On December 14, 2016, my wife gave birth to our first child, Mirra Grace.
For almost five years, we had been praying for this moment. After a long journey of infertility and two miscarriages, God graciously gave us this long-awaited gift. Tears of joy flooded our eyes on that early morning, and we celebrated God’s faithfulness.
Hours later, we noticed our daughter’s face beginning to turn blue. Not knowing if this was normal, we asked the nurses about it and they brought her to the nursery for monitoring. After monitoring and having an MRI done of her brain, our doctor came and shared with us the results.
“Your daughter had a severe stroke. She will need to be airlifted to Orlando for treatment. I am sorry.” In one crushing moment, our tears of joy immediately became tears of sorrow.
For two weeks, we lived in the back-and-forth of hope and despair in the NICU. By God’s grace, our daughter is home now and developing as a normal three-month-old. But in the most difficult two weeks of our lives, we experienced a sweet nearness of the Lord’s presence that made the truths of Scripture a deeper reality than we had ever experienced.
Good to Be Near God
The descent into the valley of despair comes in many ways. It could come by an unexpected phone call with the devastating news of a lost loved one. Or perhaps by the police coming to your door in the middle of the night with bad news. For me and my wife, we careened toward that valley from the peaks of excitement and joy.
Regardless of how it comes, whendespair comes, Christians need a God big enough to bring comfort to our pain. We need to know God’s sovereign, intimate, merciful, immanent, all-wise power over our pain — we must know the God of the Bible. Even in the valley of despair, we will fear no evil as long as we know the comforting staff of our Good Shepherd (Psalm 23:4; John [10:11]).
1. God knows our every tear.
God is particularly near to the broken-hearted in Scripture. He knows our tears of sorrow intimately. When David asked the Lord to “put my tears in your bottle,” he recognized both God’s sovereignty in suffering, as well as his faithful presence in the midst of suffering. Knowing these big truths, David no longer feared man, and he praised God according to his word (Psalm 56:8–11).
In the new covenant, we meet Jesus, the one most intimately familiar with our tears. We see these tears at the tomb of Lazarus when Jesus weeps with a hurting sister (John [11:35]). We see these tears at Gethsemane when he prayed to the Father “with loud cries and tears” (Hebrews 5:7). We see these tears at the cross as he again cries out to the Father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark [15:34]).
Gethsemane and Calvary remind us that he has tasted bitter tears we will never taste. And because of those tears, we never experience abandonment from our God in our tears here on earth. He is theman of sorrows, acquainted with all our grief, able to sympathize with our weakness (Isaiah 53:3; Hebrews [4:15]). And at the end of this sin-ridden age, we will see him take our tears in his hands, wiping them from our eyes in the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:4).