Faithful Aaron

Exodus 17:8-13

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.  

So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

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Aaron and Hur didn’t have the most glamorous job here. Holding up Moses’ arms? Aaron does some pretty cool stuff in scripture, but propping up his little brother's arms when they got tired was probably not on his list of proudest moments. There’s not a whole lot of glory in something like that.

 

That would be a worldly perception missing the point. We’re sometimes tempted to gauge how much glory we can gain in a certain endeavor when God just wants us to step out of the limelight and support and encourage someone else that He is choosing to work through.

 

It’s not our glory that is the end goal here- it’s Gods! We can’t all be Moses all the time. We are compared to a body on more than one occasion in scripture referencing our varied spiritual gifts. Not only does this metaphor explain our obvious, but still important, differences, but it also teaches us how we need one another in our differences, and should work together rather than independently.

 

I’ve struggled myself wishing I had some great talent that I could use to glorify God. I’ve compared myself to others wishing I had their ability to sing, speak, write, create, present, do... whatever it is. I want to be a story people tell, wowing and motivating them to live more like I do. I’ve seen God working through others and grown discouraged that I wasn’t doing something so significant. I’ve looked at the Moseses in my life and envied their gravity rather than thinking to hold up their arms to support them.

 

There are a lot of amazing Christians using their unique talents and gifts to glorify God, and if we can relish the role of faithful Aaron once in a while rather than resent it, we can get a lot more accomplished as the body that we are.

 

Let me give you a few examples of some Moseses I’ve met. Click images to learn more. 

Here are a couple of extremely talented musicians doing a great job of using their gifts to glorify God:

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There are a great deal of artists and photographers who are excelling at capturing the beauty of God’s creation and using that talent to glorify Him:

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Then there are more unique talents really innovating their way to God’s glory:

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*The Kings of Israel game is a bible based cooperative game currently being funded on Kickstarter. If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, you can essentially pre-pay for the game to help fund its production. It’s a great (and really fun!) way to learn (or teach!) old testament history! Click HERE to participate in the Kickstarter.

"Kings of Israel is a board game taking place in Israel (the Northern Kingdom) during the reign of its kings up until Israel's destruction by Assyria. Players are on a team and each person represents a line of prophets that are trying to remove evil and idols from Israel, while building altars to help guide Israel in the upcoming difficult years. If the players are able to build enough altars before the game ends, they win. If the group runs out of sin cubes or idols, or if the timeline token reaches Assyria destroying Israel, the prophets lose."

Click here to see more of an overview of the game! How creative!

There’s no shame in being faithful Aaron! In fact, there is glory- God’s glory! Don’t be discouraged if you feel like you’re not doing big enough things for God. He loves you and put you where you are for a reason. Sometimes being a faithful Aaron is the best way to glorify Him!

Who do you know that is excelling at using their gifts to God’s glory?

Be a faithful Aaron and support and encourage the Moseses in your life!

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Look for the Light

"Where did you see His light today?" This is a question our Pastor gently asks when one is going through very tough times.

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When I read the book of Job I think, "What faith! I want to be like Job regardless of what happens in my life. Even if ...

  • all the "stuff" that makes up my home is damaged
  • emergency savings and finances down the drain
  • entire home is gone
  • long invested career is in shambles
  • children are killed
  • friends and spouse make me doubt my faith and God
  • my body is pressed and worn from all sides deteriorating
  • my logic reasons that my God has abandoned me

Satan wants temptation and suffering to happen to us for one reason - to weaken our faith to the point that it separates us from our God. Forever. Satan knows our dearest treasures and starts there to trip us up.

God allows temptation and suffering to happen to us for one reason - to strengthen our faith to the point that it unifies us to Himself in His suffering AND His glory.

Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name! John 12:27-28

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God allows temptations but doesn't leave us alone to battle them. We can bear the temptation because He is with us. Look for the Light.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. I Corinthians 10:13

God allows suffering. Sometimes even to the point where we CANNOT handle it! Why? This is where He steps in and overcomes the suffering for us. We have no words except - "That could have happened only by the hand of the LORD!" Look for the Light.

Do I think Job was tempted to curse God like his wife "advised" him? Do you think he doubted his faith was good enough when his closest "friends" questioned it? Do you think Job was tempted to put the blame for his children's death on his own head as if it were a punishment from God? YES! But look at the passage above again. Do you see it? GOD IS FAITHFUL.

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When we are in the dark zone of spiritual, emotional, or physical war in our lives, remember Job's story. And most importantly - God is faithful.

When we feel alone - don't trust those feelings! trust God's promises! - we aren't alone. God is right there with us. Hebrews 13:5

God may choose to show us His light in a variety of ways. Perhaps it is through the comfort of a friend, a song that brings peace to your anxious thoughts, a gesture of kindness such as a dinner brought to you, a generous check appears in your mailbox, a sunset that leaves you in awe of God's creation, the stunned doctors whose diagnosis was reversed... and other ways that I can not limit Him to a list. However, we know we can find His light in His Word always. Many of the psalms relate to the soul crying out to the Lord and his faithfulness. Psalm 77:1-20

And when God wills that our time is done in this foreign world. Take heart! Jesus has overcome temptation completely. He has overcome suffering even to the point of death - completely forsaken by His Father. Jesus has overcome this world! John 16:33

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

Be encouraged, friends. Even in the face of darkness there is light. Jesus is the light. John 8:12

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:32-39

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Carried Through Miscarriage: Grief to Glory // Part Two

GGHeader If you happen to be pregnant or are sensitive to solemn topics about birth and death please do not continue reading. We do not want to place any anxious thoughts or images in your mind as we share openly about the grief of miscarriage.

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Last week, I began the baby loss series Grief to Glory and wrote briefly about our miscarriage. Through miscarriage I learned that a Christian can experience grief and the glory of God at the same time.

Someone once said to me, "Christians have feelings about feelings." Some of us feel bad about feeling bad! We second guess our grief as weakness of faith. When we read in John 14, "Do not let your hearts be troubled" we think that if we are troubled there is something wrong with us. Rather, when I read those passages I picture Jesus comforting us, as a mother comforts her child, (Isaiah 66:13) by rocking us in his arms and hushing us with his promised love.

In Romans 5 we are told to GLORY in our sufferings!

...we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

God does not shame our grief! Instead, he gifts us hope and turns our grief to glory. Beautiful.

Today, I will share two other couples' stories of loss, hope, and faith.

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God was there every step of the way as we grieved the loss of our babies. After miscarrying our first baby (our second child), I remember reading the Bible story of Jesus healing the blind man in John 9. The disciples had asked who had sinned the blind man or his parents. Jesus replied;

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Something about this verse brought me so much comfort. I may never know why God allowed us to loose Baby G, but if through this trial, God was somehow glorified, then that’s what I want to focus on. Not questioning God, but trusting his bigger purposes. Being almost 11 weeks along with our first miscarriage we were able to bury our little one together. It was an sad but special thing to grieve and feel validated that the reason it hurt so bad was because we had actually lost something. It wasn’t a pregnancy, it was our second child.  We have a collage of family pictures on our wall and still keep Baby G's ultrasound up there in one of the frames. Unfortunately, I miscarried so early (5 weeks) the second time so we were not able to do any of the same things that we did for our first miscarriage. But God was good, and grief was also quickly over shadowed by our joy as I unexpectedly got pregnant quickly after our second miscarriage.
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My husband Justin was a huge source of support and love as we turned to God together. We had seen the baby on ultrasound only a day before I lost it so we both were able to see the heartbeat and “connect” with this little one. At first I couldn’t understand why God would have let us see our baby only to lose her (always felt it was a girl) two days later. But as we grieved, I saw God’s graciousness. Baby G and her loss was just as great to Justin since he was able to see the little screen, the beating heart, and the little body moving around.

It was harder, however, for me as the months went on. As a woman there are many difficult physical aspects to a miscarriage: the post partum recovery, getting your cycle back (when your mind you should be X amount of weeks pregnant), being intimate again, being able to “try” again; so many different seasons of grief and letting go of your dreams and plans and trusting God that his will will be better.

In many ways, despite the pain, loss and grief, our two miscarriages brought strength and more intimacy to our marriage. We had gone through yet another trial together and God had once again carried us through. We had seen God meet us in our brokenness and hardships so many times before that it only made sense to trust God through these miscarriages since we’d already learned to rely on Him through over and over in our marriage.

