An honest, true story about doubts, hardship, and fire-refined faith – dedicated to those who have been through the storm of losing a little one.. may you be refreshed with a newfound hope this Easter season.
In memory of those lost to and currently fighting congenital anomalies
It’s just a number, right? Eighteen. Seems indifferent, detached, unimportant.
Until it’s a part of a human life, a beating heart, a growing boy.
The long awaited boy, after she’s had four beautiful, hands-full girls. Four girls she’d tenderly loved and sacrificed for 17 years now. And when she’d decided not to try for this boy anymore, after the necessary procedure and subsequent doctor’s predictions of less than 1% conceiving – sterile. Yeah, quite impossible, they said – but the impossible – became – possible.
Because even after this supposed infertility there he came forth still and small inside of her, cells dividing and DNA replicating – miracle child – fighting the odds. And on the day when they rubbed jelly on her belly, camera focusing in to her uterus, her soul, the picture became clear and they had an answer. It’s a boy.
A baby boy.
Yeah, the picture became clear – and murky all at once – because on that day was when her heart started to gape, so fast and black you’d believe everything would crumble and suck in underneath it until the whole world tipped – at least her world – because the news that followed was anything but favorable.
Still he kept growing in her softly and her heart kept flailing for a solid ground, a reason why now, why us, why him?
Because the swarm of pictures and lab results confirmed her boy titled to a number. Eighteen. Later they explained it was an extra chromosome, a genetic disorder called Trisomy 18, and, ma’am are you listening? and her world tipped a little more, gravity forcing her to skid down in a spiral from any kind of grip of normalcy again.
Oh yeah, no grip at all and then the freefall came and she heard the murmurs explaining something about the baby having a 50% chance of being a stillbirth if she carries all the way and there’s no known cause, only risk factors and she starts wondering if she had eaten better or gotten more sleep or worried or yelled less or even prayed more would this outcome be different?
Would it be different if I’d…
And then the possibilities and guilt crashed down wave after wave as they described more about the baby potentially having kidney or brain problems, or a hole in his heart and she’d felt that hole full well and her chest rattled the big question,
Why wouldn’t I rock him to sleep or watch him take his first steps or swing a bat or teach him to drive or take his first date to prom? At each lost memory her heart wrenched a little deeper, doubted a little more, begged for a miracle.
Was it my fault?
But as the weeks went on and the pictures kept proving that there hadn’t been a miracle, no, the backdrop of black got heavier and her flicker of hope faded to helpless. If He is the Almighty, if He is Able why is He at a standstill?
Her faith was shattered and the pieces seemed to vaporize in thin air where it seemed she’d never be able to grasp them again. Her normalcy was now having no control over all the events around her, no, she just knew the emptiness was within her and she could try to run back but she’d never get the past again. How would they make it?
Because the cold winter night came, five days before Christmas and the second-shortest day of sunlight in the whole year, and the darkness seemed to birth where no light would quench it. The moment unexpectedly came, 11 weeks before he was supposed to, but she fought and he was a fighter within her, and she was afraid but he was brave and the monitors kept getting louder and louder and the pain greater and greater until finally it was done and he was there and there was no cry.
Where was the miracle?
The weeks that followed were just a haze, moments of outside window color then sunken down deep again under the covers that never got warm. The January cold seemed to follow her from the gravesite to every other area in her life and, if she was honest, wondered if she would ever motion in sync with the rest of the world again instead of lying there frozen in space?
What good was it to believe in miracles if they didn’t happen?
Why was my only son born to die?
The clouds closed up and the earth shook as another mother lay at the foot of her Son’s slaying only moments ago. It was finished, and yet it was hanging in the air, this Son of her’s whom she’d been with in the whole of His living and dying. All was still and the crowd dissipated their condolences one by one until she felt left alone to grieve at the grave in which everyone else seemed to move right on past. His last cries wrung in her ears as she searched the same question he uttered in front of all to see, to scrutinize — my God, my God, why have You forsaken me?
Was I ignorant to believe in a miracle, she wondered?
They spat and laughed and she could not grasp if His Kingship was really true where was His crown of control on this cross instead of shameful defeat called death?
If He is the only Son of God, they mocked, let Him get himself down from the cross!
But he hung there still and quiet dying a death that appeared to not have authority or power but weakness, humiliation and failure. Why would God do that?
Everything she had believed in seemed to cave in beneath her as she tried to push against the anger, tears and doubt.
Her mourning grew deeper as the next couple days’ sun had risen and set again, but then the third rise came and she lifted her head up to hear the crowds stirring about on the streets – some in shock, some in terror, and some with an unshakable New Hope.
It was over 2,000 years ago that this God-man, God literally as a man came down to this earth as a baby. God as a baby.
Why a baby, when He could have come in an earthquake or a hurricane, something mightier? Oh but He came all 8 pounds of flesh and blood in humble submission to our world – so he could relate, so He could feel what we feel, endure what we endure. He grew up and he came not to judge our world but to save it. He came to be with, to eat with, to live with, and to love. He came and He did not reject the lowly, the little ones, or the different ones. He came but He did not merely come to be our friend or our teacher. He came as the image of the Invisible God- holy, perfect, and blameless, but not scarless.
He came to set us free from death, because of our death.
He came because of our rejection to God, our wretched nature which seeks to water-down our need for God, while we are drowning instead with our strong “can-do” faces while we are crippling in all of our soul’s places.
He came to bear death so that we would have an infinite freedom from it if we seek to know Him.
He comes to offer eternal life – and not with a shout or an accusation or a disappointed face, but a Whisper.
Death has been swallowed up. May all who trust in and have a personal relationship with Jesus know that there will be second chances with lost loved ones, there will be a time for unfulfilled dreams and cheated baseball games, there will be a time for warm embraces and there will be a time for time.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” On that day His Father looked away as He willingly bore the wrath of God for the entirety of humanity’s wickedness.
So where was the miracle in this dying?
It was not humiliation, it was not weakness, it was not lack of an answer – it was power at its greatest – agape – burning Love.
He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. – Isaiah 25:8
Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? – 1 Cor. 15:55
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9
For all of our angels – share the awareness – Trisomy 18