"How are you doing?"

After the death of our unborn son, Gavin, my wife Katie and I are getting that question a lot and we are extremely grateful for that. It shows people care about us. When people tell us they're praying for us, it encourages us, and we NEED that!

So, I think God is answering your prayers, and I think one of the ways He's specifically answering them for me is by showing me how I'm really doing. What I've learned over the past couple days is I'm not OK.

On the one hand, Katie and I are closer because of this. I'm blown away by the kindness and generosity that keeps flooding our lives. I'm not crying as much as I was a couple weeks ago (which I feel guilty about at times) though it feels like I'm holding back tears a lot. I'm not angry at all. I have a hole in my life that I don't want filled, that I don't think can be filled. That hole is my connection to Gavin until the day its filled when I meet him in glory (2 Samuel 12:23). Though I mourn everything that's not going to happen in our family, I look forward to the next life more than ever, and I'm more grateful for Jesus than ever for making that a reality by taking the punishment I deserve in His death and then rising from the dead.

On the one hand, those are incredibly positive outcomes I see happening in all of this. On the other hand, this trauma has made me very, deeply afraid. Holding my son's perfect, tiny, lifeless body in my hands, staring at his hands and his feet and his eyes for a few hours brought horror to my heart.

What revealed this fear to me was a sentence in a book I'm reading about grief (see it here). The author was describing the sinful effects of grief when he said, "Our sorrows then become sinful...when they divert us from, or distract us in our duties, so that our intercourse with heaven is stopped and interrupted by them."

That's me, today. Right now. I usually read the Bible and pray every day and journal. I've done almost none of that for the past 2 weeks, and when I realized that I didn't have to guess why. I knew why. I've distanced myself from God because I'm terrified...of Him.

I kind of don't want to be close to Him. I want to protect myself from Him, but I can't, which makes it worse. He's too big and too unpredictable to be trusted, so the trauma He brings makes me want to get away.

I know He can make something "beautiful" from these "ashes," but my response is, "Couldn't You have made the same beautiful thing without ashes?" The problem is, I know the answer to my question is, "Yes, but He chose not to," which, again, makes me want to get away.

I know all of that is sinful. I'm confessing it to you so I may be healed from it (James 5:16). I know these responses to our trauma are sinful. Reading that made me realize that I haven't started fighting it yet.

Ultimately, I can't get away from Him, and I don't really want to. I'm actually infinitely grateful that I can't get away, so grateful! I look to Jesus and see a God who is always compassionate to those in pain. He was acquainted with grief so He can not only sympathize with me, He can empathize with me. He is close to the brokenhearted. He saves those who are crushed in spirit. He is with me in the valley of the shadow of death. I see the evidences of His comfort and grace in our lives recently as confirmation of His compassion for us and presence with us personally. I do trust the One who took my sins AND MY SORROWS, and made them His very own. All of this helps me greatly.

Right now, this is not consistently leading my heart. When it does, maybe I'll blog about that too. Since January 21, there's been a dance going on between being terrified of God and trusting that same God, and terror has been leading so far.

So, how am I doing? I'm not OK. The thinking I described above is sinful. I know the only remedy is God's grace in my life. I need the Gospel. I need your prayers. Please pray for me along those lines. I cannot thank you enough for that if you do.

As an aside, I did not write this blog for attention. I'm an introvert. The last thing I want is attention, especially in times like this. I wrote this blog because I really want God to use our grief to help others and bring glory to His Name. I hope my confession of sin and my affirmation of my need for the Gospel will be a blessing to anyone who's struggling today, and I hope my transparency (not easy) will be helpful too.

Pastor Jon Benzinger