But if not, then it’s paradise

I know two mamas who said good-bye to their babies not so small this week. Said good-bye before they were ready and before they knew how.

It can shatter the heart.

And it would be so hopeless without Jesus. Without His promises which slowly seep back in to heal the shattered pieces. Without the knowledge of redemption and peace and eternity with God. Without His nail-scarred hands pulling us in and holding us close.

Jesus is our only hope in the sadness.

He makes real the truth we did not know before this sadness. He’s a friend and He’s a conqueror and He speaks peace. He binds our wounds and He heals our hearts and He carries us. He reminds us of a forever-after with no sorrow and no pain. With no sickness and no separation and no fear.

I always want to be open, always honest about the sadness. I want to be able to talk about hard things. I want to show my children that God is real and He meets us in our real. He meets us in our hard.

He has met with us this year.

On a Sunday just after Marissa’s biopsy, we went to church and I felt truth wash over me. Afterwards, we had a sweet talk with our pastor. He gently encouraged our fearful hearts. He reminded us of God’s providence and sovereignty. He told Marissa he expected her to be here for many years. But if not? If God was doing something unusual and painful and hard?

If not, then it’s paradise.

Marissa is not afraid of dying. She doesn’t want to, but she is not afraid. She knows God as her Savior and she is settled in His hands. We trudge on and we wade through and we expect God to answer our prayers for healing. We know He is able. We know what our hearts seek, what they desire.

But if not, then we unclench our fists and open our hands fully to God. If not, then we remind ourselves of the painful glory of the cross. If not, then we rejoice through tears.

Because if not, then it’s a safe passage for her through the swollen waters of the Jordan. If not, then it’s streets of gold and eternal harps and angel choirs. If not, then it’s the forever healing in the presence of God, her King.

If not, then it’s paradise.







Many people have commented on our transparency through this journey. And I wonder why it is surprising for a person to admit his struggle in the walk of faith. It seems like the alternative would be lacking in honesty. It doesn’t feel right to mask the pain or conceal the sorrow. Where is the truth in that?

It’s a beautiful weakness to admit we need Jesus. We need Him to redeem our lives, but we also need Him to redeem our days and each of our moments. It is those who are sick who need a physician, and it is the broken who cry out for healing. It is the weak ones who need strength.

And they are the ones who receive it.

I remember with perfect clarity a moment shortly after Marissa’s diagnosis. A burning question raged and it wasn’t “Why me?” but “Are you sure, Lord?” Because it didn’t seem like there was any way we could do this. It didn’t feel like we would have any ability to glorify God. Didn’t He understand how weak, how sinful, how incapable we were of walking down this path? Didn’t He see my heart and its tendency toward self-love and shallowness? Didn’t He know how I had failed Him before and would fail Him again? Didn’t He know me?

Are you sure, Lord?

Our tendency is to cover up our messy prose with bits of pretty poetry. I do that, too. We protect our testimony by putting our best foot forward. It seems so noble, but how can people bear a burden they cannot see? How can Christ shine through if the story is about us and our ability to hold it together?

Transparency is defined as a picture viewed by light shining through it. And I hope that’s what is happening. We are weak enough, sick enough, broken enough to be transparent. If there is poetry, if there is beauty, if there is praise, it is because of the Light.

Light breaks through the clouds to reveal a clear and gorgeous sky.

And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17

For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. Ephesians 5:8