I walked in the door after working at church, and with just one look at my husband knew something was wrong. Alan’s a great non-verbal communicator. I didn’t ask him what it was, though. Once you ask, “What’s wrong?” you have to deal with the reality of the answer. And I instinctively knew I didn’t want to.
We chatted for a minute and I wondered if I had been wrong. But I still could sense his tenseness. And I was still avoided asking why. After about ten minutes he came and sat next to me on the couch.
“I got a phone call from Matt.” He started. “They had to call 911 and take the baby to the hospital.”
Matt is married to our daughter, Lisa, and the baby is Ethan James. He was only eight days old. They live in Indiana, and our first time to even hold him was still two weeks away.
I cannot explain how much you can love someone you’ve never met, but our newest grandson had already become very dear. My heart skipped a beat at this news.
Alan went on to explain that Ethan had quit breathing twice in rapid succession, and was turning blue when they called for an ambulance. Lisa rode with her new son to the hospital.
Once there they ran every test that made sense. An EKG checked his heart and blood work screened for abnormalities, but nothing showed a red flag. They were all sent home a few hours later with a diagnosis of reflux. The theory was that when Ethan was laid down after eating the milk was coming back up and gagging him, causing his breathing to stop.
“Don’t put him down for a while after he eats. Prop the head of his crib up. And keep a close eye on him.”
That’s all they got. Watch to make sure he’s breathing. Not much comfort for parents of a newborn.
First thing the next morning they went and bought an apnea monitor, so that they didn’t have to spend another night listening to see if Ethan was still breathing. It was a very wise investment.
While I was relieved to hear about the monitor, this is what went through my head: “That’s good. But our trust is in You alone.”
God is the Author and Creator of life. To some of us He grants many, many years. Others live only days, or minutes.
Frankly, I don’t understand that. Those who long to be parents but miscarry and will not know their children this side of heaven. Babies dying of SIDS. Parents burying their kids. Everything in me cries out how wrong that is. And I am again reminded how differently God sees things.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
It’s the struggle of the imperfect, finite mind to even begin to comprehend the holy and infinite. I cannot fathom it. But feelings lie, and I can only cling to what I, in the very deepest part of my soul, know to be true: God is good. Those babies are not lost—they are with Jesus. However short, their lives have meaning that is not measured by the length of it, but by the One who loves them most. Grief and faith wrestle; God alone is constant.
Ethan’s apnea monitor went off a few times the next few nights, but hasn’t since. We will get to hold him and count his fingers and toes for ourselves in six days. God is good.
He would be good even if He had chosen to take Ethan.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16
Father, help me to trust what I know is true about You more than I trust what I feel. You love each person created. You grieve with us when our babies die. You are the only One who truly understands—You watched Your own Son suffer and die. Hold those who grieve close to Your heart. Heaven becomes more precious as those we love wait there for us.
- What hard thing has God allowed in your life that you don’t understand?
- Do you believe that, in spite of it, God is good?
- Take your hurt, your pain, and your suffering to Him. Cry and wail and tell Him how you feel. Then rest, knowing that He understands your feelings, He loves you, and He is indeed good.
Father, You are good. Even when I don’t understand why You allow tragedy and such deep sorrow, I know You are good. I believe that. Help my unbelief.