Saturday, October 12, 2013

A peace that surpasses all understanding

I've been at a loss for words the past few days.

With the death of my friend's daughter, Selah, it seems like Eva's death and the darkness afterwards have just caught up to me. And my words feel trivial.

Selah's funeral was yesterday in Uganda. Her parents posted pictures on facebook and her memorial video as well as the eulogy that her dad and mom read.

When I prayed for a peace beyond all understanding for them I had no idea what it would really look like. It appears that Dave and Janna have showed me a peace that surpasses all understanding in how they are grieving their precious Selah.

I did not have that peace when Eva died. Or did I? Maybe in the beginning I did. But as time progressed I struggled more and more with anger. I let that peace go.

The grace and strength that Dave and Janna have showed the world is truly extraordinary. Extraordinary because that grace and strength is God given, I know. I hated it when people called me strong after Eva died. Because I knew that I possessed no strength. And anything I did have was a straight gift from God.

I know that when Eva died my heart was shattered and I wept every single day for eleven months. I somehow skipped one day at 11 months and then wept every single day after that for the next several months.

A few things stuck out to me when Janna was remembering her Selah. One was that before her daughter died she thought that if one of her children should die she would sink in to a grief that rendered her insane and unable to care for her other children. It's amazing how God keeps us stepping one foot in front of the other when the unthinkable happens to us. Before Eva died I never imagined any of my children dying but if I had I would have been sure that I couldn't survive. Now I am equally as sure that I could survive the death of another one of my children. Survive. Barely. But, yes, survive. Because now I know God doesn't give you the grace to accomplish something until you are called to endure it.

The other thing that stuck out to me was something I had already been thinking about but Janna was able to articulate particularly well...that 34 days with Selah was enough. Not because that's all she wanted with Selah but because that's all God gave her. And that had to be enough. Because God knows what he is doing, even in the storm.

To quote Ann Voskamp Peace isn't the absence of the dark it is God's presence in the midst of the dark.

And that is what a peace that surpasses all understanding looks like. God. God's presence in the midst of the darkness.


  1. I'm sorry your friends have lost their child too.

    I really don't buy this though. I think God didn't originally envisage a world with death at all - it came with man and sin. The idea that God has a masterplan that says Catherine gets 3 years and Eva get 10 months wasn't His plan at all.

    I also don't think God gave us the strength to survive - I think we just always had it in there. Of course we didn't think we could - because no one wants to contemplate what it woudl be like to outlive our kids - but what about people who kill themselves or just get sick from the stress - did God not give them the resources to survive because we are more blessed... nope - just don't buy it....

    1. Susan, I'm not saying I understand it. I'm just saying these are my feelings. And I totally wondering why some survive and some don't. I wonder why our daughters died and others live. I wonder why some families starve to death in other countries while here we celebrate thanksgiving with a big meal. I just don't get it. Am I more blessed? In some ways yes, in some ways no. I don't claim to understand. I'm just doing the best I can and muddling through life like we all are. And trusting.

  2. I have so many thoughts running around my head about this but I can't order them well enough to add an articulate comment. But I'll try.

    I saw Selah's eulogy, as you know, and it was absolutely beautiful.

    Perhaps the grief process cycles through in perfect timing? Perhaps the peace comes, and goes, or takes longer or shorter to arrive for others. I think, always, there is so much more that we just don't see. I think the anger and the devastation, and the tears (oh so many tears, every day for 9 1/2 months here so far), maybe all of it is as it needs to be, in that moment? Even if it doesn't look like strength, or doesn't look "nice" or even "appropriate".

    I do believe that the amount of time we get is perfect. What else could it be? Even if it is not what we expected. If I'd had one more day would it have hurt less? One more year? No, it couldn't hurt more or less than it does, and I'm grateful for every moment.

    1. A3B, A lot of this post stemmed from some of our chats where we discussed the amount of time our children lived. I know you remember. Still trying to wrap my mind around it and Janna just added to it. Remembering Ryan always.

  3. Anella, my heart is overflowing with the Love for the Lord while reading this post. This is truly another gift from the Lord from Selah's little life. ♥ you !!!

    1. I'm not sure how to respond to this Christa. But thank you for commenting. I appreciate it when people take the time to comment on what they have read here. And yes, the peace that surpasses all understanding in Janna and Dave is a gift but I also know that they are suffering deeply and I don't want to invalidate their suffering because of whatever gift I may have received from Selah's life and her death. Make sense? Or am I muddying the waters even more?

  4. Sigh... their daughter only died a few days ago - they are in shock...bereaved parents don't recover peace or closure or whatever you want to call it - the process of healing takes years, not days....

    I think the idea that people here think that a small child's death is a gift from God is creepy. Lets hope they would be so happy to see one of their kids die if it meant spreading the Love of the Lord so well :(

    1. I know Susan. It always sounds strange when people are thankful for the death of other people's children. And while I cannot thank God for the death of Eva (or Catherine, or Selah) I can thank him for the gifts we have been given through Eva's death. And, as Eva's mom, that is my choice. I have a hard time with other people being thankful for the gifts they may have received through Eva's death and my suffering. However, even in the moments after she died and it continues to be our prayer, that Eva's sick heart would bring many hearts to Jesus. For me, that is the ONLY worthwhile gift to be gained from Eva's death. That there would be one more person who knows the Lord through Eva's life and her death.
      However, yes, I also know that Selah's parents are in shock. But I also remember that I felt the very touch and presence of God at Eva's funeral. And that carried me through a lot of the early days. The anger came later. But I'm trying to not be consumed by it. And, well, I think that's enough for this one little comment. I