Worship When it Hurts
Infant loss is a unique kind of pain. It has many faces and forms. None of which are easy. And at some point in the journey, you learn how to live okay in each moment, missing your baby.
I chuckle with joy in my heart when I think about having a 7, 5, and 4 year old. The fullness our hands, our home, and our hearts would have.
Losing my daughter Ellanie has been life's greatest heartache. She was diagnosed with Anencephaly, a rare and fatal neural tube defect, when I was 20 weeks pregnant with her. And while God has used her story faithfully to bear fruit, I certainly didn't want to be used for the Kingdom in that way.
Our children are old enough now to be curious about her and miss her too. Mostly, about her home in Heaven. And about why she couldn't stay here. And just why God allows bad things to happen in general. It’s especially difficult to explain that one. But there's beauty in painful explanations. There's hope in the dark corners where clarity lies. Parenting through infant loss is hard too. But that's a whole different post for another day.
Questions like, “Mommy, do you think me and Ellanie would share all of our clothes and shoes? I’d definitely share my room with her!” Or "Mommy, I wish Ellanie was here right now! Can she see me?" For whatever reason, those little things have stung lately like never before.
Sacrificing her was the hardest thing I’ve had to do and I’ve held on tight. To her story. To her memory. To the parts of my soul that still felt it was unfair and incomplete for our family to live without her.
But ultimately, I know He has used the journey we have walked to bring others walking the same road to healing hope in Christ. In praying for this continually, I've felt the same peace overwhelm me that I felt in the hospital after they took her from my arms and I sat. Broken hearted. Empty handed.
I knew then and He continues to show me even now, that sacrifice is the greatest form of worship.
His Word reveals beautiful examples of obedience through sacrifice such as in Genesis 22 through the testing of Abraham. Though I’ve heard this story many times, I saw it with a renewed heart and fresh perspective after I lost my baby. The Father, in His loving-kindness, positioned it to me as a reminder that before the Lord can sharpen our faith in such a way that shapes our future, we must walk in purposeful obedience, even when we don't feel like it. Our heart must be willing to sacrifice that which we love most.
Before Abraham even climbed mountain of Moriah to offer Isaac as a burnt offering to the Lord, he had already sacrificed him in his heart. How else could he have had the strength to climb that mountain with his son alongside, all the while knowing what he would have to do?!
Abraham called the sacrifice he was going to give, worship. Worship?!
He told the men journeying with him, in verse 5, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go yonder and worship.” How, without fully trusting that God would come through, could he have called the slaying of his heart’s greatest love, worship?
It is in the same way as Jesus had already sacrificed himself before walking to Calvary. Just as he worshiped in the midst of his fear in the garden of Gethsemane. Despite what He knew was coming...
I’m challenged every day, when experiencing those fleshly feelings of wanting Ellanie here, by the faith journey of Abraham and mostly, Christ. For the sacrifice of obedience they made that was the greatest form of worship they could offer.
Because don’t we all know that it’s easier to worship in response to what God has already done?
But when you’re living on the other side of the completed work? When you’re making the hard sacrifice, but can’t yet see the fulfillment of blessings for the future- and you’re still able to worship...That’s obedience.
And that’s the legacy I want to leave for my Ellanie. I want to continue to give meaning to her life through the life I live here. Worshipping Him, in this short term place.