There’s a place my heart and mind frequently go when I meditate on the love of God.
It’s a place where, on hard days, deep sadness, yearning and joy collide; on easier days, they simply intertwine.
Long before Chloe fell ill, long before my world fell apart, I fell in love with a verse from Zephaniah.
Someone had put the words to music, and as I sang the little chorus alone or in groups I could almost sense the warmth of God’s arms around me, the tenderness of his eyes on mine, and the joy in his voice as he sang his song of affectionate love to me. It brought joy to my heart.
Fast forward to the days of Chloe’s suffering.
I would sing to her, albeit off-tune, the sweet and true lyrics of “Jesus Loves Me,” even while crying bitter, heartbroken tears, yearning for her to be healed, longing for her to know how very precious she was.
Fast forward further to the inevitable and terrible day of her passing. I was still singing, and still questioning.
Then came the afternoon when we had to lay her in that grave. I couldn’t bear to watch as they covered her casket with soil, but Juan, bless his heart, stayed with her little body till the end.
Even as we said good-bye, I knew that her soul was long gone and that in some miraculous way she was resting in the warmth of God’s embrace, cradled in his arms, free of suffering and pain.
I knew beyond doubt that she was—and will forever be—loved. Tenderly loved and rejoiced over by her Creator and Savior. Loved and treasured by us.
So when the time came for us to choose a gravestone and select an epitaph, it only made sense to include lines from that comforting verse:
“The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Amazingly, a year after Chloe’s passing, a dear friend gifted me with a powerful, perfect reminder that Chloe was “Safe in the Arms of Jesus.” In this depiction of deep love, Jesus sits in a rocking chair and tenderly embraces a tiny babe.
Most poignantly, it’s nail-pierced hands that hold the babe.
Those same hands hold me. Those same hands hold you.
We are cherished.
We are loved.