Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thirteen

Thirteen years.

Today marks thirteen years since our son Jeffrey was born still.  On August 14, 2001, our first child - a son - came into this world, already in the arms of our Father.

Married just over a year and three months, this event was (at the time) the single greatest tragedy to befall us, individually and as a couple.  Our lives changed on that day.

I was six months into my first pregnancy when I became quite ill.  I could look back with a wide range of feelings regarding that time of illness.  I had a doctor who was disinterested in me.  I knew something was wrong.  I knew it, but no one was taking my complaints seriously.  "Keep your feet up." was their response on multiple occasions.  It wasn't until I was in quite serious condition that they finally took me seriously.

I could look at that time frame and simply be angry at the medical establishment I was with.  But I don't know that the outcome would have been any different.  Maybe.  I have no way to know.

Thirteen years ago, we were not walking with the Lord.  We just weren't.  We occupied seats at church - sometimes.

While suffering through an illness that almost took me from this world, we lost our precious child.  


The emotions that followed in the time of grief that passed weren't good.  I was bitter, angry, enraged, hateful, and was coming undone.  I blamed God.  Oh, how I blamed Him.  I blamed Him for everything that had gone wrong in my life that ultimately led to this great loss.  The "Why me???" game was in full swing and it went into extra innings; far more than necessary.

Thirteen years have passed and I miss Jeffrey terribly.  I treasure the hours I held him - all 1 pound three quarters of an ounce of him - in my arms before it was time to let go.  I look back on the years of misery that I unfairly put myself (and others) through.

I can't change who I was then.  I didn't know God.  I didn't understand anything about relationship with Christ or walking with the Lord.  I probably would have scoffed at the idea of this being part of a plan.  In fact, I probably did.

I know now that I still don't understand why events transpired the way they did.  I don't understand why anyone has to lose a child at any stage of pregnancy or at any age thereafter.  It's not right.  It's not the natural order of things.  But I do know that God does, indeed, have a plan.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
If I knew then that God was for me and not against me.  If I knew then that God was with me no matter what circumstances I found myself in.  If I knew then...

I think in the grand scheme of things, the loss of Jeffrey, as difficult as it was, was the very beginning of our road towards Christ.  A long road to be sure.  A dirty, pothole-filled, gravelly, rocky, scary road at times.  I know I couldn't see how there was any "good" in what happened.

I read that marriages that have endured a stillbirth are 40% more likely to wind up in divorce.  We were married in 2000.  Between 2001 and 2013, we endured a stillbirth, a miscarriage, and 24/7 caregiving for a medically fragile/special needs child who passed away at the age of almost seven years old.  Between 2001 and 2013, I have nearly died from sudden life-threatening health conditions five times.

Romans 8:28 says it this way:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
I may still be trying to discern the purpose in all of this, but I know that our journey - beginning with this great loss - has brought us closer to God than we have ever been in our lives.  I know now that God is for me.  I know that He has been with me through every single trial I've endured.  I know that He is my strength and my comfort.

I don't know why things happen in life, but I know that God "comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (2 Corinthians 1:4)

We've walked a difficult journey these thirteen years, but we've grown stronger.  Individually.  Together.  With Christ.

Yes, things happen that we cannot predict or control.  God knows our journey.  He knows our sorrows and our trials.  He knows us.  He is strength in our weakness and in our weakness we are made strong.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)



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