Then Job arose, and tore his robe… and fell on the ground and worshiped. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, Blessed be the name of the Lord.  ~ Job 1:20

This weekend at the Respite Retreat, in Henrietta, TN with David and Nancy Guthrie was a hard and yet glorious time.

My heart was freshly broken for all the families we met, and feeling their pain of loosing their children along with them, along with our own heartbreak for our first daughter Tirzah.

At the end, we all agreed that we didn’t want to leave the retreat…. It was so good, because it felt so safe… it was wonderful to cry and not hold back.. to have people to cry with, and not try to fix it, or feel awkward or rush us past it… i could freely let out the deep guttural cry of my heart… it was wonderful that Tirzah’s name was said, naturally and often. It was amazing to be with people who “get it” and just “know” and we didn’t have to explain or justify anything. Tirzah’s value and worth was assumed and celebrated.

We also found in our time together, the Lord to be faithful and the Rock on which we stand. The *name of the Lord* is salvation, redemption, and resurrection… for our babies… and for us.

We found together that *Jesus understands* both the overwhelming weight of grief, and the loneliness in that grief:

Then {Jesus} said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour?

Jesus understands what it is like to pray and receive a “No” from the Father:

he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me

Together we found God’s answer to the “Why??”… and a beginning of putting to rest the guilt and regret we all are tempted to have eat away at our hearts:

Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

Here in John 9, in this story of a blind man, we see Jesus answer in terms of purpose, not cause, as Nancy drew out of the passage. That was a wonderful reminder, and a truth in season for my heart. Nancy reminded each of us that God DOES NOT punish those *in faith*. For those who have accepted the free gift that Christ offers (the gift of being our substitute on the cross, and dying the death our lawbreaking demands as penalty), ALL the punishment that I *deserve*, Jesus took upon himself on the cross. *This sounds too good to be true* but we accept it and rejoice in this gift by faith. And now, God wants to pour out on US love, mercy, grace, forgiveness and GOODNESS.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. ~ Psalm 23

*ALL* the days includes the days that our children died. God’s *goodness* was there, and IS there in the depths of the despair we still feel.

Ecclesiastes 7:1 (paraphrase) ” and the day of death is better than the day of birth.”

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. ~ Psalm 116

And not only is God good on these days, but He has planned them, purposed them, and written them. Nancy read to us from Revelation 1:17 and Psalm 139. She emphasized this TRUTH: *God holds the key of death. No one walks through until God himself opens the door. And He is ALWAYS right on time.

“Fear not, I am the first and the last,  and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. ~ Revelation 1:17

God has written *every* one of our days. Even the days that our children die.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me… ~ Psalm 139:16 

And finally, we read this *on going* invitation of Jesus in Matthew 11:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

She gently reminded each of us to come to JESUS himself, with a simple and pure heart… it doesn’t say “go to church”, or “seek a spiritual experience”, or whatever we might turn to… instead, we come to our Lord- the *person* of Jesus, and, like the *beloved* disciple John, we simply lay our head on his chest, experiencing his love and rest.

First of all, I love Jesus. I am a wife to an amazing man, and mother of three: my 5 year old son Jeremiah, 1 year old son Judah, and my daughter, Tirzah, now 3 years, is waiting for me in the gardens of Heaven. I am also a Veterinarian. The goal of my blog: Creating community around an honest journey through the joy and grief of life. Blog Topics: Child loss and grief; Attachment Theory in Parenting; Mental Heatlh; Christian Theology and Ministry; Veterinary Medicine; and Community Stories.

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