Four doctors in surgical greens stood before Dave and Jana at the Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena.
I stood by helplessly as one doctor spoke. "Your baby has died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. We want to give you a chance to hold your child before we take her."
I watched this young couple; their shoulders shook with emotion as they held their firstborn for the last time.
My mind raced to find something to say to the shocked young couple.
I wanted to tell them that everything would be okay, but that wasn’t true.
Their baby was dead.
All my pastoral training and experience seemed to fail me then.
"Dave and Jana," I began, with words that were broken and slow, "I don’t know why this awful loss has to come to you. But I know God loves you as if you were the only ones in the whole world to love. If you accept his love…if you believe he does love you, you’ll make it. If you don’t, you won’t."
Those were the only words I had for them. They seemed awfully empty at the time.
I choked back my own emotions while they tried valiantly to cling to their newfound faith.
But something happened in that hospital room.
Neither the couple nor I had words to erase the pain.
A Holy Presence invaded that place.
God joined the three of us.
Just as in the Old Testament story of the fiery furnace, when God himself came to comfort Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we felt in the fiery trial of suffering an assurance that God was caring for us.
In all the pain, I remembered what a precious time we had a few weeks earlier when we dedicated their baby in the worship service.
I confess that a few times in my ministry, the whys from my heart have almost made me quit.
I am sure you have experienced similar anguish.
But in our heart of hearts we know that there is no satisfactory human answer to the problem of evil.
One day, after coming to Focus on the Family, I received a letter with a picture of Dave and Jana holding a beautiful baby.
H. B., you probably don’t think we heard you when you encouraged us to cling to the love of God when our baby died.
But we heard you clearly.
So we have believed over and over that God loves us as if we were the only ones to love.
We have learned to live in the love of God.
We quote your words to each other often.
The Lord is gracious.
Notice in the picture we are holding a beautiful new baby—God’s special gift to us.
We don’t understand why we lost our first child.
We still hurt when we think about it, but we don’t question God anymore…
I have thought a lot about their faith and mine since receiving that letter.
Some tough situations are mysteries beyond our comprehension.
Mysteries greater than our answers.
Mysteries that stretch our faith.
Mysteries that force us to turn to God because we can’t find answers anywhere else.
Related Text Illustrations
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Often time, the difference between serving the Lord significantly and just using up the time period we call our lifespan is just a little bit of faith and courage; not a lot of it, just a little faith exercised in fear and trembling!