On the day before my birthday (9-23) friends Molly and Abraham Piper discovered their baby girl – due to be born on 9-25 – was no longer alive. She was perfectly formed, but once delivered it was found that the umbilical cord was wrapped too tightly around her neck. This was likely the cause of it.
There are all kinds of grief and I have wisely heard it said that you cannot compare one to another. Still losing a healthy baby at full term, in a place where medical care is no problem – is oh so intensely sad.
Molly and Abraham had chosen her name as soon as they knew it was a girl: Felicity. The irony of this struck me immediately; felicity means intense happiness. I have no doubt that Felicity herself is intensely happy right now in the presence of her Savior Jesus Christ. I know her parents rejoice in that truth, but at the very same time they and others have waited with anticipation for her joyful arrival. Many of us are sad along with her parents who are grieving all kinds of losses and enduring new sorrows every day. Surely this loss will occupy their thoughts and emotions for weeks and months to come.
Therein lies the paradox. It’s hard to explain (that’s why they call it a paradox) but somehow there is both an intense pain and intense joy in this loss. For we are so aware as we walk through life with Christ that he is in control of all things and all things are for our benefit and for his glory. The apostle Paul called our afflictions ‘light and momentary’. But we rejoice in what those afflictions achieve; an eternal weight of glory.
The week before all this sadness came I was thinking about how what we suffer (which is so minor compared to what Christ suffered on our behalf) to reach for our God-given goals. I feel this way as I wait for my departure from here to Kenya. But this light ‘suffering’ is my joy. And the burden of living cross-culturally will also be my joy because I delight to glorify God’s great name.
In human terms it’s hard to put the two ideas together. Maybe the meaning of Felicity; that she came and went so quickly and that she is so very sadly missed in a number of ways, is to help us understand intense happiness and intense sadness can be mixed together all at once for the glory of God.
Other thoughts about Felicity can be found at the following: