July 9.

Today is the seventh July 9th since the July 9th that I flew from Italy to London.  I touched down, and drove to our destination, and turned my phone onto the wifi and heard the soft ping of the message letting me know it was finished.  He was gone.

I sat in a room by myself for a few moments, and heard strange sounds coming out of me that were sobs I supposed, but felt fake.  And then I got up quietly and left the 15+ women I was leading on a mission trip to get on a train to get to my sister’s house.  I sat in the fading rain, waiting for her to pick me up from the station, my heart hollow and numb and absently watched as the clouds parted and the light and mist turned into a rainbow.

It was ours, that moment.  Mine and His.  The first message He gave me in suffering, that He has given me a million times since then: I am here.  I see you.  

That colored band in the sky pushed air into my lungs, kept the nausea at bay.  My sister and I were together for less than 48 hours, most spent trying to get my other sister back to us from my father’s house across the world.  And then I took the train back to the women I was leading and we all got on a plane and flew back to America.  I went back to work.

Here I am, seven years later.  I am different in a billion ways I could describe and a billion more I don’t even know about yet.  The loss of my father tossed me into a different road, it altered the course of my life.

I went to counseling. I learned about grief. I learned that, when I am weeping, my sovereign God is generally less interested in explaining to me how suffering works and more interested in telling me how He feels about it.  I learned that my God rages against death, and never uses faith to make peace with things that are wrong.  I learned the price of the Gospel – the loss of one you cannot live without.  I learned what a horrific misuse of that Gospel it is to try to use it like an anesthetic.

Oh the lessons I have learned since that July 9th.  How thankful I am for those lessons.  But how confident I am that while the lessons are good, death is still bad, wrong – deeply and desperately against the fabric of this soul that He knit together in my mother’s womb.

I like to imagine that on that July 9th, my Jesus gripped the edge of His throne, fingers clenched and heart tense, hungry to come back and save me from a world with sin and death; to save me from pain.  I can almost hear the Heavenly negotiations and the voice of divine patience speaking the clear calm sober truth: there is no other wayThere is no other way to give her what she will need to survive what will come next. 

And oh, how deeply thankful I am for the way God moved in the months that followed, for all that He gave in the wake of that loss. I would need the provision I gained in that dark season to survive the dark seasons that had yet to come.

Not worth it.  Death is never worth it.  My Father is worth far too much to be outweighed by lessons learned.

But that loss was used.  Redeemed.  Unwasted.

Not all things are good.  But all things bend to the will of this good God, who spins darkness and death into life.

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