Friday, September 7, 2012

Peniel

It's strange-- tragedy is usually the best of instructors. I guess this is why Hamlet is so much more interesting to study than Much Ado About Nothing. And why every narrative told in the history of the world sends its hero or heroine through some dark period.

A year or so ago, I started to pray earnestly for wisdom. I believe fiercely in a God who answers prayer, and I take very literally the words of Solomon in Proverbs 4: "The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding." So, I'm not sure why I was so blindsided by my miscarriage-- though, I guess like the camper who comes prepared with a flashlight cannot truly understand the frightening nature of the dark, one cannot truly experience the depth of tragedy if one is prepared for it.

So, about four months ago, I lost a baby. You can call it a fetus if you'd like, an embryo even, but to me-- it was a life. I had started to think of names, to envision how this new little one would fit into our world. I even bought a Big Sister t-shirt for Avery. (It came in the mail four days after the miscarriage.) And then. And then. And then. I will spare you all the gruesome details-- suffice it to say that, despite my having zero risk factors and already having had one perfectly average pregnancy, it turned out that my little baby, my little life, was growing where it could not possibly thrive.

At the time, I was reading Genesis and an old story struck me anew-- the story of Jacob as he wrestles with God. (Genesis 32:24-32) The story begins with Jacob being left alone. He began with 15 other people, and that night as he stands on the threshhold of the Promised Land, he is alone. In the dark. While I personally was surrounded by plenty of loving, supportive people, I felt like Jacob. Alone. And simply because, as the only person who could physically feel the life inside of me die, no one else could fully share my grief. And, just as Jacob had to face God alone, I think sometimes we must individually deal with God so as to be like Job when he says, "My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen You" (Job 42:5).

Now, I find verses 30-31 especially beautiful: "Jacob then named the place Peniel, 'For,' he said, 'I have seen God face to face, and I have been delivered.' The sun shone on him as he passed by Peniel-- limping on his hip."

The sun is beginning to rise, and while I still limp, I have seen my living God work. C.S. Lewis says, "But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” When I should have been eaten alive with grief, I felt supernatural peace. When I felt alone, God used others to encourage and fortify me. As I wrestled with God over the past few months, He has spoken to my soul. I know He IS.

"But You, LORD, are a shield around me,
my glory, and the One
who lifts up my head.
I cry aloud to the LORD,
and He answers me
from His holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again because the LORD sustains me."
Psalm 3:3-5