Emmanuel in the Midst of Grief

“I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears.” Psalm 6;6

We had a failed adoption last month.

We drove a sweet baby boy home in our minivan, my hands pressed over my mouth to temper my excitement. The next day, I found myself balled up in the same minivan, hands pressed over my mouth trying to hold back my ugly sobs.

The social worker wrestled to unlatch the car seat in order to take back custody. I couldn’t watch. I couldn’t help. My own spirit was wrestling to unlatch him from my heart. He was screaming, I was shaking, and the social worker was timidly whispering apologies before she drove away with our ‘Maybe Baby’.

No words could reach the uncharted space now exposed in my heart. This was a new kind of sorrow—a raw wound inflicted. I felt no one could understand if they hadn’t experienced this exact situation. I was so certain that no one on the planet—the universe—the cosmos—could ever ‘get it’. I lay face down on the surrender spot next to my bed, and sobbed out loud…

Lord, I know you’re trying to comfort me, but you can’t understand. You’ve never had a failed adoption…

Sweet Jesus, I can be so ignorant. My Father God hasn’t had a single failed adoption—he’s had thousands. Our God, in his self-sacrificing love, literally died on a cross to make us his sons and daughters. It’s his heart’s desire that all people accept this truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4). Sadly, not everyone does. And here I was, accusing him of not being able to understand my grief. I had grief over the loss of one. He’s had grief over a multitude.

God didn’t bring this truth to my spirit so I’d feel foolish, but to reveal there’s no anguish he doesn’t understand. This was a new kind of ache for me, but not for Him. He carries all the sorrow of the world on his shoulders. I’ll never be able to wrap my brain around the mysterious way God manifests absolute joy as he simultaneously pours out tears of lament, but he does. And because I am adopted by him, he carries my sorrow, too. And because he sent his Son to earth, he empathizes with it.

He broke through history and time to dwell among us—to demonstrate that he understands what it means to be human. Isn’t that what the Christmas season illuminates?

Christmas celebrates the awesome jaw-dropping truth of Emmanuel, “God with us”. Whatever pain or trial you may be experiencing, don’t let the enemy tell you that you’re alone. God ‘gets it’. He’s been there on a much deeper level than you could even imagine.

We planned on keeping this baby forever.

Even when our plans fail, God’s promises prevail.

He is still “God with us”. He will never leave us nor forsake us through the uncertainty. This season, I’m focusing on the ‘baby’ sent to reign in my heart forever.

We’ve had people ask if we’d ever accept another placement. Honestly, my heart is begging not to be laid bare in this way again. However, I’m reminded that Emmanuel understands the human experience—the laughter, the agony, the elation, the toil.

Every effort is used to summon us to the heart of God—to help us understand his great love for the world and spur us to action. He inspires us to love fiercely and to fearlessly embrace vulnerability…for it was the vulnerability of the cradle that led to the victory on the cross.

“Sing a new song to the LORD, for he has done wonderful deeds. His right hand has won a mighty victory; his holy arm has shown his saving power!” Psalm 98:1

by Jenna Masters