This question has scarred my conscience and my soul. I found it cannot be fully answered. What I can do, is share my experience as my wife and I watched helplessly as two of our children died in our arms.
I can’t imagine a greater pain, or a greater sense of loss, then when you stand by helplessly watching your child’s life drift away. If you are reading this and are bitter or angry with God because you have experienced great loss in your life, or you are now, going through a great trial, I understand how you feel. I hope this post will in some way help you get beyond the pain and see that God loves us through the hurt and loss.
The bible says in 2 Corinthians chapter 8 that the children of God may be pressed down but not crushed, struck down but not destroyed. I didn’t know it, but my wife and I were going to put that text and others to the test.
My wife and I gave our lives to Christ over two decades ago. We were involved in charity, helping others with our time and our finances and I was attending church a couple times a week as well as conferences and other meetings. We were reading the bible and praying regularly. Everything the book of James says is the evidence of genuine faith. I say this not to garner credit in anyway, only to set the stage of our disposition before the storm hit.
About six months after our marriage, my wife and I were visiting friends for the weekend and accompanied them to the small church they were attending. Someone who we did not know approached my wife after the service and said God had given her a message for her the night before. This lady was reluctant to share the message, as it was intimate in nature and could easily upset both my wife and myself. It took great courage in my opinion to speak up. She could have been wrong, but she stepped out in faith anyway and we were both glad she did.
My wife was struggling with terrible anxiety, to the point it was affecting her sleep. My wife’s stress stemmed from her concern that she would be unable to conceive children, due to some health issues in her past. I was completely unaware of her inner turmoil until that day at our friends church, but God was not. My wife down somewhat uncomfortable as what was going to be said. God had impressed upon this stranger to us, that my wife was troubled about being able to have a child and that he [the Lord] was going to bless her with a child. Tears began to stream down my wife’s cheek as this strange began to pray for her. She began to pray for my wife’s healing and at this point, my wife experienced a burning sensation in her abdomen, so much so, soaked through her top. She came over to me afterword to hug me and I had thought she had spilled a cup of water on herself.
We were absolutely amazed as we pondered that the God of heaven, takes an intimate interest in the lives of his children, that he knows what we are going though. You see, we were new Christians and these were new friends we had met. They lived a boat ride away from us and we had not seen them since we had met six months earlier. No one there knew anything about our personal lives, but we learned God knew. He is a Father, intimate and caring about every aspect of our lives.
Five years later, we were wondering if the word my wife received was from God or not. Our child had not arrived and my wife was turning forty. As our faith waned, we would always be reminded of Abraham and Sarah, who waiting twenty five years for their promised child. We consciously decided to focus on what we believed God had said and not on our current circumstances. We would remind ourselves that personal, intimate information was revealed by this stranger that only God knew and something had taken place in my wife’s abdomen.
Happy birthday!, not so much, my wife turned forty and with that milestone came more discouragement. Pregnancy testers in the garbage were becoming a common sight as we struggled to hold onto that message so long ago. We began looking into the adoption process. Maybe when God say he would give her a child he meant adoption. So about a month later my wife asks me if I want to go look at some baby clothes and I said no, we had done a lot of that already and frankly, I didn’t see the point. That is until she showed me the pregnancy tester, my wife was pregnant!! I could not contain myself.
I cannot tell you the excitement and joy we experienced, we did hear from God and we were starting our family. Skeptics would say the odds were in that strangers favor, but we knew God made an appearance that day years ago.
I was hoping for a son. For years I had been dreaming of raising a son and all the experiences we would have together. Adventures like Hockey, fishing, building forts, go-carts, and riding our bikes. He could help me with my motorcycles and cars and we would laugh at passing gas and grousing out his mother. If we had a son, we agreed his name would be Joshua Robert, if a daughter, her name would be Sara Rose.
My wife was in fantastic shape, as she ran several miles every week, swimming and doing other activities. The excitement was mounting, shopping, dreaming and planning as the months went on. I was even following an internet site every week that showed the development and progress of baby as it grew in the womb.
At twenty three weeks my wife began experiencing light contractions called, “Braxton Hicks”, nothing to worry about, that was normal we were told and also saw on the baby website.
A friend suggested we go to the hospital for a check as the contractions had been going on most of the day. So we went to the emergency as a precaution expecting nothing, then our lives were turned upside down. My wife was admitted, doctors began feverishly to try and stop our baby from being born because he was a week from any possibility of surviving. Nurses assured us that in 95% of cases the contractions are stopped, which eased our stress. That and we had a promise from God. The doctors successfully managed to keep Josh from delivering. That was until Josh hit twenty four weeks and two days gestation.
The situation was looking grim, and the doctor began to council my wife about her pregnancy terminating. Several times he told her there would be nothing he could do if the pregnancy terminated. We were aware that his gestation was borderline survivability, but he was offering no hope what so ever and was telling us he had no intention of trying to save our baby.
As I was there at my wife’s bedside it was clear the doctors and nurses were losing the battle, Josh was arriving whether we were ready or not. In the midst of all the chaos tubes machines towels and blood, the head pediatrician turned to my wife and said, the pregnancy was going to terminate. I said What! He said to my wife again, as he would not look at me, that the fetus was not viable and there was no more to be done. At that time, twenty four weeks was the demarcation line between possible life and hopelessness. I lost it.
My wife was now inconsolable; I told the doctor in no uncertain terms that he would do whatever was necessary to deliver our baby, alive! The nurses were startled by my outburst and stopped their activity looking at the doctor, and then he agreed to deliver Josh by emergency cesarean section. My wife was rushed out of her room and down to the operating room. I ran with them holding my wife’s hand as she was crying and asking for help. Nurses stopped me at a set of swinging doors as my wife was wrenched out of my hand and the doors swung shut. I have never felt such helplessness.
I found myself alone in a cold sterile hall, unable to be with my wife and my child. My mind was racing and thoughts filled my head that I may not see either of them again. Twenty four week and two days was on the line between hopeless and serious problems and what about God’s promise. I was a mess I have to say. I would love to tell you that my faith kept me fearless and I knew that everything would be fine, but I can’t. I was terrified, confused and a little angry. Where was God? “Where are you Lord” I was crying out in my head? “My wife and child need you now. I need you.”
This situation deteriorated rapidly. Our close friends were at work and our families were half way across the country. I was numb and could hardly even pray. Pray, I could hardly stand. I could only imagine how terrified my wife was at this point. Five years we waited for this child. Where was my faith? Where was the strength I had read about? I was barely keeping it together.