Lord, if only you had been here!!
Well, today’s post was supposed to be part 2 of a series on perfectionism, but because of the events of the last 48 hours, I’d like to put that on hold until next week.
Today I want to tell you how grateful I am for God’s Word, and specifically for two ladies in it. Yes, once again, it’s Mary and Martha.
As many of you know, my husband and I have been married for almost 24 years, and for no reason that doctors have been able to pinpoint, we have not been able to conceive.
Two years ago, we became licensed foster parents with the intent to adopt. In the past two years, we only received two calls to take in kids “just for the weekend” while their parents were away.
Then, out of the blue, came the call on Wednesday afternoon of this week. “Would you be interested in a seven-day old, healthy baby boy?”
“OF COURSE!!! I know I shouldn’t ask you this, but what do you think the chances are of us being able to eventually adopt him?”
“Of course you know that the goal is always to reunite the child with the biological parent, but this situation really looks like it’s not going to end up that way, but still, try not to get your hopes up.”
We jumped in the car and two hours later, we met this 4 pound 11 ounce treasure named Benjamin for the first time, and our hearts melted.
Melted hearts simply don’t understand the “try-not-to-get-your-hopes-up” concept.
We brought him home late Wednesday night, and I planned to “sleep” in the bed next to his crib between his every-three-hour feedings, but instead, I sat there watching him in awe. I dreamed about his first words in English and Spanish, his first soccer game, his first rock climbing experience with us, his first trip to Chile to meet the “familia,” teaching him piano and guitar, and above all, together with my husband, teaching him how to be a man of God.
The sun rose that morning while I was still watching and dreaming. Then my over-the-top amazing friends started texting, celebrating, and showing up at my doorstep with extremely generous gifts, and staying to offer much needed support and training to this new mom.
Then in the midst of the party—somewhere in the middle of the lesson on assembling the swing or choosing the perfect bumbo seat—came the call.
It was Benjamin’s case worker.
“Caryn. I have some bad news for you. In court today, the judge gave legal guardianship to Benjamin’s great grandparents. We need you to bring him to the office. They’re here waiting for him now.”
“GREAT grandparents? There’s nothing GREAT about this,” was all my mind could latch on to.
The celebration instantly vanished, leaving room for only tears, heartbreak, and yes, a bit of anger to flow. My dear friends began to pack up the room full of gifts to return to the store, so we wouldn’t have to face them when we returned to our house without this little human that only took seconds to fall in love with.
We drove 45 minutes in silence with the treasure who we desperately wanted to call “our son,” to hand him over to strangers.
“Thanks for taking care of OUR Benjamin. He’s such a cutie, I bet it was hard for you to give him up.”
Yeah. Great Grandma. It was hard.
Here’s what I know, and my heart’s a bit too raw at this moment to even try to make it all sound pretty, but here goes…
We all go through hard times. Many have and will go through way more heartbreaking situations than this. Tough times cause some people to draw closer to God, and others to bitterly dismiss God with the argument, “How can an all-loving, all-powerful God let this happen? Either He’s not all-loving, or He’s not all-powerful. Either He didn’t have enough love to stop it, or He didn’t have enough power to stop it.”
Oh. So because our FINITE minds couldn’t THINK of a reason why He didn’t stop it, that means no reason exists?
I have always loved the story of the death of Lazarus found in John chapter 11. Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus—who wasn’t really all that far away—that their brother Lazarus was sick. Surely they had high hopes that He would immediately come and heal their brother. “If” He really loved him. “If” He had the power.
But Jesus stayed where He was with His disciples for two whole more days. How insensitive. How uncaring. So it would seem.
In the meantime, Lazarus died, and all hope for Jesus to answer Mary and Martha’s “prayers” died with him.
Seemingly way too late, Jesus went to Bethany where dead Lazarus along with dead hope had been placed in a tomb.
“Lord, IF ONLY You had been here, my brother would not have died,” cried Martha and then Mary as well.
Other cynics said, “He healed a blind man. Couldn’t He have kept Lazarus from dying?”
We know the end of the story. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and God’s glory was demonstrated in a much greater way than it would’ve been had Jesus done what He was first asked to do.
A Much Greater Way
In times of heartbreak and suffering, it’s easy for us to think like Mary and Martha. “If ONLY You were here, Lord.” The truth is, He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He has placed His Holy Spirit in us to not only teach us, but comfort us 24/7.
When we’re hurting, it’s easy for us to think like the cynical crowd playing the comparison game, “He healed that blind guy. And that blind guy wasn’t even as devoted to Jesus as Lazarus was. How unfair is that?!”
All the while, we fail to dare to imagine that God might just know more than we do, have wiser plans than we do, and have better timing than we do.
So today, I ask myself again, and even more intensely than usual, “Who knows more, me or God?” The answer is obvious. He is millions of times wiser.
So I’ll trust Him all the more.
This is not to say that during times of heartbreak, we live in denial and slap a fake smile on our faces and quote all the Christian clichés to our friends. No. I’ve gone through a box of Kleenex today, and quite possibly, I’ll go through another tomorrow. I’ve cancelled social engagements for the next few days because I know my heart needs some quiet time to heal.
My selfish reason for writing this post was to encourage my own broken heart to put its hope in Jesus, who is just as worthy of my worship after the bad news phone call as He was after the good news phone call.
My selfless prayer for you is that as you encounter times of suffering, situations that seem totally unfair, and times when you feel like Mary and Martha and want to scream, “Lord, Where are You?!? IF ONLY You had been here!” my prayer is that you will offer your broken pieces to Him, and trust He knows (even more than you do) what’s best for you.
Below are the lyrics to a beautifully crafted worship song by Rita Springer that’s brought me comfort in the past 24 hours. If you’re going through a tough time, I encourage you to soak them up.
Thank you for picking up my pieces and putting me back together. Please introduce little Benjamin to your love, and throughout his life, be the defender of his heart. Amen.
by Rita Springer
You go before I know
That You’ve even gone to win my war
You come back with the head of my enemy
You come back and You call it my victory
You go before I know
That You’ve even gone to win my war
Your love becomes my greatest defense
It leads me from the dry wilderness
And all I did was praise
And all I did was worship
And all I did was bow down
And all I did was stay still
And hallelujah, You have saved me
So much better Your way
And hallelujah, Great Defender
So much better this way
You know before I do
Where my heart can seek to find Your truth
Your mercy is the shade I’m living in
You restore my faith and hope again
When I thought I lost me
You knew where I left me
You reintroduced me to Your love
You picked up all my pieces
Put me back together
You are the defender of my heart