As most blog posts are, this one has been on my heart for awhile. We are nearing the 2 year mark since Naomi went to be with Jesus. In some ways it feels like its been forever in other ways it feels like just yesterday.
From the moment that she went to be in Heaven until now, I've been told so many things about what was Gods purpose, what I should believe, what I have to expect next. A lot of them come in forms of promises. Whats even harder is that the deliverer of the message is trying to be encouraging and kind.
At the beginning I really enjoyed them, they were things that I grasped onto but as time continued I realized that they were more harmful more often than good.
To summarize I would say these are justifications and promises. Our culture is so full of them. We feel like we need to offer platitudes. Let me give you some examples of these justifications that I've dealt with or have heard: "Well, something must have been wrong with the baby. It's good that it happened early". "At least you have Sophia!" "At least you didn't have a chance to get to know the baby!" "God must have wanted her more". "God has a purpose for her," (This last one seems to come with a rationale of that she was purposed to die. This was her whole meaning in life.
Some examples of promises are "It will all be okay!" "You'll get over this one day!" "God will redeem Naomi in this way ____". One of the biggest one I had faced and the most detrimental to my heart was, "God has another baby for you".
These justifications and promises are often times unfounded. They have no rationale or biblical basis. Justifying the hard times can make it seem like it shouldn't hurt as much and most of the time ends up adding barbs to the situation rather than help. Promises that are unfounded can offer false hope and or frustration. It may not be God's plan for our life.
These things are not promised to us. What are we promised as Christians? We are promised that God is here for us (Exodus 33:14), that if we do accept Jesus as our Savior that we know we will go to Heaven (John 3:16) and he even promises hard times (James 1:2-4). But never once does he promise we will have as many kids as we want, or that we will stop missing our kids or that our life is going to be without pain. He does however promise that he will be honored in all of this. Romans 8:28 says: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." I was often quoted a version of this... In attempt to tell me that God's plan for Naomi was good. I will blog more about this later, but I don't believe with any part of me that God wanted Naomi to die. Death was not in His plan for us. When sin entered the picture so did death and suffering and pain. God's plans to use what's going on now (the horrible every day to day moments that I have of not living this life with my girl) those plans... those are good.
When we first started trying to get pregnant after Naomi, I held onto these promises so tightly. "We are going to find out we're pregnant before the next year! It will make the year ok.", then "I'm going to be pregnant for Naomi's birthday... what a sweet thing", then "I'll get pregnant during her birthday month", and it kept going on. For over a year. Every month I rationalized what promise was going to be fulfilled... How God was going to redeem that promise.
It wasn't God's promise to redeem! When I finally started to realize that this was how I was holding on to these I started to receive a different type of healing.
As Christians we do this a lot, we offer platitudes that are not ones that we have right to offer. So how do we offer Hope that is Biblically grounded but also helpful? In my opinion we start by just saying, "I'm so sorry this happened to you!", "I'm here to cry with you.", "God is still here." "He loves you and your baby so much.". If in doubt just say "I'm sorry!"
What promises can we offer? We can offer the promise of God's redemption. Our God is one of redemption. It is part of his very nature! But how he redeems it may be not what we think or planned. But to be specific in how God redeems it is not our job or right.
So what can we do when someone around us is suffering? We can let them know that God hasn't left them (Psalm 3:4) and neither have we. We can say I'm sorry. We can cry with them. Eat copious amounts of cookie dough. Bring their favorite wine or beverage (mine is wine fyi). We can offer to be there for them. We can be the hands and feet of Christ.