Overall, the biggest blessing that came out of our losses was realizing that our children are not our own. They have never been mine, but have always been the Lord's. He is in control over their life, their purpose, even their very breath. I have been given the wonderful responsibility to raise them, but ultimately I have to surrender them to God knowing that he will love them more than I ever could.

As soon as a woman finds out she is expecting, thoughts of her life with that little one begin from that very first day. Thoughts about which season they will be born in, what life will be like with that little one, how old they will be at Christmas, etc. When you lose the baby, the reality is that you have lost a lifetime of memories and experiences with this child is very difficult. If there is anything I would encourage people to NOT say to someone who is grieving a miscarriage, it would be this. “Thankfully you can try again in another few months.” While this is very true, a new pregnancy does not replace the child you just loss. A woman who’s miscarried has not just lost a pregnancy but a real child. And no matter how happy they will be to find they are expecting again, it will be with a different baby.

It’s interesting how easy it is to not think about these things, but talking about them even for this piece brings back the sadness of that season in our lives. I so look forward to heaven when we’ll get to meet our two little ones for the first time. What an amazing blessing that will be!
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Kristie & Brian's Baby

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accept it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

In the doctor’s office, after seeing that monitor, I turned numb while everyone went through the medical motions, then I cried and couldn’t speak for a few moments. I remember muttering through tears to the nurses something that God has our family’s plans in His hands, I’m trusting Him even though this is hard right now, thanked them and affirmed that today confirmed, however slight, doubts I had considered, even just briefly – only after the news that I would miscarry, did things come into a stark reality. I had all the symptoms of being pregnant, having been granted the opportunity to have known what that was like with our first born, but yet felt faintly off. I think because I was having subtle flickers of confusion with the pregnancy, the initial news was very relieving to me. I had not told Brian prior as I chalked up my feelings to being pregnant and the crazy symptoms that may or may not appear, and how they can differ with each pregnancy. However, after that day at the doctor’s, I realized what I had been feeling was a disconnect, an emptiness, and only after was I given those tangible words of description. Like C.S. Lewis writes, “The death of a beloved is an amputation.” Even if you never met your child, it’s an immense hole. I don’t remember questioning the why, but moreover, how do we respond to this? What does our enduring look like? How do we tell people?

I know for Brian it’s not manly to talk about his “feelings.” Not that he doesn’t talk about his emotions, or didn’t, but sometimes us woman want to change our husband into a girlfriend. One thing God had worked on me early in our dating and marriage was that I needed to give Brian space and wait for him (and go to God first), and although that was hard sometimes, really hard (and sometimes still is), especially when I just want to talk, those acts are many times one of the best ways I can be Brian’s helper.

I was fortunate to have my good friend Katy (above), who very recently had experienced a miscarriage too, who would also experience another one, alongside. Her counsel and encouragement was exceedingly cherished.

 

10 week old embryo baby. Taken by an OB/GYN med student in India named Dr. Suparna Sinha

 

The greatest source of comfort for us was God. God himself. Believing God, not believing our belief about Him. He revealed himself even more so as The Comforter, The Provider, The Great Physician, and He was ever so faithful, not just in what He gave to us while we grieved and healed, but in who He is revealed in His words, revealed through each other and Evee, our dear family and friends, the people behind the devotions, podcasts, sermons, songs or movies or books or artwork or plays that the Holy Spirit would make our eyes and ears sensitive towards. It’s always God orchestrating that whole course – the delivery, the timing, the method. The joy was set before us, yes, and fixing our eyes on Jesus while we mourned our loss was our necessity. “… the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. – Job 1:21. Our miscarriage occurred in the winter, how fitting and poetic, I always thought. Coming through and out of Advent.

“What if suffering isn’t a problem to solve, but a mystery to live?” – Ann Voskamp

I remember needing to pray a lot for patience, for myself to wait on God, towards and for Brian (especially as we waited for the miscarriage to actually, physically happen – which took several weeks). I’m not saying that was easy, bearing with each other as you each move through grief is hard, but it’s also difficult for me to label it negative, because we were unified even more so, in the middle of it all. And how thankful I was that God prepared us, prepped our hearts for this loss, as perhaps we ourselves, and our marriage, would have looked different had it happened at an earlier time. But who’s to say? “Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing.” - Joel 2:14. God is always pruning when you allow Him to play Gardener.

