When I started this blog after the website went live, I intended to use it to aid spiritual growth and discipleship. I still will in the future. August 22nd was the last blog I posted. Since that time, my family has been through a roller coaster ride of emotions.
As many of you know, August 20th my twin girls were diagnosed with Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. Four days later, Sarah's water broke at 17 weeks (on a Sunday no less!). After an initial hospital stay of 10 days, we were given the news that the girls would not make 20 weeks. Sarah came home and we were broken-hearted. Then an amazing thing happened, the girls kept kicking away. Days turned to weeks, and the girls kept resiliently hanging in there. Many of us thought a miracle would take place. It did. Maggie and Ellen united Christians from all over the world. We were prayed for in tongues by Charismatics; Catholics lit candles for us; and one devout woman of faith fasted for us in Nice, France.
I think these girls united our church as well. You all were and are amazing to our family. We have received hundreds of cards, prayers, and an abundance of love from you. Thank you. Sarah, Abigail, and I love each and every one of you.
Many of you have commented that you have no words after Maggie and Ellen passed away. You do not need any. The groans of the Holy Spirit are enough. The Father knows.
Suffering happens in our broken and fallen world. It is not how it should be. However, scripture over and again gives us a beautiful image of God - shepherd. Many passages both in the Old and New Testaments use this image, but perhaps the most famous is Psalm 23. David, reflecting back on his life, returns to the occupation of his childhood to describe God. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Think about the life David lived - incredible triumphs and disastrous failures. He knew exactly what the valley of the shadow of death felt and looked like. But he could honestly say "I fear no evil, for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." The image of God as shepherd is a God who gets His hands dirty entering the suffering in our broken world. It is a God who takes suffering and weaves purpose and meaning through the suffering. We may not see it for a long time, but our Good Shepherd is guiding us through the pain into newness of life.
Since the girls died, I have prayed this Psalm over and over. Sarah and I hurt, and will hurt for a long while. But I want you to know, our God is with us, Emmanuel.
I love you, and will be returning to the pulpit Sunday. I hope to see you there.