Jun 22

Hope in Pain

As my heart began to prepare shortly after Mary Anna’s birth to let her go, I remember feeling a wave of peace knowing in full confidence that she would be going to heaven, and that I would indeed see her again. Like that quoted movie line from John Q, the son says, “Good-bye”, and the dad says back, “It’s not good-bye son. See you later.”

The days and weeks started slowly moving on, and as I began to feel more and more of the reality of what it meant that she was gone. She was dead. She was not coming back. My pain grew, and it made me feel guilty to hurt so deeply. I felt like, because I had this hope to see her again that the pain should not be as bad.

As Nancy Guthrie put it in her book Holding on to Hope:

The day after we buried Hope, my husband said to me, “You know, I think we expected our faith to make this hurt less, but it doesn’t. Our faith gave us an incredible amount of strength and encouragement while we had Hope, and we are comforted by the knowledge that she is in heaven. Our faith keep us from being swallowed by despair. But I don’t think it makes our loss hurt any less.”

This was literally one of the best pieces of advice that anyone had ever told to me. Yes, hope in pain is real, and it is what makes you Keep Walking, but it does not make the pain any easier. I remember wondering those first few months if this book really was telling me the truth, and now almost a year later, I can honestly say that the pain is real somehow at the same time that our hope in Christ is just as real.

As Father’s Day began to approach, I felt a weight to make the day special for D. He deserved to be celebrated, but I  had no idea what to do to make that day bearable for him. We had a day full of traveling ahead of us, and we woke up in a hotel room hours from home. I gave him a few things, two from me, and something from Mary Anna and baby W. We cried a lot, and we got on the road. As the day drug on and the road seemed endless, I felt myself getting angry.

I was angry, because he deserved to have Mary Anna in his arms that day. He was a dad. He is a dad. Why him? As we finally curled into the bed that night, I cried so hard telling him that I did not know how to express to him how sorry that I was that our journey was the way that it was. I was so angry for him. He cried too, and he was pretty angry himself.

We opened the Word of God and read Psalms 73:

Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
v 23-25, 28

Yes, there is/was hope in our pain, but guess what? The hope did not make the pain any less. We still woke up with swollen eyes, broken hearts, and exhausted bodies the next morning. Again, there was hope in the morning, but the pain did not miraculously leave because of the hope.

I challenge you to walk tenderly around people in your lives that are in deep pain. Yes, encourage them, build them up, love them, speak truth into them, because I guarantee you that they need it, but also let them hurt. Let their pain be real, and in the end the hope does shine through, but it takes time. Not just a day or a week time, months and years, and most of the time, it is a journey that lasts a lifetime.