Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
This past weekend was Thanksgiving here in Canada. I have so many things to be thankful for – I wake up each morning in a warm house, in a beautiful little town, with my husband and daughter. I know how fortunate I am.
At the same time, it’s hard to give thanks right now. It’s hard for me to feel thankful in all things. Which, as a Christian, I’m called to do. I don’t know how I’m supposed to be thankful for the loss of a baby – or if that’s even what I’m supposed to strive for.
In the days before Pearl’s birth I remember reading the story of the fiery furnace in Daniel 3 and being comforted by the fact that we worship a God who enters the furnace with us. We were saved from that furnace and given a healthy baby. The men in Daniel were also saved; although they were thrown to the fire, they were unharmed.
So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire…They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
Daniel 3: 26b, 27b
But what do you do when you are not saved from the fire?
I don’t think I’m expected to give thanks for the fire itself. I do believe that my God weeps with me. The Bible never ever chastises the mournful. Jesus himself wept at Lazarus’ tomb (John 11). In Exodus 23, the Promised Land is described as a place where none are barren and there is no miscarriage. Clearly we don’t live there yet. I find it comforting that God’s perfect plan doesn’t involve the loss of my baby. And I find it confusing that an omnipotent God allowed that loss.
“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
In Daniel, the men declare that they believe God will rescue them. But even if He doesn’t, they will not turn from Him. They are thrown into the fire and a fourth figure is seen in the furnace with them. That is the strange and confusing and beautiful part of our faith. We are not always saved from the fire but we are never alone in it.
I will not be burned up by this fire. I will not bow down to the gods of grief and loss. I am here right now but this is not my forever. Slowly, slowly, I will give thanks. God help me.
This weekend we skipped town for a couple of days with some very wonderful friends in Victoria. Pearl’s first trip to the place where Peter and I met and fell in love and spent the first year of our marriage.
We were fortunate enough to be able to fly by seaplane from Sechelt, which makes the trip so much faster. Pearl’s first time on a seaplane went very well, though she refused to wear the ear protection they provided for her.
There was a lot we didn’t get to do in our quick trip but we did get to catch up with some of my favourite people, meet a new-ish baby, visit my old workplace/Canada’s largest bookstore, and walk a little through a lovely city.
Also, Pearl discovered she can put her hands in her pockets so please enjoy one of my favourite pictures ever:
There is a lot to be thankful for.