One of the things that has surprised some people about us (myself and Jacqueline) during this tough time for us, has been that we have not missed a single Sunday morning meeting. Sometimes it is right for those who are grieving to have space away from everyone; indeed our elders told us clearly that if we needed to we could stay away for a week or two. We considered this option seriously, and nearly went down this route, but in the end I decided against it.
The Church is the family of God. Who do you gather around you during a tough time, if it is not your family? As Matthew says on his blog today, it is when you have a few knocks that what is really inside you is revealed. Is the church as the family of God just a nice theory for us, or is it reality? The Church, Paul says, is a body, though it is made up of many parts, it is one. When one part suffers, the whole body suffers with it. I felt strongly that this was not a time to withdraw, but on the contrary, a time to engage with the body and embrace all the healing and love that they were more than willing to give. Theology is not just meant to edify the mind, but to guide your steps. In fact theology that has no bearing on how you live your life is worthless!
This is not to say that this has been easy for us. Jacqueline in particular has found Sundays quite hard. The well-meaning sympathy, brings all the emotion to the surface, when you would rather something so personal was not on public display. Never-the-less she has willingly submitted to my decision, and agrees it is the right thing to do. It would be hard whenever we came back to the meetings.
I hope also, that we have been a provocation to others. I may not have a label or a recognised title in the church, but I am a leader. I lead by example. If we, who have lost a baby, can still make it to the meeting on Sunday, I hope it will cause others to examine some of the reasons which keep them away! Not to condemn, but to provoke.
One thing that gives me great satisfaction in how we as a family have come through this tough time, is that our theological convictions have been tested and proven. We do not believe and confess one thing when things are going well, and another when calamity strikes, but the same truths that have sustained us in the good times, were there like solid rock for us in the tough times too.
One of the best compliments I have received for a while came from one of the folks on my Daniel class. He said, "When you were teaching from Daniel, I could tell that this was something you have lived through." Amen. God spare us from theology that cannot be lived through!