If you read my last blog post you may recall that my wife Sara and I were completely surprised when she found out she was pregnant. We had definitely not planned on adding another child to our family but, nevertheless, here we were getting ready to welcome our new family member into the world. As I fretted about this and that, God began to show me that there was no need to fret, that He had everything under control. At every step of the way, He has continued to show us that His plan was to add this new baby to our family and He would take care of the details.
And so, in the early morning hours of April 7th, I stood by a hospital bed in Buffalo as Sara labored, getting ready to deliver our fifth son! As I stood next to her, I was transported back to just over fourteen years, on the evening of February 16th, 2004, at St. Francis Hospital in Shakopee. Sara was again in labor, but this time about to give birth to our first child who was only 19 weeks and 5 days along. Her water had broken two days before and we were told by doctors that there was nothing they could do to save the baby. The baby needed the lost amniotic fluid to develop the lungs, and at 19 weeks and 3 days the baby would not have the ability to survive once it was delivered. I stood next to Sara as she labored in grief, knowing that she was going to deliver a baby who had no chance of surviving. She was not going to experience the joy mothers receive after laboring, holding their newborn child.
Our baby boy was born at 9:03 p.m. on February 16th, 2004, two days before his first scheduled ultrasound. The delivery room was quiet apart from some sniffles from nurses, myself, and Sara. I was handed my son as his heart beat, but he was unable to breathe with lungs that had not yet been developed. Right after he was born, Sara and I decided to name him Joseph. I prayed as I looked at Joseph dying in my arms and thanked God for this moment—thanking Him that He was working this tragedy for our good and for Joseph’s good. In my grief, I was grateful because of Jesus’ life and death that, instead of despair, we had a hope!
When we found out we were going to lose Joseph, we were reminded of Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purposes.” We clung to that promise as though it was a life preserver! When we were tempted to despair, we were reminded that God was working for our good, and, in the following verses of Romans 8, “that nothing could separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.” What promises!
At 9:20 p.m. Joseph’s heart stopped beating and he was gone from us. What a privilege it was for me to share those seventeen minutes with him. And what a hope, knowing that when we see him again, we will get to spend much more time together than just seventeen minutes. It was in this moment that I was amazed by the joy that I felt. And Sara was experiencing the same thing! We were grieving, yet we knew we were grieving with the One who had paid our debt on the cross and had lived a perfect life on our behalf. As Sara and I comforted each other in the hours and days after losing Joseph, we experienced Jesus right there with us. His arms encompassing us, He reminded us that there is joy in sorrow and that He was working these circumstances for our good.
At 6:34 a.m. on April 7th, 2018, Charles Thomas was born. Both Sara and Charlie were healthy! As we held Charlie for the first time, tears of joy were shed. We were struck that, though the outcomes of Joseph and Charlie’s births were very different, we experienced joy in both moments. Joy in our sorrow in one instance and joy in our happiness in another. And in both instances we rested in the fact that God was working for our good. I prayed a very similar prayer when I held Charlie for the first time as I had when I held Joseph. I thanked God for this great privilege of another son and thanked Him that, though I didn’t know what God had in store for Charlie’s life, I knew that he would be working for his good. God’s promises to His people allow us to live a life of joy every day. What a hope we have knowing that He is working for our good at all times!
Note: If anyone has lost a child or had a miscarriage, I believe you would find great encouragement from the book, Safe in the Arms of Jesus, by John MacArthur.