We live in a world of consequence. When we achieve, we receive the consequence of reward. When we fail, we are disciplined. We are constantly trying to quantify whether or not we deserve the result we earned. Sometimes the answer is easy. Of course I deserved this. I studied hard to get an “A”. Or no, I did not. The car accident wasn’t my fault.
I’m not sure at what age we develop the idea we have a right to certain things. It must be pretty early, because my two year old son believes he deserves to eat candy for lunch. I do know that as we age, and our jobs, families, and possessions begin to pile up, we form solid beliefs about the quality of what we deserve. Although humans extensively care about what we deserve, deservedness cares nothing for us. Deservedness doesn’t care if you are young or old, male or female. It doesn’t discriminate between good and evil. It finds its way into our reasoning and justifications just as easily. Saints and murderers alike wonder if they truly deserve the life they were given.
I have spent far too many sleepless nights thinking, I am too healthy to have lost a child. I am too young for all these blood tests. And as we continue to spell out the many reasons why our circumstance doesn’t reflect the reality we want, we are left with the age old question, “Did I deserve this?”
If you haven’t said these words out loud… I bet you have thought them. At least, I have. Do I deserve to live in sadness for the rest of my life? Did I deserve to look at lifeless ultrasounds? Do I deserve to own a shirt I can’t wear because it was the shirt I was wearing when I was told my son had no heartbeat? I don’t believe so. And I don’t think Jesus does either.
To “deserve” implies a specific origin the result can be traced back to. And as Christians, we can trace our sinful heritage back to a tragic origin. The moment humanity defied the rules of God, sin entered the world. If you stop reading the bible there, then the answer is yes, I did deserve the death of my son. My sinful nature brings the consequences of destruction. This may seem harsh, but God himself told Adam and Eve if they ate from the tree of knowledge, they would surely receive death. But thankfully, the story doesn’t end there.
Jesus comes on the scene. And he was both man and God himself. He is the only being to not deserve his fate. Jesus was sinless. And yet he took all sin on himself to reverse my debt. Jesus didn’t deserve to die for me. But he did. He made it so that when the Father looks at me through his son, He sees a child who doesn’t deserve their fate.
Although Jesus’s sacrifice doesn’t change the destruction of sin in my life, it does tell me I did nothing to deserve the loss of my son. I still feel the pain, the heartache, and the gut wrenching hurt, but it changes the course of my heart.
I have often thought that the Garden of Eden and the perfection of life in it was God’s plan A, and Jesus was plan B. But now I wonder if Jesus was plan A all along.
What if God has a purpose for sin in my life? What if He knew that the death of my son would bring me closer to Him than ever before? What if God knew my circumstance would cause me to bow at his feet because I have nowhere else to turn? What if he knew stillbirth would create a desperation for Jesus and a desire for his love in my heart that would be everlasting and unbreakable? I think, if given the choice, God wouldn’t allow that opportunity for me to pass by. Because God is most concerned about my heart and eternity, more than my momentary pain. I don’t say this as if he doesn’t care. I think he feels my pain alongside me. But as my Father, I have to believe he truly does know what is best for me. And it sucks. Although the death of my son gives me nightmares, headaches, stress, and it makes me cry infinite tears, I have to choose to believe that God loves me enough to use sin to drive me closer to him.
My sister-in-law sent me a song in which one of the lines says, “You’re asking me to thank you even when the pain is deep.” It made me wonder, could I, someday, be thankful for the passing of my child? Because it created the space and heart condition I needed to step closer to God, to love him more, to understand him a little deeper, to trust him with every fiber of my being, and to want to serve him and spend eternity with Him.
I believe God would tell you I didn’t deserve to lose my son. But I also think he would tell you He has never been more proud of me since then.
So here I am. Caught between reality and the divine. Overwhelmed by God’s mercy. I am sad all the time, but I am in love with the Lord. And somehow, I know that love will carry me.