Currently, I’m in sunny Florida on a short writing project. While here, I’ve been spending time with the community of Mosaic. Tonight, this church is gathered for worship and a time of prayer. Two members of the church community, Kevin and Lindsey, are facing unimaginable pain and a devastating reality. Tomorrow morning, Lindsey will deliver her baby girl, Dasah, who is expected to die shortly after birth because of a condition known as acrania, meaning that in utero she did not develop a skull.
The pain is magnified by the fact that only a year ago, Kevin and Lindsey lost a child. Sophia, their firstborn, died only 10 hours after birth from a similar condition. I can only imagine the exhaustion and the painful anticipation of tomorrow’s events.
In light of the looming tragedy, the church family is gathered in Kevin and Lindsey’s home to ask for grace.
They aren’t just asking for grace that somehow, miraculously Dasah will live. They don’t simply ask for grace for the pain of tonight. The community gathers together to ask for the gracious God to be grace in every corner of their lives. Kevin and Lindsey are asking to be sustained. They are asking for deep comfort that transcends the immense amount of pain. The church is not just asking that Kevin and Lindsey will survive, but that they will be carried by a God who is stronger than their feelings of defeat.
There are those times when God is too large for us to hold on to, and in these moments, he graciously holds on to us. Now is one of those times, where God holds this community in his strong hands.
The worshipping community may ask questions in an effort to understand. They may gather and listen for a word from God. But more than anything, this church is meeting not to try and stop a tragedy, but to commune with God in the midst of tragedy. With their lives, they are expressing what we have to do in a place of complete desperation—we have to pray. We have to come to God. We have to come in a place of fear and anxiety and confusion and say, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you!”
The trauma is greater than anything Kevin and Lindsey have the resources to bear. The difficulty is too large to bury or push aside. There is no way to prepare for a heartache that comes with irreparable loss.
So, they pray. And they sing. And they recall the goodness of God in the middle of crisis after crisis. And they look to trust that same God who created and continues to create. They come together because there is some hope that even in the worst of all possible circumstances, fear and death do not have the last word.
Our understanding of grace is too small.
Our understanding of God’s presence is too limited.
The pain is immeasurable, but so is the grace God will give.
The ache will be palpable, but so will the presence of God.
Coming before God in praise and desperation—this is the broken path of worship. We never deny our pain but we never deny God’s goodness.
Worship is the place where pain and hope find a voice.
And somehow, in Kevin and Lindsey’s living room tonight, God holds together a church family by calling them to worship.
Right now, as they sing, God fights off hopelessness. While they pray, God is immanent.
God is moving now because God loves Kevin and Lindsey even more than their closest friends. God is near not because the community asks him to be, but because this is who God is. We trust in a God who comes to Lindsey before she even asks him to. And tonight, as his people pray and sing and cry and seek God, he infuses them with a stronger trust and a deeper faith.
The pain is real. The grace is bigger. The loss is insurmountable. But we have a God who is limitless.
“Lead me to a rock that is higher than I am” says the psalmist.
Take me beyond where I myself am able to go.
Give me what I need but don’t know how to ask for.
Provide your presence in the cavernous cracks in our hearts.
Hold Lindsey and Kevin with arms of mercy and comfort.
And remind all of those gathered that you are the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But you are also the God of Dasah.
Lord, have mercy.