For the sake of spending a moment to talk about the beauty in this world, I want to spend a few words talking about how deeply I love the song “Who you are” by JJ Heller. In a way that expresses the very nature of faith, this song details the lives of two would-be parents. In the first verse, the artist explores the pain of a woman who is 41 years old and desperately wants a baby.:
All she wanted, was a baby to hold,
and she’s still waiting, at forty-one years old,
her life feels like a tragedy,
and its driving her down to her knees
shes praying “I don’t know, I don’t know what your doing,
but I know who you are.”
In the second, she explores the pain of a father who just recently lost his little daughter who will not be coming home from the hospital:
It was after midnight, when he answered the phone,
the doctor said his daughter, was never coming home,
sometimes life doesn’t make any sense, of war and pain
and accident, hes praying “I don’t know, I don’t know what
your doing, but I know who you are.”
Clearly, we don’t know the specifics of the situations in these people’s lives. His daughter could have been a newborn, or been almost a teenager; really, we don’t know. We don’t know whether the lady who wants a baby so badly has been married before, or is able to physically have children; nothing. What we do know is that they are experiencing some sharp and persistently overwhelming grief, and that they find solace in the character of God. The song repeats again and again that they do not know what God is doing. Can we all just take a moment to remember what it’s like to be there, or realize that if you’re there right now, you aren’t alone in that?
The most beautiful part of this song is definitely towards the end, and it focuses on how God knows what it’s like to lose a child.
“You are the fathers heart, and a love that’s wild,
and you know what it’s like to lose, yeah you know what
it’s like to lose, what it’s like to lose a child,
How many of us remember how deeply God has lost? How he sees so many people die everyday? How he lost his own son in our hands? How he endured all that pain of having to give Jesus up unto death?
Maybe I’m putting truth there that doesn’t exist, but I believe that God must be hurt when the world rejects the goodness he tries to bring into it, even when he knows it’s coming. I don’t believe he is a God that distances from our pain. I believe he has an intimate understanding of loss, and grief, and pain. Even then, he is still sovereign over it. God uses the loss of his child to redefine the new covenant; the only way we can get back to him. A parent whose child dies from cancer and God are not so different. Letting go of something so beautiful, part of himself, and watching his son being destroyed; God relates to grieving hearts better than anyone else ever could.
He doesn’t just buoy us up in our brokenness, he is the order and the righteousness that hold’s it all together when literally nothing else will. He gives his love for free, because it has already received its ransom. If you believe in the Trinity and that God and Christ and the Holy Spirit are separate but also all in one, then God gave up a good third of himself unto death so that he could regain us all as his children.
Yes, Jesus rose, and we will rise with him. And I know that the promise of resurrection looks particularly bleak in moments of hell on earth and savage pain that rips right through you. But creeping back into a place of healing, there is something beautiful and utterly divine in that God used such an enormous loss of part of himself to make a way for the rest of us to join him, and truly become family. He gave all he had. He gave of himself. If not for the ground on which Jesus died, we would have been forgotten. What mercy does it take for the one who made the universe to love us so thoroughly that he would send part of himself to have died? And for Christ to have chosen it willingly? We must remember how infinitely God loves us, because he defies limits in a way that is impossible to hold how much love he has stored up in himself in your mind. More than the stars in the sky. On our behalf.
What else does God have to give that he hasn’t given us? We have his likeness, his gifts, his knowledge (somewhat), the patience and endurance of Christ, his righteous mind, his triumph, his lineage, his promises, his protection and provision, his sense of family, a place in his house…can you think of any more? Truly, you and I could work all night and still not have them listed out. When I listen to this song by JJ Heller, I know that my hope is secure in a God who will always have it all “all figured out”. Even in the pain of walking through the death of a child, we are never alone. Only a God who gave so much of himself could have done that.