Eight weeks to go
But the contractions started. Preterm labor, right? We’ll go to the hospital. IV fluids. Terbutaline. They’ll stop.
Everything will be okay
Everything was not okay
Nervous smiles until the nurse could find no fetal heart tones. No heartbeat. No tiny life inside.
The living womb should never be a tomb.
Ultrasound and tears confirmed the agonizing truth.
Our baby girl was gone.
I stood beside my wife in those surreal moments—those seared-forever-in-my-brain moments and realized not only was our first child dead, but my wife still had to go through labor—still had to deliver our Sara.
I prayed God would make it fast, and He answered my prayer. 90 minutes later our lifeless bundle of lost hopes was in our arms.
We had lived a charmed life—a dream life. High school sweethearts. She’d gotten her dream job teaching third grade. I was following my childhood dream as a junior in medical school. Life was good.
But this tiny life in my arms was gone.
Belief was not on the line for me. Trust was.
I believed in God. My belief never faltered. But did I trust Him?
I don’t believe that moment was a test. I don’t believe God staged the death of my daughter to test me, but I know he was beside me and with me through it all.
Pitocin and morphine worked their wonders as my wife’s labor was shortened and eased. But she still had to go through it. Sweating. Gripping the bed rails. Gritting her teeth. Too intense—too real—no time for tears. She held on enduring each contraction.
As I stood helpless holding her hand, I questioned God—my mind a whirring whirling mess of emotions and whys.
In the midst of my emotional storm, I could hear the crackling voice of the early Christian martyr, Polycarp. As he stood tied to a stake atop a pile of wood, his Roman oppressors goaded him with one last chance to save himself by denouncing Christ and offering allegiance to the emperor. As they held the torch that would burn him alive, he said, “I have served Him 84 years, and he has never failed me. Why would I fail him now?”
Was that enough? That one completely nerdy but real thought? I wasn’t sure. But up to that moment I’d never felt let down by God, so I made the decision to trust.
“No matter what, I’m going to trust You, God.”
Nothing changed. I was still standing there—a wannabe doctor paralyzed by the dark reality of death. My child. Our child. Our supposed-to-be bundle of joy turned into a jumble of tears and drowned hopes.
As I stood beside my young, vulnerable, courageous, never-doubting wife, I felt a sudden warmth and I felt transported. Not some weird metaphysical experience. I was right there—beside her the whole time.
But as I looked down over her, I felt like I was flying upward through the ceiling, through the roof, above the city through the clouds, beyond the atmosphere—looking down upon the turning sphere of Earth.
Just as quickly, the clouds came rushing up toward me. And when I broke through the clouds I was looking down on the cross. My savior hanging by his hands and feet.
No words. No voice from heaven. But I could feel the Father’s words resonate in my soul. In my pain, I caught a glimpse of how God felt.
And I know He knows and He feels my pain. He shared my tears.
Yes, I will trust Him! The God who knows my suffering—who knows my hopes, my fears, my dreams. The God who knows my heart.
Even amidst my heaviest hurt,
I felt His healing.
Did God take away our pain? No. But He understands our pain. He endures our pain alongside us. And He holds us close. We are His bundle of joy—His jumble of tears—His hope.
Jesus endured the cross for the joy He could see in us—the plans He has for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us—plans for a forever future with Him.
Plans that one day include seeing my Sara again.