The couple in our group who was expecting twins ended up having them months early. They were in the NICU riding an incredibly emotional roller coaster for a long time, until the blessed day when they got to bring the boys home. For a few weeks, this sweet family adjusted to life as a family of five. Then, one of the babies got sick. Really sick. Thomas had a heart condition that worsened, and, after numerous surgeries and procedures, it became really clear that there was nothing else the family could do for him.
Last Monday Jim and I went to a funeral that should never have been. It was the first infant funeral I have ever been to, and I am begging God that it will be the last. As I sat through the service, marveling at the family's strength and faith, I was struck by the fact that the last funeral I attended was my grandfather's. He died at age 88, after living a long, full, and happy life. It made Thomas's funeral even more unsettling. It was so unfair. It was so wrong.
John and Janna have been a pillar of strength and faith through these past many months. They don't think they've done anything marvelous. They don't want attention for their faith. Janna has dutifully kept a blog of their experience, and deep down, I know she wishes that no one would read it and everyone would just go away. But it doesn't work that way. Their grieving has become public and their pain affects everyone.
And really, that's just the way God designed the church. When one member is wounded, everyone hurts. When someone is mourning, we all grieve alongside them. It doesn't always work that way, but it should. The times in the last five years when I have seen the church work the way God intended it, I have been astounded at what God's love looks - and feels - like, being poured out by others. It is like nothing else. I never, ever wish the kind of pain the McGregors have had to endure on anyone. (I know God doesn't want that for us, either.) I do, however, want for everyone who lives through that kind of pain to know the kind of love that I have seen poured out on the McGregor family. I know it pleases our Lord. And I know that John and Janna's desire, through all of their suffering, to see people come to Christ is what our faith is all about. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they will someday hear their God say, "Well done, good and faithful servants."
Thomas's broken heart has left many of us with broken hearts, as well. I'm praying for God to heal and mend in a way that only He can.