Death is a grievous disruption of the eternal life God has always intended for His creation. So inarguably, the death of children most heinously depicts a world gone wrong. The robbery from raising and nurturing our little ones due to their untimely deaths (via miscarriage, stillbirth or otherwise) leaves parents seemingly mocked by Satan with this barrenness.
Just ask my sister-in-law, Sara.
Young and hopeful, Sara and her husband, David, began their marriage on May 25, 2002 like most Christian families; enjoying the gift of each other and looking forward to the days ahead where God might grant them children. And grant them He did.
In January 2005, Sara discovered she was pregnant. Excitement naturally abounded in their family, but sadly, a few short weeks in, she suffered a miscarriage. They named this baby Emma.
The following year, Sara became pregnant again. However, the miscarriage occurred even earlier than the first. They named that baby Lily.
Less than a year later, Sara conceived in December 2006. She’d made it past the first trimester much to her relief. However, the nightmarish pattern once more descended, and the baby miscarried shortly thereafter. They named this child Joshua.
Sadness, confusion and helplessness understandably overshadowed Sara and David.
After three miscarriages in less than three years, Sara sought the advice of other doctors. Then one physician, Dr. Storey, discovered Sara was borderline Protein C deficient. This means blood clots a little too much, which causes insufficient circulation to what her system considers “unnecessary” parts of her body—including her uterus. Also, Dr. Storey told her she likely has Luteal Phase Defect; which means her body does not produce enough progesterone during the first trimester to force the body to stay pregnant.
When Sara conceived again for the fourth time in 2008, they were cautiously hopeful as her doctor prepared a specific treatment plan. Sara followed strict orders of minimal-to-no exercise, a baby aspirin to thin out her blood, and progesterone during the first trimester. She ever-so-anxiously nurtured their fourth child en-utero, and Hannah Lynn was born happy and healthy nine months later on December 13, 2008.
Finally, a child was born! Relieved and joyful, Sara and David were ever thankful to finally hold one of their children in their arms. So, when Sara conceived for the fifth time a mere 13 months later, back to Dr. Storey she went to care for this baby, too.
The first and second trimesters went very well. Adhering to the doctor’s orders, their fifth child–a boy they named Carter–was growing steadily and healthily. However, things took a turn for the unimaginable in her 35th week.
A baby shower on August 27, 2009 (Five weeks before the due date) lent itself to mixed emotions. Sara had had a doctor’s appointment three days earlier that affirmed Carter was fine, and yet, she hadn’t felt him move much at all that day. Sara went through the motions of the celebration, but was very preoccupied. The following morning, she called the doctor to schedule another visit. She didn’t even tell David, thinking her fears were getting the best of her. Unfortunately, it was one of their darkest days that would follow several more. The visit confirmed that tragically, Carter Alan’s heart was no longer beating. Later that same day, they induced labor and beheld his perfect, still little body in the early morning hours of August 29, 2009. Doctors discovered that the umbilical cord had become wrapped and tangled around his legs, which had cut off all blood and oxygen supply.
Even in the midst of such heartache and grief, Sara conceived a few months later, and they were blessed with a sixth child, Abigail Faith, born happy and healthy in September 2010.
Suffice it to say, the trauma of Carter’s death is, among all of their losses, a distinct grief still observed. Going through a pregnancy nearly full-term (where, in many cases, babies survive with medical care after week 28), enduring the labor pains and recovery, and dreading the reality that they would only be able to hold the shell—a perfect shell—of the son they once had, has been the source of much sorrow to this day.
Luther suffered the loss of a child–a daughter, Magdalena, when she was only twelve years old. What is so striking in his writings proceeding her death is his immediate, unshakeable confidence (“I rejoice that she is living with her Father in sweet sleep until that Day.1”), and pangs of melancholy that he remained here on earth. (“ ...the world’s contempt and hatred for the Word of Grace makes me disgusted with life and seeing anything in this horrible Sodom.2”).
Incidentally, Sara and David seem to have responded in kind. Sara shared with me two passages of Scripture that have comforted them since Carter’s death.
“People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18: 15-17
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5: 3-5
What bittersweet joy the unshakeable confidence God has given Sara and David in the midst of such tragedies. It is truly a gift borne solely out of God’s Word–namely the Word-made-flesh, Jesus; who has called all believers out of darkness and into his marvelous light. It is Jesus who gives us faith. It is Jesus who gives us hope. And.it is Jesus who beckons the little children –yes, Emma, Lily, Joshua and Carter–unto him into eternity. Just as God told Jeremiah He knew him before he was formed in the womb, (Jer. 1:5) so too, God knows all of His children!
God remembers the Janes family and continueally abides with them as He does all His people, through His means of grace. Trudging this weary, earthly trail together, God gives us the strength to carry on to our blessed ends and to bear each other’s burdens (Luke 5:6). If readers would like to contact Sara, she has offered her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.