This year — and every year — I am thankful for God, who entered into humanity in the person of Jesus. But this year, the personal way in which we get to relate to the Creator God means even more to me because of a recent tragedy my wife and I experienced.
This year, we experienced the tragedy of miscarriage.
Every day, couples learn the horrible news that their unborn child is no longer alive, triggering simultaneous feelings of profound sadness and anger. Why does this happen? Why to us? Why now?
But, in the least trite way possible, I have never felt closer to God than in that moment and in the weeks of grieving that followed.
The tension that I experienced in those weeks — the pain of losing an unborn child, for whom my wife and I and our community reverently prayed, while at the same time feeling the palpable comfort of a living God — is difficult to put into words. But I understand why I felt such dissonance.
God entered into humanity in the person of Jesus, and thus he experienced human suffering when his people rejected him and sent him to die the excruciating death of crucifixion. For God, the creator of all, suffering is not a distant concept. He himself experienced it.
Suffering is hard. But for Christians, our suffering is not meaningless. It is precisely because we are in Christ that we can see hope through our suffering, that is, by relating to Christ through suffering, we become more like Christ.
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing," says James 1:2–4.
"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies," explains 2 Corinthians 4:8–10.
To be human means we will suffer. But a crucial part of the good news about Jesus, about what God has accomplished through Christ, is that every person who calls on the name of Jesus gets to experience relationship with the living God who has, in fact, gone before them in suffering.
Today, I am more thankful than ever for Christ.