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.

Here’s why.

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.

And then.

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.

Dear Lord,

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.

Defender

by Rita Springer

[Verse 1]

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

[Verse 2]

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

[Pre-Chorus]

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

[Chorus 1]

And hallelujah, You have saved me

So much better Your way

And hallelujah, Great Defender

So much better this way

[Verse 3]

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

[Bridge]

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

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42 Responses

  1. shari

    I love you. I love this, and I hate this. I’m hurting and trusting with you sister.

    1. Caryn Author

      Thanks, sweet friend, for being with me every step of the way.

  2. Dani

    This message touched my heart deeply and brought back tears from past “hurts” and anger I had at God for not being there for me in the worst of times. First, I want to tell you I love you and continue to be blessed by the wisdom you share in your sermon/blogs. You are such a special lady and for you to open your heart, while still raw, to share a lesson about God…it amazes me. It has taken me years to fully understand that God doesn’t “do this to me” or punish me for my sins and also that He never leaves my side. I finally understand and live by the saying, If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it. I’m still working on my, shall we say curiosity, though. I want , so badly to know the WHY part of God’s plan. I find some comfort in knowing that all will be revealed when my time has come. In the meantime, what a gift God gave you and Benjamin of being Benjamin’s parents for that short time. That little boy, in the midst of chaos, new great love while in your presence. I pray that a seed was planted, deep in his heart, to know God. I also pray for your heart to heal. Love you sweet friend!

    1. Caryn Author

      Oh Dani, I just wanna give you a big hug! Thank you for your kind, vulnerable, strong and inviting heart. Love you!

  3. Paula Zielke

    When our son was in the hospital for forty days I found Habbakuk 3: 17 – 19. Jimmy went home..but to Jesus and not with us. God does hold us and knows our grief as well as He shares our sorrows. But I know that indeed, He IS your strength and He Will help you to walk on high places. Prayers and love Paula

    1. Caryn Author

      Oh Paula, thank you for your strength, your example of trust through immense heartache, and your pointing me to God’s Word. Verse 18 will now be planted in my heart – “YET” I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
      Bless you, dear friend!

  4. Sherry

    Oh dear sweet Caryn, it makes my heart break to read your story. Although his time with was brief, it was with you God trusted to care for this precious child . He has great plans for you, be still and let him heal your hearts so that He can bless you. You’re in my prayers, God bless . 🙏🏻

    1. Caryn Author

      Thanks Sherry, for your encouraging words. Yes, His plans are perfect.

  5. Suzy Berndt

    I know this horrid pain, the empty ache. The heart feeling like it’s being ripped from your chest. I have been where you are at. We were foster parents because I couldn’t keep pregnancies. We have had more babies taken back, even months later. You get the call that you fear would come yet you can’t help falling in love. It just takes one glance, I don’t even think overwhelming love takes that long. I love you, I understand your pain, that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. You and your husband are in my heart and prayers.

  6. Laurie Norris

    So beautifully written Caryn. I love your honesty and trust. You inspire me dear friend. My heart breaks and hopes with you tonight.

    1. Caryn Author

      Thanks, Laurie. To hear I’ve inspired the foster mom who’s inspired me the most really warms my heart. Hugs!

  7. Betty Alford

    Caryn, I bless your loving heart to heal as the days and weeks drift by. I have been where you are. I bless your “mothering heart” to be filled with overflowing love for your forever child.
    💕💕💕

    1. Caryn Author

      Thanks Betty. I feel your big Texas-sized hug in this message. Love you!

  8. Dan Hennenfent

    Will pray for the resurrection in this ‘death’.

    1. Caryn Author

      Thanks a bunch, Dan. Sure means a lot.

  9. Loretta

    The gift that the Lord has given you to express yourself in this situation is amazing. My heart just breaks for you. Love you!

    1. Caryn Author

      Loretta, you are so kind. Thanks for your prayers, and thanks for the nudge to eat some ice cream. 😉

  10. Nikki

    Love you, Caryn. Praying for healing for you and Cristian.

    1. Caryn Author

      Thanks so much sweet friend. Hugs!

