As Lori and I teased one another over our "Due Dates", which appeared to coincide with one another, we had fun imagining our family boarding a plane while she was delivering Matthew across the country. We had walked through the last year together, commenting on one another's blogs, and Lori has been a true support to me as we have jumped over hurdles and had our highs and lows.
Matthew was so longed for, so cherished...and Lori's blog has been a testament of her devotion to her then as-yet-unborn first child, her dear son. It was a great joy of mine to read along as she posted about his nursery, wrote her public letters to baby Matthew and shared her heart with all of us.
In our darkest hours such as this, nothing makes sense. It is natural to rail against God, to question and doubt...after all...it begs the age old question of how would a good, kind and just God allow such things to happen. "Where is God in this?" we rightly ask. We want to make sense out of something that is senseless. We want to assign blame. We want for it not to be random, just something that happens as a part of living in this world. For "Randomness" is scary, it is uncontrollable, it leaves us vulnerable.
Lori and John are suffering greatly this night. Dreams are shattered, hearts are crushed, and they will return to their home with empty arms, the vision of a happy homecoming that was so anticipated has vanished.
Where is God in this?
God is in those on Facebook who shared the heartbreak with one another, gathered in this cyber community of love and support that is very, very real. God is circling John and Lori as they cling to one another in their grief...their love is the Spirit surrounding them. God is in the thoughtful way that hopefully others in their "real life" will care for them, reach out for them, and nurture them through this incredibly difficult time.
And God was with little Matthew, reaching out arms to embrace this little one, who for whatever reason, was not meant to live with his earthly mother and father longer than the 9 months he resided within Lori.
Sometimes there is no reason. Sometimes things just happen. Sometimes there is only randomness.
But we change that randomness to purposefulness with our own actions. We, being God's people, bring God into the midst of sadness...and yes, randomness. Through our willingness to walk hand in hand with Lori and John during this incredibly painful time, we usher in God's presence. By our embracing our friends who are mindless with grief at this moment, we can lift them up and carry them as in the Footprints poem, when they can not yet lift themselves up.
That, my friends, is where God is in all of this.
Matthew's pain was very short lived during his oh-so-brief time here in this world. John and Lori's will sadly linger for the remainder of their lives. It will never fully leave them, though they will undoubtedly one day be able to put one foot in front of the other and move on. They will never forget Matthew.
Neither will we.
It is in this communal remembering that we create a place for Matthew's life to have meaning. We who followed Lori and John's pregnancy along with them, who rejoiced in reading every word of their love for their son...it is we who find meaning in his birth and death by sharing with one another how touched we were by the journey this entire family has been on.
In Matthew Chapter 18, versus 1-5 we read: At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them,and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
Matthew was welcomed long before he physically was delivered. He has now entered the kingdom of Heaven. And those who welcomed him for his brief time here welcomed God as well.
As our hearts ache tonight, let us not forget God's presence and our job in the coming days, weeks and months to ease the burden for John and Lori. Let us speak of Matthew often, for it is when, in our own discomfort, we ignore his existence that we bring more pain. For he will never be forgotten by his loving parents, and they want to know that his life mattered...that their loss is acknowledged and carried by others. Let us not forget Lori in her time of need, as she had never forgotten those of us who continued on our adoption journeys long after she left our path.
God bless you, Matthew Ennis. God bless John and Lori.
May peace be with you tonight, and always.