Two Calebs, same Jesus

It tells of One whose loving heart
Can feel my deepest woe;
Who in each sorrow bears
A part that none can bear below.
Oh, how I love Jesus!
Oh, how I love Jesus!
Oh, how I love Jesus!
Because He first loved me.

~ O, How I Love Jesus, by Frederick Whitfield, 1855 ~

Sometimes there is something awesome and even frightening about how swiftly, powerfully inexorable the march of time is. Occasionally, I would swear that I can feel the wind as the world turns, and day turns to night and back again. That constant marching of time carries us further away from things we've lost - health and loved ones, yet closer to them with each passing moment as we dance toward death and reunion in heaven. As I sang my children to sleep for their naps today, a haunting memory flooded over me. Another little Caleb...a different place and a different time...and a mother's plaintively sweet and unapologetic voice as she sang him to sleep with his favorite song about Jesus. As my children came, one after another, I continued to ponder this scene, and wonder how it was that she taught him to love that song so much. In the past week, it has happened to me. My own Caleb begs for a favorite sweet song about Jesus, every time he lays his head down. He sings along in his little tenor, the words coming a millisecond after they leave my lips, a call-and-response of mother-heart and son-joy drifting upwards to Jesus' throne every night and every naptime.

The words of the third verse tug my heart strings every time I sing them. Truth shouts out from these lines: One whose loving heart can feel my deepest woe; who in each sorrow bears a part that none can bear below. As the trials and losses and limitations have piled on in the past 2 years, I have often walked a lonely path that no one can truly share with me. People have joined me on that path at times: my friend Amy whose own daughter suffers seizures and limitations much more severe than Amelia's; my friend Heather who walked the cancer road with me for a time; my mother, as she shares a deep understanding of my response to loss and the loss of my baby. But there are much longer stretches were it is just me and Jesus. How comforting to know that He feels my deepest woe! He is so much more than a sympathetic listener or a serving friend (not to belittle the gifts of sympathetic listeners or serving friends!). He is right there in my heart, feeling the break and bathing it in his own tears; the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26b).

What is is less than what was, and that brings grief. The last few days have been happiness interlaced with sorrow, the sorrow threads woven in by the loss of that babe, the loss of freedom, the loss of many things that could have been great joy, the loss of security and naïveté. I imagine myself, in brief moments, heavy and full with the last month of pregnancy, unpacking cloth diapers instead of sending them off to be of use to someone else. I imagine myself without cancer, without fatigue and sudden calcium deficiency and the horrible muscle tetany it brings with it. I imagine myself back to a different time...my body and soul and mind like they were when my first children were born, and cares were so distant and ambiguous and out-of-focus. It is not where I am today. I am grateful for the consequent lessons the suffering has brought. I am thankful that others have submitted to their suffering. It is as if Amy is standing before me, when I sit on the bed singing at bedtime, holding out a vignette of unfettered beauty and fragrant warmth - the vignettes she created by bowing to Jesus-Lord instead of thrashing before Him. The vignette she wrought by allowing her wordless lament be mouthed by the Spirit, who groaned for her with pleading too deep for words. May I be a similar instrument through these days of suffering, and hold out a gift built of faith and obedience to some young mother in the future.


An exercise in what might have been:
capturing loss via double exposure through tears.