  11. Suzy Berndt

    I tried to leave a message earlier but I don’t think it went through. I know your pain, I have had the same pain. Those dreaded phone calls taking a baby back to its family. It’s happened so many times I choose not to count. The anger, the hurt, the grieving, you are in our prayers. If you need to talk, scream, cry, or yell, I understand and am here for you. I love you. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. I had become a bitter woman. I laid flat on my face sobbing and finally gave up what I wanted most, but my heart wanted to be a momma. I started looking in the Bible for the women who were barren. He heard their cries, He hears my prayers. After losing several babies in miscarriage, losing so many babies through foster parenting. I gave up, the walls I had tried to build to protect my heart, came down. I started praying scripture and asking God if you will do this for Elizabeth, for Sarah, and now am drawing a blank on the rest of them. I hear and know your pain. I am here for you. Praying.

    1. Caryn Author

      Thanks Suzy. My heart breaks for you, and know you’ll be in my prayers as well.

  12. Michelle McGuane

    Oh my heart aches for you dear. Praying for you! HE Knows!

    1. Caryn Author

      Thanks Michelle. You’re a prayer warrior, so it brings extra comfort to know you’re praying.

  13. Jolee

    😭I didn’t even know u got the first call…or I would have gone through a box of kleenex too…we will keep trusting u God!!!!!!🙏🏻❤️

    1. Caryn Author

      Thanks, sweet night owl friend!

  14. Karen

    Praying for for you and Christian and for healing. Thank you for sharing your story as incredibly hard as it was. You have healed or are helping others heal just by then reading this. You are an amazing person.

    1. Caryn Author

      Karen (spelled the right way ;)), you are so kind. Thanks for your encouraging words.

  15. Sharon

    Caryn,
    I am very sorry for what you are going through. Your story tugged at my heart and reminded me of how blessed I am with having daughters, grandchildren and now great grandchildren. I will be praying for your healing and that you may also receive these blessings.

    1. Caryn Author

      Thanks Sharon, for your encouragement.

  16. Jessica Ortega

    God bless you, little Benjamin & put his angels around you to guard you and keep you safe – heart, mind, & body.

    So very beautiful, Caryn. Many tears here.

    1. Caryn Author

      Thanks for all your love and support, especially over the past few days!

  17. Jessica

    Caryn, this was so beautiful. Thank you for being so honest. My heart aches for you, but I’m trusting God. Praying for you my friend.

    1. Caryn Author

      Thanks so much!

  18. Annette

    Oh Caryn, I grieve along with you. I know God has a plan, and he has brought both of us out of a very difficult journey. Loosing someone whom we cherished and hoped for, is difficult. In Psalm 56:8, God reminds us He is intimately concerned with every aspect of our lives. God doesn’t judge whether our sorrow is “valid.” But because of His compassion, He catches every tear that is shed. It doesn’t matter how big or small, trivial or important, the sorrow might be.

    1. Caryn Author

      Wow, Nettie. I’m speechless. And humbled. And comforted. Bless you, dear friend.

  19. Rebecca

    Caryn, I read this with great joy for you and then my heart sank deep for you. We don’t really know each other well, but I will tell you that you have touched my heart many a time through your blogs. I love your faith yet can’t even fathom how it has been tested over the past few days. All I have to offer is prayer and love from your sister in Christ. God knows.

    1. Caryn Author

      Rebecca, Thank you so much for you sweet words of encouragement and your prayers. The sting is a little less each day, and you’re so right. God knows.

  20. C. Anderson

    Thank you for this blog. Thank you for being you. So sorry and so proud of you too. Powerfully and beautifully shared my friend.

    1. Caryn Author

      Cindy, Your words mean a ton to me. Thanks, friend!

  21. Stacy Coursey

    I, like so many others here, was overwhelmed with great joy for you and Christian!!! Yes it has finally happened, my precious sister in Christ, who has waited so long, yes, she has received her child! To see you holding precious Benjamin! My heart leaped with joy for you! My heart truely truely aches for you at the loss of Benjamin, your son Benjamin. I love you my friend! Much love and prayers!

    1. Caryn Author

      Stacy, It’s so sweet of you to reach out. Thanks so much for your concern and your prayers. Our hearts are healing and our hope is being restored more each day. Bless you!

  22. Pat Walker

    My heart hurts for you and Cristian. I pray that God will heal your heart. Love you both 🙏🏼💕

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