I also remember a shared fear in having sex after we were given the “green light,” that fear and worry for what it would mean in the capability in having more children, the “damage” to my body, physical pain, medical bills, but it was also so good because it allowed us to come together again before Christ, run to the well that never runs dry, continually surrender, and accept that whatever comes or is given or hurtled our way, that our answer is yes in Him.

Satan used fear and pride in many capacities – the fear OF fear I remember well. I was scared I would allow myself to get jealous or bitter. Wouldn’t that have been natural? It's almost as if I was still waiting to hurt or become miserable from seeing friends' babies or hearing of new pregnancies or attending and shopping for baby showers or what-not; it never channeled further despair. Knowing full well that God stepped into that fear (onto, rather, like He crushed it), He gave me His power enabling joy in blessings, I love that in Ecclesiastes, sharing in celebration with others. That comes from Him, not any strength of my own.

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.” – Psalm 30:11-12.

That time was such a journey in clinging to the God (rather, Him clinging to us), who deserves and desires our praise, and our love - equaled obedience - regardless. It was a learning and an awareness of taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ vs. getting stuck in worry and not able to release to Him. Recognizing those worry triggers, so I can go to God at the urge. And I still struggle in worry of course, I know we all do, but God still remains, and is our ever portion. “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” (Psalm 143:8). I think the Gospel gains credibility when we suffer because Christians are not spared crises or struggles – Christ suffers with us. We have a mandate to suffer.

I was reminded recently in Revelation, how God delegates many things to the angels, except the wiping of the tears from our eyes. God reserves that for Himself. Such a peek at His heart, isn’t it? He wants us to release that grief to Him, not pretend we are happy or silence our anguish or fear, or replace the Comforter with something or someone else, but so He can be the one to comfort, cast our burdens on Him. And feeling that comfort and peace may necessitate a waiting. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” – Matthew 5:4.

Our oldest child, Evee, needed our care and attention a lot as she was sick quite a bit that long winter. I do just remember being so lavished with gratitude for her, washed over, for her presence, just cherishing, praying for the strength to live in the moment and eyes to see with newfound wonder, protection from worry. Our love for her was enhanced by this hardship. And as well as with Liam’s pregnancy. I know there were times of worry, but I remember far more the peace while our circumstances in other areas of life were unstable and chaotic. However long we had with Liam would be another gift. The family togetherness, dates and memories are what I remember most, and I mean that sincerely.

We talk openly about the baby with our children. Once we found out we were pregnant, we had told Evee (about 1 ½ years old at the time), about her baby brother or sister growing inside. And when playing or what-not, to be gentle to momma’s tummy. Evee had lost something too, death is inevitable. It felt natural to talk of the baby that was once given to us, the baby that never came out of my tummy, the baby that was taken back. We explained that her baby brother or sister was in heaven in the arms of Jesus, especially as she was aware of the baby, in whatever capacity, from the get-go. I prayed that Evee came to know God and to need Jesus and what He came to do deeper from her siblings’ loss, even in her little mind. A life is worth celebrating, even if only for a short while, and it was that baby’s gain going straight back to their Maker. Giving the baby a name - “Heavenly Baby C” – helped to identify with Evee, and us too.

In all the simplicity and complexity of the Gospel, maybe you find it so encouraging, so assuring, as I do, to talk about it with little folk, even if you stumble to find the words. But how thankful I am that I don’t have Him figured out! Ha! I do recall talking about Heavenly Baby Cooper more so when I was pregnant with Liam (born January 2, 2012), especially when Evee invited the conversation. I remember being so grateful, relieved even, for her curious mind as it was a way to continually treasure that gift, reminisce myself. I know I’m taking it out of context, but like Job prayed, “Teach me what I cannot see.” I can speculate all I want, but I may never fully know this side of heaven what God’s extended purposes involved, but I trust they were accomplished in the time we had with Heavenly Baby C, that He is using that gift for his overarching objectives. God is sovereign through and over our struggles, and He is faithful and trustworthy, whatever our circumstances. “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” –Job 2:10. Those times of deep, confusing pain are those pristine opportunities to display Christ, and it is my hope (and consequently fear, that I’ll fail) to reveal Christ in all of our struggles, especially to our own families. To bear our painful circumstances showcasing God’s goodness, even being that that testimony is rendered through many tears, “ … but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” – John 9:3b.

