Finally, His answer comes

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:7-8)

I have asked this, sarcastically. I asked God if Theodore was the price for my sins. My many sins. I have sneered at him, in my soul - this God who says He is all-loving, all-powerful, ever-present, merciful, provident, healing, providing; Savior, Deliverer, Shield, Redeemer. Taking my child, the child I never even asked for, planting that child in me, in a place He knew it would die. What is the purpose of that, God? Are you just trying to prove to me that you are, too, just, jealous, righteous, mighty, The Judge? (see The Names of God)

I've sneered, and repented, and sneered again. Cried in brokenness, begged for answers, flailed about in agony, and questioned the foundations of the earth. That is what bringing me to the bottom of my faith looks like. This is where I think the bottom is: this baby, this death, is what I cannot reconcile with my current idea of God: who He is, what He cares about, how He acts, what He loves. Here, at the bottom of my faith, is the only place that God can build me. All the layers above have already been torn down and rebuilt with deeper understanding and trust. Here, at the bottom, is the pain of the wrecking ball as it crashes through my assumptions and ideas - all wrapped up in my humanity, imperfect and fraught with error. Here, He who is gracious, merciful, loving, cares to build me. Has not turned from me or forsaken me - rather, marked off this turf of my soul as a construction zone. GOD AT WORK, the big signs should read. When you see a Christian flailing about in agony, tears flowing from eyes that are normally decidedly dry, this is what it means. GOD AT WORK.

GOD AT WORK sent me here, to the old familiar book of Jonah, the story I learned as a 5 year old, to understand. Now I have a new bottom. I have received an answer for why He would plant that baby in me only to have it wither and die. All the other answers I've pondered seemed trite and ill-fitting: sparing the baby from life under the curse, teaching me about His miraculous power, making me suffer for my past sins. That's not it. This is.

Remember Jonah? Went this way and that avoiding God's "stupid" plan to save Ninevah. Swallowed by a fish (think Pinnochio and Gepetto). Finally obeyed and preached the Gospel to Ninevah. Then got angry with God when God showed mercy and didn't destroy the city after all (making Jonah look like a liar).

Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah, so that he was faint.

And Jonah asked if he might die, and said, "It is better for me to die than to live." But God said to Jonah, "Do you do well to be angry for the plant?" And he said, "Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die!" And the Lord said, "You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night, and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?"

I "pitied the plant" - my baby, Theodore, for whom I did not labor, nor did I make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. God was showing me a spirit of mercy and pity. He was showing me how He feels. Who is He teaching me to pity instead of despise? Help instead of laugh at in their (consequential) distress? Who do I think I am better than - that God wants me to help, to love, instead?? Why do I despise people, and why did it take the death of child to teach me this? Was that really necessary God? Was the scorching east wind and beating sun really necessary?

He has a purpose for each of us. Really, wouldn't it be better, in a way, if we all went straight to be with Jesus like Theodore? This baby I lost - he will never flail about in agony, or have questions without answers, or lose, or suffer. His purpose, his reason for being created, wasn't the same as mine. I ache deeper today knowing perhaps his purpose was to teach me something. I wish I had already learned that lesson so that I could hold him instead of learning from him. But I cannot truly lament where he is now. I lament for my suffering, not for his. My purpose is, apparently, to suffer. God will use my suffering for something just as he is using Theodore's lack of suffering to teach me.

Yes, that's how hard the lesson has to hurt. I am stubborn. I don't learn when I sit under a cloudy sky in comfort, watching the city and waiting for it's destruction, when I'm cool. I am the scoffer - the one who sees the decisions people make and waits for the consequences to beset them. I don't want to be the scoffer anymore. I want to be the woman who see the decisions people make and waits to see God's hand of mercy. Prays for God's hand of mercy. I want to be the feet that deliver God's hand of mercy.

Lord Jesus, Father in heaven, You have dealt so kindly with me. Thank you for sparing me the death of Amelia. Thank you for the less painful loss of a baby I never held or nursed or knew. Thank you for teaching. Thank you for caring enough to appoint plants in my life, thank you for being brave enough to risk our relationship, sending me to the brink to question you and everything you have placed in my life, thank you for worms and east winds. You are good. You are God. I am so weak and ignorant. I praise you for making something of me, for destroying the bottom of my faith again and making the pool that is Your love ever deeper and wider through these trials and wrestling sessions. You are an awesome God. I will never, ever understand the depth of you, God. Thank you for this glimpse. Help me use it for your glory. Thank you for turning my tears of pain and anguish and anger into tears of joy and humility and understanding. You are merciful, God. I love you and I want to serve you. Thank you for letting me even though I suck at it.

He became sin
Who knew no sin
That we might become His Righteousness
He humbled himself and carried the cross

Love so amazing
Love so amazing

Jesus Messiah
Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer
Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah
Lord of all

All our hope is in You
All our hope is in You
All the glory to You, God
The light of the world
~ Jesus Messiah, Chris Tomlin