Come and See

One year ago today, Preston and I were lying next to one another on a pullout chair in the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He was cradling Evelyn’s tiny 6 pound body on his broad chest when she took her last breath, ushering her into eternity. We held her for a long time afterwards, just staring, holding her, desperately soaking in every touch, trying to sear her precious image into our minds. Because our time with her was done on this side of heaven. And it was hard to say goodbye.

For many reasons, today is a day of great sadness in our family. We miss our daughter. Oh, how we miss her. Tears are still shed. Longings are left unfulfilled. Questions remain.

But with the most tender of mercies, the Lord has been drawing my attention to another little baby today. A tiny child who lay in a manger two thousand years ago, making his grand, humble entrance into our world, bringing with him the very presence of God, full of light and love. He came to serve, love, redeem, forgive, rescue, and restore. It was a day of good news for all the people.

Throughout our journey over the past 12 months, people have often commented on our strength and inspiration in the face of tragedy. But truly, we must defer all credit where credit is due.

Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 4:7-11, But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

We are nothing more than jars of clay. Merely common vessels.

But through faith, we have been filled with a priceless treasure. His name is Jesus. And his power is our very real source of strength and hope. Without him, we would be a mess.

It’s my most earnest prayer today, on the anniversary of Evelyn’s death, that people would ultimately be drawn to Jesus.

One of my recent favorite passages in scripture was the time Jesus called Philip and Nathanael to be his disciples. It goes like this (John 1:43-51):

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”

Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

Right now I feel like Philip. Trying to tell everyone that I’ve found Jesus. He’s the promised savior who came into the world, died, rose again, and lives in those who believe. But you must come and see for yourself. And the amazing thing is, Jesus already sees you and knows you. He found you first.

Would you come to him?

Merry Christmas.

(P.S. I’ve been listening to this song, weeping, praising Jesus, all while writing this post. Be blessed…)

Trusting God Through Trials: A Series

Have you ever bought a new car only to suddenly realize that a lot of other people drive that car too? It’s weird. It’s not like tons of people coincidentally purchased the exact same vehicle at the exact same time as you did. It’s actually just your perspective that has changed. Now that you have your shiny new car (or your less-than-shiny used car…sorry, pre-owned car), you become more aware of that particular vehicle all around you.

I feel like the same is true for facing trials. Once you go through a suffering season, your perspective changes in tremendous ways, and you become acutely aware of other hurting people around you.

And let me assure you, there are a lot of hurting (and healing) people around you right now, whether or not you’re aware.

I’m astounded at the number people in my life who have stories to share. Powerful stories filled with deep heartache that dawns with the light of magnificent redemption. I’ve personally been impacted by their testimonies. By God’s grace, I’m changed in some way because of them. My faith in Jesus is stronger now than it was before encountering their journey.

In 2nd Corinthians 1:3-5, the Apostle Paul writes, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ,” (emphasis added).

Amazingly, God doesn’t waste our trials. He meets us right in the thick of them. He comforts us with a fatherly compassion. And then, he makes a way for that comfort to overflow from our lives into someone else’s hurting heart. In a miraculous way, it draws us to each other and to Jesus. We receive comfort and Jesus receives glory.

I need to soak in that for a minute…

Suffering binds people to each other. And ultimately it binds us to Jesus, the true suffering servant, who died on the cross to endure our sin, so that we can be free to live at peace with God, even now, with a joyous hope that will carry us into eternity.

Have you gone through something hard? Let God meet you in the dark pit and comfort you with his perfect love. And then, allow that comfort to touch other peoples’ hearts, so that they can experience Jesus too.

I’m honored to begin sharing some beautifully dissonant stories with you in a new series titled “Trusting God Through Trials”. I pray that the words from these precious people will draw you closer to one another and to Jesus.

Stay tuned…