines to try to escape suffering, resulting in some sort of distortion that implies: ‘if you have strong faith, you won’t have trials;’ however, from what I can see, according to the Word, we won’t have strong faith unless we encounter and endure trials.
So, those are stones 2, 3, 4 & 5 (out of 12). These lessons are tough ones. The ground from which I’ve picked up these stones is ‘holy ground.’ It’s something that I don’t talk about lightheartedly or gloss over casually. But they are lessons of the Lord’s goodness, and I’m still learning them. I realize that talking about such an intense situation can be a ‘downer,’ but walking through this ‘night,’ I’ve witnessed that the Glory of the Lord is a much brighter light than I thought it was. It’s the kind of light that pierces you, and changes you…it transforms you. It doesn’t just make you a survivor, it makes you a fighter. I guess that’s what hope does…it’s not just wishful thinking but a transformative look toward, and fellowship with, the One who “upholds the universe by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3).