Monday, June 1, 2009

This is what it means - to be "Held"

Lyrics to the song Held written by Christa Wells performed by Natalie Grant

Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing
To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling
Who told us we'd be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We're asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it's unfair
This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held

This hand is bitterness
We want to taste it and
Let the hatred numb our sorrows
The wise hand opens slowly
To lilies of the valley and tomorrow

After Jess died, we were given a Natalie Grant CD with the song “Held” on it. Along with “Homesick” by Mercy Me, “Grace” by Michael W Smith, “Untitled Hymn” by Chris Rice and “You Raise Me Up” and “To Where You Are” by Josh Groban, “Held” became one of the songs that gave us the most comfort in those dark days. I tend to be a bit obsessive, so to say that I listened to the song hundreds of times is not an exaggeration. In time I began to focus my obsession on a single phrase from the song:

To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling

What did it mean? Was it appalling that God would take a child from their mother while she prays, or that we would think that God chose to do so? I obsessed over the question, I had to know what it meant. I researched the song and found that it was written by Christa Wells a singer/songwriter from North Carolina. It turns out that she has a website,, and on it there was an email address. So I emailed her and got the following response:

Funny that you ask about that particular line, since it was that line (among others) that kept the song from being cut by other artists sooner. Natalie was the first one not to ask us to rewrite! It is a tough lyric, though, and I do understand that.

I write without a lot of self-censorship--in other words, it's important to me when I write to say what is honest, rather than what is pleasant. For better or worse. When I wrote that verse, considering my dear friend who was/is one of the strongest women of faith I've ever encountered and who had suffered so much loss, I could only think that this is true for us as we observe: it seems to us appalling that a sovereign, loving God could "do that" to "someone like that." I do believe fervently in God's sovereignty, but I also believe there are things that he --as with Job--allows rather than initiates. It is indeed appalling (to our human minds) to think He would choose or allow a child to be taken from his mother, while she's on her knees begging him not to.

Of course, that's not the end of the story, as you are more aware than I. The great "but this is what it means" MUST follow!

Finally, the answer I had been looking for. So why did I not feel satisfied?

Because I now realized that the question I had was not really with the song or with the lyrics. It is about me and how I am dealing with Jess’ death. We prayed. We prayed often and hard. And there was no miracle for us. But some people do get their miracles. Did they pray harder or better than we did? I want someone to blame, so the emotional part of me blames God. How could he let this happen? But then there is another part of me. A seemingly smaller part that says you can’t really believe that God wanted Jess to die. So the real question is how do I resolve that inner conflict between the two?

I think as Christians we want to believe that God has a plan and that everything that happens is part of God’s plan. But as Pastor Corey told us at Jess’ funeral, Jess dying was not God’s plan. There is evil, and pain, and suffering in this world.

But why? Why does there have to be pain and suffering and death in a world created by a loving God?

I’m not sure I knew the answer until last Sunday in church as I listened to Pastor Corey reminding us that we do not belong in this world.

And then something clicked. I think I understand.

We do not belong to this world.

This life, this world is just the beginning of our Journey.

And the best is yet to come.

See you soon Jess. (but not soon enough)

We love you.


  1. Wow! If there is a way to make sense of this - this definitely helps. It makes me cry but . . . I am on the outside looking in and I can't begin to imagine what you continue to go through on a daily basis. You two are so strong and your faith inspires me - I want you to know that. Thank you for continuing to share your journey with all of us because even though Jess was little, she taught me (continues to teach me) a lesson and that is to be a better mom. Linnea

  2. i never looked at life that way,,,, is so true!! God bless you!