I have had several friends over the years named Jessica. This post revolves around three of them. I have never had anything like this happen before. Over the course of one month, all three of them lost a family member. On March 23, Jessica C lost her father after a long battle with cancer. On April 14, Jessica S lost her mother after a long battle with cancer. And on April 25, Jessica H lost her baby through a miscarriage. Each one of those stories have their own circumstances to make it extra painful. Jessica C's dad died on Easter, which is also her oldest son's birthday. Jessica S is only 21 years old. And I did the pre-marital counseling for Jessica H - her first anniversary is in June.
I have lost all four of my grandparents - at 11, 13, 16, and 28. My father passed away when I was 24. We lost a baby in between Josiah and Natalie. So I have felt both of those pains - which only makes me more aware of the pain these sweet women are feeling. In each case, I felt like I was punched with grief for them. When you see your friend crumble to the ground when they get the phone call, or when you read their pained expressions of grief online and you know that they are desperately trying to cling to hope --- those situations make you wish you could take the pain on yourself. You want to hug them and pull that hurt out of them. And as you watch them moving forward, knowing their lives are forever changed, you can't help but ache.
All three of these women are incredibly sweet, generous, and wonderful people - people I treasure and am glad to have had in my life. They bless people all around them and radiate the love of God. Not that we would ever wish pain on anyone, but people like these sweet women - those are the people we never want to see get hurt. I was thinking about how weird it was that all three of them shared a name. Curious for a moment, I looked up what Jessica meant. It is a Hebrew name that means "God Sees." What an incredible thought that is.
God sees. He sees the pain. He sees the loss and confusion and hurt. He sees it all. He is not blind or asleep. It doesn't say "God Saw" or "God Will See." It is God Sees. He always sees. He sees everything. In the darkest night or brightest day, in the coldest season or sunny vacation. God always sees. And He sees in a way so unlike we see. He sees our hearts and sees our pain. I know the temptation is to ask Him why He didn't stop it. I have asked that before. It reminds me of the song "Hard to Get" by Rich Mullins. The whole song is basically asking Jesus why he lets the pain go on, since He was human and knows what it feels like. At one point he sings, "I know it would not have hurt any less, even if it could be explained." Even if we understand the whys and hows, the pain is still real.
I take comfort in the fact that God sees. That means that this did not go unnoticed. He was aware, and that means He can come to our comfort. He can heal those wounds, and draw the hurting ones close to Himself. He can provide strength and peace. He can show that we are not alone, that there are friends who will help us through. And He is always there. Always seeing. And He saw our loved ones, and saw them enter into His rest - free from pain and complete. That is the essence of the hope of the Gospel. No matter what, God sees and is an ever-present help in times of trouble and sorrow. It seems like such a small thing to offer someone when they are hurting - but it is all we can do. We can hold them, pray for them, and remind them that God sees.