For Hannah Grace

This week twelve years ago, we should have been welcoming our firstborn child, but she wasn’t here. I’ve written about the day we found out about Hannah’s death in this post. This week, in honour of the daughter we haven’t met (yet), I’m sharing a poem I wrote shortly afterwards to process my thoughts about God and the death of a child.

For Hannah Grace

I never thought I’d hear the words that I have heard today
I never thought that God, in love, would dare take you away
And now my world is upside-down, I scarce can take it in…
Is this some kind of training, or a punishment for sin?

If punishment, why take it out on someone who’s so innocent?
If training, I am straining for the lesson that was meant
Oh God above, how could Your love ever cause such pain?
And how can I, with blinded eye, see this great loss as gain?

I never thought I’d read the words like I’ve read them today
I never counted up the cost that God has made You pay
How all the sin of all the world, I scarce can take it in…
Could rest upon the shoulders of the one Man without sin!

This punishment, why take it out on Someone who’s so innocent?
Yet all along He knew it was the reason He was sent
Oh God above, how could Your love ever cause such pain?
Eyes open wide, He didn’t hide, but saw His loss as gain

I may never see the impact of the things You do today
But I trust the hand that hurts me is the hand that leads the way
To where all losses turn to gain and ugliness turns fair
Where sinners turn to saints clothed in glory beyond compare

Oh God above, how could Your love ever cause such pain?
Upon Your throne, You must have known You’d turn losses into gain

The Song Of Streams

Now everybody’s looking up, the sky is in their dreams,

All climbing ladders, stairs and walls – a little more, it seems,

And we will satisfy our thirst among the mountain streams

But mountain streams flow opposite to all we think we know

Their joy is not to climb the heights – they hurry to be low

Through rocks and mud and tangled roots, and laughing as they go

Their Maker, pleased to do the same, came down from dizzy height

To deepest valley far below to save us in our plight

To lift us up, the King went down, and it was His delight!

Oh, let me learn the song of streams, that joyful, laughing sound,

The pathway of my Maker on a ladder upside-down,

And so to lift up others – wherever they are found

The Coals

If you want to take a picture of a big impressive fire

If you want to post it up online and likes are your desire

Be sure to take your photo when the fire’s just been lit

When flames are leaping up so high it’s sure to be a hit

But then, if warming up your hands or cooking are your goals

You’ll have to wait and let the fire burn down to its coals

For epic Insta-pictures and 1,000 Facebook likes

Won’t be enough to warm you up on dark and stormy nights

Sometimes the unimpressive things are better than the show

Sometimes the things you wait for are the best things you can know

Of Death & Life

After attending the funeral of an extended family member this week, I was once again reminded of the short span of my own life. The funeral was more than a recognition of the reality of death, though, and more than a celebration of a life well lived: it was also a celebration of a sure hope beyond the grave. As the apostle Paul said: “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I found a little graveyard

The grass grown up so high

On beds of now-forgotten folk

Whose names are scrubbed by Time

A few more days

A few more breaths

And I will join them here

And grass will grow

And time erase –

My name will disappear

But if your grandkids find me there

There’s no need for dismay

My Saviour broke the power of death

And I’ll be Home to stay