when your heart is broken & crushed and you're groping for answers in the dark: a prayer for Joy-girl and our broken hearts

Turns out you can read words that stop your whole world spinning.


“Joy-girl went to be with the Lord, yesterday…”


My heart stops. 

I sit here folded inside-out replaying all those conversations in my head and the videos of her precious little face, and I am an utter mess.  And I cannot help but wonder… but we prayed. we hoped, strong.


We stood like an army of prayer-warriors. We locked arms across continents in prayer for Joy-girl. We prayed and we believed. We really believed.


It feels like our hearts have just been grinded by a truck. It feels like I am crouched over what I thought I knew.


Everything pales. Everything stills and you can hear the sound of everything all at once, and the sound of nothing altogether. My head is spinning.


It’d just been a few days ago, I sat there in the back of a taxi watching that last video of Joy-girl’s church dedication. And surely, 6 months had passed, we’d finally started to really believe. That she was here to stay.


And I remember when Joy-girl’s mama had reached out for prayers and that message she’d sent out that broke me wide open.


“…how is a God of compassion glorified in the prolonged suffering of a 5 week old?”


Yea, those words broke me wide open. 

And I could feel the deep pain of a mama’s pierced heart. I could feel the pain of a stranger, a friend, a sister, another Body of Christ. Pierced. And her words pierced right through me and I fell on my knees in prayer. For her. With her. For Joy-girl.


I couldn’t help but feel a bit lost because honestly I don’t know. How? Where is the glory in this suffering?” Sometimes, you grope for answers to quiet your shattered heart but you really don’t want to find it.


Because who wants to be told: there’s glory in pain. Who wants to hear: there’s purpose in this. Who wants to look you in the eye and quote you a scripture to still your throbbing heart, when it doesn’t take the pain away? When it doesn’t stop her mama from binding her wounds day after day. It doesn’t stop the sting in her father’s eyes when he wonders if she’ll be here tomorrow. Who wants to be told there’s Good News, when your heart is shattered with sorrow?


When you’re broken with grief. You just want to stay there in the dark and feel what you feel. How do you get to grow and nurture her inside you for 9 months and get to hold her for just 6? Why such brevity?


And my friend who had helped link our arms and our stories across two continents had called me and again we had choked over words.


And surely you can think: what’s the point of pain and grief? Of life and death even? Perhaps if love had been briefer, grief wouldn’t be this deep. If you didn’t love so deep and believe so strong, perhaps you wouldn’t be this broken. But this is the whole point: loving is the joy of living. That we loved and believed yet lost that for which we believed – is proof that we let ourselves break open.

There are always questions after loss. Grief always brings a heaviness that invites us to lean in deeper into the cross; to remind us that the cross is enough to carry us and the weight of the pain that we carry. Can we just believe that He will carry us through?


On that video, the Pastor had said these words: “Joy has been for our church a special example of the work of redemption. Joy has showed us how God binds our wounds and affliction day by day...”


And can I just write you on my heart, Joy-girl…


"…dear one, you are so precious.


you may never know the hearts and arms that joined because of and for you, but I pray that you somehow know this: you changed more lives in your days than many of us get to do in years. You came and gave us a glimpse into glory. Your brief life dared us to love through pain, dared us to believe through doubt, and dared us to pray without ceasing.


Joy-girl, I didn’t know you. Didn’t get to hold you. Neither do I know your mama and daddy. But mama’s friend linked my heart to yours – and you, Joy-girl, your life, your story broke my world right open. And I know you: you are Joy. We couldn’t tell your story without telling of His Glory. How He gave us you to remind us of grace and providence. How every moment of pain made us fight even harder for joy.


And we know that after this pain will come Joy. That your heart will always beat a rhythm for the broken ones you left behind. Bloom, dear Joy, in the arms of Your Father."