October 16th last year was the beginning of the hardest chapter of my life. Ten days before our baby’s due date, my doctor couldn’t find his heartbeat, and it was later confirmed that he had passed away (you can read about the whole experience here).
Nothing can prepare you for the death of your child, especially when it’s a baby. It’s the most difficult, soul-crushing experience I think anyone can endure. You feel vulnerable, isolated, and betrayed. Initially, you are overcome with the absolute shock that you lost a baby, but as time goes on, you realize that you lost a person. You can find happiness in normal life, but you are never the same.
This experience has been difficult because it has challenged my faith. I’m not referring to my belief in God. In no way has this experience made me question the existence of God. But it has challenged how I thought God worked. In Christianity, there is a common belief that if you do what is right, God will bless you. He will protect you. You will receive promptings to help you avoid danger. Up until Goodwin’s death, my life had generally gone smoothly. Obviously, I had difficulties, but I felt like God was involved in my life. When Goodwin died, it was very hard for me to understand why I hadn’t received some type of prompting. We were all completely blindsided. If I had received promptings and revelation before, why didn’t I receive it for something so incredibly important to our family?
People may say it was inevitable. It was God’s will. I had to go through this to learn something. It was his time to go.
But the reality is, we don’t fully understand how God works. Maybe some things happen for a reason, but in most cases, I think things happen because we live in a natural world. Our bodies aren’t perfect and people aren’t either. We can’t expect to avoid all accidents and problems. I don’t believe that God causes bad things to happen. They are just part of life. But the mystery is why it feels like God intervenes at times, and at other times does not.
This is why faith can be such a difficult issue during tragedy. If faith means that we believe God will save us from physical disaster, then what happens when we experience tragedy? Did we not have enough faith? I think this line of reasoning is dangerous because it makes our faith in God vulnerable. Instead, I believe that faith in God has much more to do with spiritual changes than physical ones. We can’t always control what happens to us. God may not always rescue us physically, but He will always come to our aid and rescue our souls as we deal with the tragedies around us. To me, this is faith: believing that Jesus Christ is the Great Physician, and trusting in His power to soften our hearts and help us find joy again.
Ultimately, I am grateful that despite tragedy, I have been surrounded by loving people who have shown our family kindness during such a difficult time. In the initial days after Goodwin’s death, the outreach of love was almost tangible. Likewise, I know that God loves us. I may not know exactly how He works, but I do know that He will help us conquer our most bitter sufferings as we turn to Him.
This print was given to me from a friend. It is by Brian Kershisnik. It’s a nice reminder to me that we are loved and not alone.