Heaven is more precious

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

Psalm 139:13-18

The first sight my baby’s eyes saw was the face of Jesus.  Imagine! It steals my breath.  Never will my first child know sin, suffering, or sorrow.  Only the joy of Heaven and someday, the joy of reuniting with Austin and me.  In the meantime, here are sections of a letter I wrote to a few close friends and family members who prayed us through the pregnancy loss.  The letter explains what happened and presents some of our initial insights as the event unfolded.

“Heaven is more precious with each loved one that goes there, and it feels so close to us now that our baby is there.  Even during the worst part of this nightmare, we knew that God would carry us through and redeem the experience by using us as witnesses of His goodness in the face of death.  Your prayers are integral to accomplishing that purpose.  Even now, we see glimmers of the fruit of God’s work during this time.  We are experiencing increased faith, humility, dependency on His moment-to-moment grace, even increased hope as we give our future over to Him.

“I have been thinking about the moment Jesus was baptized, when John ‘saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on [Jesus] like a dove’ (Mark 1:10).  Sudden tragedy, for the Christian, can be a breathtakingly holy moment like this.  It was for us.  When we knew what was about to happen, we prayed with our hearts open to God, offering our child to Him and holding nothing back.  We offered broken but sincere praise to God for whatever He was about to bring.  We told our baby that though we longed to treasure him (we believe it was a boy) as his parents, he could go to Jesus if it was time.  And then the heavens tore open as God accepted our little offering, giving us peace beyond understanding in return.

“Though we are left with immeasurable sadness, we have no regrets, because we know that God ordained all the days of our little one before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16).  Our baby belonged ultimately to his Maker.  We know that God did not steal from us; he graciously allowed us seven joy-filled weeks to nurture that precious life- a gift beyond imagining.  Now, though we don’t see the whole purpose of it, we know we have accomplished the task of nurturing and are ready to begin task of healing.

“God has prepared us for this moment.  He has provided us with enough logical, historical, spiritual evidence for His goodness and enough proof of his individual faithfulness in our lives that, though this death makes no sense, we have the rock-solid conviction that we can still trust Him.  In fact, we can trust nothing but Him.  My heart’s cry echoes psalmist’s words: ‘Whom have I in heaven but you?’ (Psalm 73:25).  We have been forced to realize very quickly that life is fragile and completely out of our control.  As a result, our hope in a future earthly event has shattered, but our hope in the present grace of our God has strengthened.

“The hardest question now, especially since this was our first pregnancy, is ‘what next?’  At first, I forbade myself from asking it.  I want to be a mom SO BADLY and I was afraid to consider any alternatives.  But God’s Spirit answered my ‘what next?’ question by reminding me of Jesus’ words to His disciples: “Follow me.”  In response, the men left everything they knew and loved not because they knew where they were going, but because they knew enough about who they were following to know that His presence was the only worthy pursuit.  In the same way, what’s next for Austin and me is to follow God on the journey He has laid out for us, finding and doing the good work He gives along the way, trusting Him to hold us whether our dreams or our fears come true. We can follow, one footstep at a time, not because we know where we are going, but because we know Who leads us.

“My request for prayer is that God will instill abiding hope in our hearts.  Please pray that we will ‘be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer’ (Romans 12:12).  And please especially pray that God will bless us with a healthy baby we can hold in our arms, soon.  I am learning that it is not wrong or selfish to pound on the door of Heaven like the persistent widow in Luke 18 and beg God for the good and righteous desire of our hearts, so long as we know that despite what our emotions tell us, His plan and timing is better than anything we could ask for. 

“I have learned in the past week that surrender is like courage.  They say courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to persist in spite of the fear.  I now believe that surrender is not the absence of desire, but the willingness to trust God’s providence regardless of whether that desire is fulfilled.  As Jesus in the garden submitted to God’s will but was not afraid to ask His heart’s desire, please come boldly before the throne of grace and ask for help on our behalf in our time of need.  We can’t wait to celebrate with you when God answers, ‘Yes!’ For now, we will walk through this shadowed-but-holy valley, embracing Heaven so near and Christ so strong to save, clinging to the grace that carries us through each moment.”