Where Were You?
Updated: Jul 8, 2020
As I reluctantly climbed into the hospital bed for my induction, my heart continued to sink into the depths of disbelief. How could this happen? Stillbirth. This is something that used to happen two hundred years ago. It doesn’t happen now. And it definitely doesn’t happen to me…
My husband and I stared at my pregnant belly for hours, hoping to see the familiar kicks against my skin. We prayed and prayed. Prayers that begged, hoped, and believed; but my stomach stayed still. And we heard nothing. We felt nothing. Where were you God when we needed you most?
My husband and I, by churchly standards, are good Christians. We go to church every Sunday, serve in ministries, pray and read the bible on our own time during the week, and try to live lives that honor the Lord. We have both seen God work miracles in our lives and we have both felt his covering on our family. So why the silence now?
I have wrestled with feeling like God wasn’t there when I needed him most. I mean, isn’t this why I am a christian? So that my God can come and rescue me from disaster. But in that hospital room, the only sounds were beeping machines.
This question of abandonment leads me to one place: is my God really sovereign? Is he really in control? Because it doesn’t feel or look like it.
As Christians, we believe that God is in control at all times and is all powerful. But when difficulty struck, the idea of his sovereignty was contradicted with my view of reality. How could a good God let this happen? How could an all powerful God stand by and do nothing. If I truly do believe God is all powerful, then I am left with the feeble answer I have heard from many of my friends, that God “allowed this to happen for a reason”. But every mother who has lost her child knows in her heart, this answer is complete bullshit. People just say it because they are trying to make themselves feel better about your circumstance, or worse, they actually believe it. But take heart, I am not one of those friends.
I know that no matter how many people your story touches, no matter how many books you write and sell, or how many subscribers you get on your blog, no matter how many women’s events you are asked to speak at and how many crowds are changed by your story, the impact will always fall short. Because you would give anything to have what you lost and never have written the book, or spoke at the conference, or started the blog. I don’t believe bad things just happen. I believe that bad things happen by the will of the Lord. The bible says in Matthew 5:45b, “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Bad things happen because God wills them to. But I also I believe that God, when creating the world had a beautiful plan for your life and your baby’s life. A plan that was perfect, where they lived and you got to live in a perfect world with them. But then Adam and Eve did their thing, and everything changed. God now had to re-work his plan because sin ruined it all. Sin was the birth of redemption. God knew my son was going to die. So he sent his son to die, so that he could redeem Jasper’s life and reclaim it from the ashes of sin. Unfortunately, I have to walk through death’s door before I have the opportunity to be with my son. But I will do it. And so will you. We all have to die to live.
Redemption is my only grasp on God’s sovereignty. And it is the only thing that keeps me believing in it. To redeem means to regain possession of or to reclaim. Sin stole my son from me, but God has already claimed him on my behalf. I don’t believe God “allowed” this to happen in my life. If I believe this, then I am stripping power from my all powerful God. This statement makes God the clean up crew, not the designer. God has had to re-work his perfect plan for my family’s life and is slowly redeeming us back to his original blueprints. The death of my son Jasper is evidence of God’s sovereignty, not the lack thereof.
The senior pastor of one of our network churches met with my husband shortly after Jasper passed. They talked of many things concerning loss, and during the conversation he gave my husband a book for us to read. “A Grace Disguised” by Jerry Sitter is a book about catastrophic loss. Jerry recounts the loss of his mother, wife, and one of his children in the same drunk driver car accident and then shares his journey through. Because loss is relative, there were some parts of his book that didn’t apply to our situation, but the pain of loss is universal. So we read it.
Jerry addresses the idea that he also felt like his God has abandoned his family and chose not to save them. He too wrestled with God’s sovereignty. But then he says this, “Then one night, as I lay sleepless in bed, I saw the accident in a new light. I was standing in a field with my three children, near the scene of the accident. The four of us were watching our minivan as it rounded that same curve. An oncoming car jumped its lane, just as it had in the accident, and collided with our van. We witnessed the violence, the pandemonium, and the death, just as we had experienced it in real life. Suddenly a beautiful light enveloped the scene. It illuminated everything. The light forced us to see in even greater detail the destruction of the accident. But it also enabled us to see the presence of God in that place. I knew in that moment that God was there at the accident. God was there to welcome our loved ones into heaven. God was there to comfort us. God was there to send those of us who survived in a new direction.”
I have to be honest, when I read this, I instantly broke down and had my first panic attack. I was instantly at war with myself. My head was trying to reject this notion and blame, blame, blame God for my loss. But my heart knew instantly it was soaking in truth.
In that hospital room, my husband laid next to me, and our love for one another grew deeper. Don't ask me how; it just did. We had just witnessed the devastation of sin first hand, while simultaneously encountering the divine. We promised to love one another through better or worse; a covenant that was made by God for us. God was there because He lives in my husband and I and He upholds our marriage.
When my parents brought our living son to us, we saw him in a new light too. Jaxon was a gift from God because He knew we would need our son's precious smile to help ease our pain. And then God surrounded us with our family and friends, whom are so easy to take for granted.
God may have been silent in my hospital room, but he wasn’t absent. God was there. The very moment my son’s heart beat its last, God was there to receive him into heaven. He was there to comfort us. And he was there show us the new course for our family. As much as this makes me cry and ache inside and out, I know my son was never left alone and I see pieces of God's original plan still intact in my life. He is in control because He has kept sin from stealing everything from me. And in the smallest way, it begins to enable me to trust God’s sovereignty again. Although it doesn’t take away my pain, reverse what happened, or make me happy, it makes me begin to believe that God really is for me and is reclaiming this world. Our God is sovereign over our circumstance because he has already redeemed our children and he currently working to redeem us as well. In the mean time, He shows us his infinite love through each other and He never leaves us alone.