thankful

It was mid November two years ago that my wife and I were taken off guard with bad news.  My wife was 12 weeks pregnant & her doctor had set up an ultrasound.  We went in for what we thought was a routine test to confirm that everything was ok.  The nurse moved the ultrasound device back and forth across my wife’s pregnant tummy.  We held
hands and watched the black and white shapes on the screen, waiting to be told what, exactly, we were looking at.  Then, as the nurse pulled the device away from my wife’s stomach and began to wipe it with a cloth and put it away, she casually told us, “yea, it looks like this terminated a couple weeks ago.”  We couldn’t comprehend what she was saying.

What had “terminated?”  And what in the world did she mean by “terminated?” This was just a test to confirm that everything was still “ok” in there, right?  Why was she tossing around words like “terminated?” The cold delivery seemed to amplify the impact of the news.  My wife had miscarried.  It was the week before Thanksgiving.  We spent the holiday trying to wrap our minds around what had happened and struggled to understand why.

In our time of confusion and pain our church family comforted us.  A surprising number of women had experienced this same heartache.  They willingly opened up old wounds and shared my wife’s sorrow.  Some of them had miscarried multiple times.  Women recalled painful memories in order to comfort my wife and assure her that she was not alone.

Almost exactly a year later my wife gave birth to our 3rd little girl. Again, the week before Thanksgiving. (November 17th). With the birth of each of our children, my wife has struggled with postpartum depression.  As we brought our new baby home and prepared for the holidays, the symptoms began to intensify.  This was her third time through postpartum depression, but this time seemed more severe.

As church folks often do after the birth of a baby, people began to bring meals to our home.  But somehow, with my wife struggling with depression, these meals took on greater significance.  These nightly visits from friends brought us more than food.  They brought comfort and peace.  They brought reassurance and strength. They brought concerned family members sharing our burdens. They brought love.

I ate meals that had been prepared by friends with tears in my eyes, overwhelmed by God’s love for me and for my family.  His love took on many forms.  It was meals delivered to our home.  It was a woman willing to sit with my wife, just to keep her company, or watch our kids so she could rest.  It was a friend who took our older girls to play at her home at a moments notice.  It was friends lifting up my wife and our family in prayer. Our church family became a very real expression of the love of God.

Two years in a row I have seen the incredible love of God expressed through the church. Of all the things I have to be thankful for, I am  most thankful to be a part of the Body of Christ.

“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:26-27 (NLT)

just a matter of time

I can’t seem to escape it sometimes.  Occasionally, I will try to put the thought out of my head all together, but the reminders are everywhere.  Pictures of my kids from just a couple years ago remind me of how much they have changed and how quickly they are growing. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, changing seasons… they all work together to keep me aware of the ticking of the clock.  Even subtle wrinkles, just beginning to form at the corners of my eyes, seem to insist that I remain conscious of the fact that time is passing and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

An awareness of how short life is can almost haunt me at times.  I think it used to be a good thing.  When I was younger and would hear the “old-timers” talk about how short life is and how quick it goes, I believed them.  I took them very seriously.  In high-school I kept myself reminded of their warnings .  When others would complain about teachers, classes & school assemblies, I did not share their disdain.  When they would talk  longingly about graduation  and “getting out of here,” I knew that it was a time to be enjoyed and would all too soon be gone.  I feel like this awareness also helped me to thoroughly enjoy my years in college as well.  But now…. now it causes me to be anxious. If I will allow it, it will fill me with dread.  Time is moving too quick.  Time with my kids, time with my wife, time to accomplish anything of significance… It is running out!

In my struggle with the fact that I have an ever approaching expiration date, I find 2 significant comforts that I need to be reminded of regularly.

1.  The idea of time “running out” isn’t something that bothers me alone. It didn’t sit too well with God either.  John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Our mortality upset Him to the point of taking extreme action. He gave His Son so that we  “shall not perish but have eternal life.”

2. The second comfort I find is the result of this “extreme action”- eternal life.  In a very real sense, time is not ticking.  Those of us who believe in Him will not perish!   My time with my wife, with my kids, with many of my family and friends, it is unlimited.

What a relief.  I find an overwhelming sense of peace knowing that I’m not the only one concerned with the fact that “the end is coming soon.”  Not only was someone else concerned, it was someone who was able and willing to do something about it.

Through God’s love and through Jesus I don’t have to wring my hands as I watch the pages of the calendar steadily fall away. Instead, I confidently look forward to eternal life.

“And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.” 1 John 2:25