I am writing this in a house buzzing with 6 children ranging in age from 2 to 9.
6 - double the usual number who run through this house.
We are taking care of 3 kids of friends of ours who are struggling to come to terms with a loss.
Their fourth child died in utero 2 weeks before his projected delivery date.
9 months of hopeful anticipation and excitement collided with the silence of a stilled heartbeat amplified through medical machinery.
Our friend had to go through a compounded misery of forced labor, only to birth a son who was not to be.
Felicia and I visited them a few hours after their son was "born".
It was unnerving to have our friend flash her beautiful smile in the sun-filled room that housed the still body of their son.
We hugged and offered up what seemed useless words of comfort.
Felicia held the baby and had to stop herself from rocking the child to calm it.
I shared about how we had announced it in the church service that morning.
I had to pray after the announcement.
The communion elements were set up on a table in front of me.
In my prayer I reflected on how the wine and the bread symbolize death, a broken body and loss.
But, this supper has the paradoxical symbolism of life triumphing over death, of the mending of all that is broken.
We held their son.
We spoke words of comfort and blessing.
And then we left.
Back to the hectic push and pull of a life raising our own three children.
And later on, is when temptation crept in.
You see, around this same time that this infant left us, 2 other families were also planning on welcoming their own brand new offspring into their homes.
1 family delivered a couple of months earlier.
Another is to deliver in a couple of weeks.
And my temptation is this - that life is a random series of events that have absolutely no meaning.
Some children die, others live - and there is no rhyme or reason.
As someone with a graduate degree in theology and years of serving evangelical churches, I know that I am supposed to parrot back statements on providence and sovereignty.
But, this temptation to disbelieve in a God of order and control comes at me with power and force.
And I find it easy to acquiesce and admit that time+chance+matter threw us together and spat us out into this pointless universe.
This morning I met the grandfather of this precious child who slipped away.
He is a wise man.
His wisdom told me, "There is no meaning behind this death. Stop trying to hunt one down."
The apple with teeth marks in it unleashed all the meaninglessness, cruelty and evil from the exile from the garden up to the infected placenta that might have cut off oxygen to the baby last week.
Sin disrupts meaning and rationality.
But, my temptation to join ranks with the writer of Ecclesiastes comes up to the truth of my own experience.
How time after time, God breathes life and hope into rooms and tombs where meaninglessness holds court.
And it is to the resurrecting breath of God that I cling when my temptation comes up again and again in this pock marked life we all live.