We lost our oldest child, our daughter Anna, suddenly in April 2008 at the age of 27; our other three daughters and three sons lost their beloved sister. Two months later, a longtime, long-distance friend of my husband was visiting us. As we sat together on our screened porch after dinner, he confided that he had been so shocked when he first received the news of Anna’s death in an accident halfway around the world that he almost didn’t respond at all. What immobilized him initially was the unimaginable thought of such harm coming to his own oldest daughter.

But he had gathered himself up and sent an eloquent letter to us, accompanied by one of the most beautifully specific gifts we have ever received – a gift rich with profound meaning. We were so moved at the time; even now, this powerful symbol and the thin stuff of words never fails to bring comfort and provide a window into that greater life. “What if,” I mused with him that evening, “you had kept silent? What part of us might not have mended, or been carried even for that day?” I know that my husband and I have survived the pressing weight of this profound grief in large part because of the grace of God conveyed through those who have gracefully moved toward us and chosen to sit alongside us.

How much grace do we withhold when we hold back? How much more might this suffering soul, this wounded Body, this broken world be healed if we who belong to Christ would simply move toward instead of holding back, or even retreating, in the face of anguish? How often do we respond not in any sort of “fullness of time,” but only at our convenience, restrained by our measured degree of comfort, if at all? Sometimes I wish He didn’t trust us so much. Sometimes I wish He didn’t entrust us with so much.