 

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I was so thankful God nudged us, in an incredibly gentle way, to making our circumstances known. How would people know what we’re going through if we don’t acknowledge it? He provided the way to get it out, expose our suffering vs. insulating ourselves. Spontaneously, at least how I remember it, when we found out we were pregnant, we had written a private Facebook note to our family and close friends, sharing our anticipation, asking for prayers, and that we had a doctor appointment the next day. I think we would be lying to say that we weren't, for a few moments at least, "blushing" at sending out that original note, as we of course knew the risks. Our doctor was so understanding, she confessed she herself experienced a miscarriage, and reassured us that this too would work out for our good and support, as it’s already a gateway in sharing. If we had not made our pregnancy originally known, it would have been complicated and difficult for me to express to some, some that I would have genuinely wanted to share, about the miscarriage. I think the devil can confuse personal and private, making them equivalent, and sometimes brands shame over a miscarriage, infertility, birth defects, whatever the case. And outside of children or even people altogether – a job loss, a goal or dream…

Sometimes we get so concerned with saying the “right” or “wrong” thing that we miss the opportunity to console completely. Ignoring, even if it makes you terribly uncomfortable, or avoiding someone in need, is unloving. Remaining stuck, frozen in our discomfort or the awkwardness or our insecurities may lead to apathy, and down a bad road. Consider others’ interests above your own. In what to do, risk the awkwardness, and first go to God for guidance and to be moved in compassion in how and when to comfort. And sometimes that means waiting. Discernment is a necessity. Just because something is true, doesn’t always mean something should be stated, and said by you, at least right then and there. If you don’t know what to say or how to help, it’s okay to be honest, and simply ask. And as the ones who received the loss, pursue humility, admitting the need for help, and ask that of others, even particular requests (i.e. “I need help with the other kids, etc.).

I don’t want to appear to be hard on those experiencing loss, but I do want to be vigilant. Satan will pounce on you big-time during a low point such as a miscarriage, and if we allow ourselves to become offended, we miss so much, because at times, the other party is processing, feeling inadequate, and grieving too, or saying what may comfort they, themselves. We cannot control others. Because the truth is everyone is an object of God’s mercy, no matter what they have done (or not done), and our world surely isn’t about mercy.

Even if someone says something in what you feel may be hurtful, flippant, trite, is just silent, whatever, it’s way too easy, comfortable even, to settle into resentment and bitterness. Teaming with God, ask God to search your own heart, and give those trying to comfort you mercy, extend grace, absorb their burdens. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. I think all of us have given a badly chosen, or maybe what we just feel is a bad response at least at some point in our lives, I know I have, like when the objective was just to fill, selfishly, uncomfortable space. Frankly, there isn’t an easy answer to what not to/to say, although I think many of us wish there were, like a formula. I feel it’s just a call for discernment, for wisdom, and is complex and quite gritty.

I remember a hard day, after we had initially found out that I was carrying a dead baby in my womb, and I was overwrought, just bombarded with grief, worry, fear, the lot I’m sure. Evee was napping and the house was quiet, and I just remember falling on the couch and sobbing. My Bible was in reach, and it was like I was coming up for air after flailing in water. I opened and flipped aimlessly, not knowing where to start, and asked God something to the affect of making me still to hear, and my eyes caught

2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

I’m not saying I escaped in that moment, but my hope was renewed, and my trust in God affirmed. I love those words.

Does the pain and sorrow come back, and unexpectedly? oh yes. It’s a longing to meet that child, for Evee and Liam to meet their brother or sister, in the company of the Lord God Almighty with other loved ones who have passed, the absolute best place for them to be. This deep yearning for completeness. All of life is a wait, isn’t it? It’s going to be living in a complicated tension all the while we are here on this earth, and just abiding.

“Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us noone can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.” – Psalm 40:5

 

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Thank you for reading our Grief to Glory series on the topic of baby loss.

If you have loss a baby, the story of baby Simeon’s life is shared in Grief to Glory: Part Three // Lifted through Baby Loss. Also, baby Grace's life is shared in Grief to Glory: Part Four // Breathtaking Grace. Please know that we understand the solemness of the content we are sharing. It is our intention to have an open and honest telling of a Christian couple’s response to grief.