Ever since I was a little girl, Easter was my favorite holiday. I remember waking up at the crack of dawn in excitement go with my dad to the Easter Sunrise Service. We would drive out to the cemetery and meet with several other churches in a beautiful chapel tucked away in the trees. As the sun came up, the rays would shine through the open slats making it look like Christ himself was getting ready to make a physical showing at His own service.
As a young child, the ONLY part of Holy Week that I truly wanted to celebrate was Easter. However, as the years roll by, the more I can and want to see the FULL picture. Without Good Friday there would be no Easter. Period.
God the Father had to allow His ONE and ONLY son to be used as the PERFECT payment for our debt. Would I give up my one and only son for a sinful humanity? Which raises another question…What would it be like to lose a child? Even if for only a short time. What horrible events did the Father have to watch as His precious Son submitted to His Fathers will for us? Can you even imagine watching your child go through this? Had Jesus said “no” to the cross, (and He DID have a choice) there would be no Easter morning… No gift of eternal life in paradise forever.
As I thought about God the Father watching His PERFECT son being crucified for sinful people, I started thinking of all those who have lost a child. I can’t even begin to imagine or understand the heartache and pain that’s involved in losing a child, but God the Father can…and did…on Good Friday.
My brother and sister-in-law have been gracious enough to share their story with us, so that we can have a better understanding of part of the sacrifice made on Good Friday. Here is their story:
“When you lose a parent, you become an orphan. When you lose a spouse, you become a widow/widower. When you lose a child there is no name for it. It is unnatural, something that shouldn’t happen. Perhaps we are unwilling to name the unthinkable.
In 2011, we found out we were expecting a second baby. You guessed it another GIRL! Our excitement quickly turned into fear and heartache as we were told she had a heart defect that would require 3 surgeries total with a life of monitoring and medication. My heart sank. Why my child? She is innocent. Yet, I knew the Lord had given us this precious child for a reason. He knew exactly who she was inside and out. I clang to psalm 139:13-14 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mothers’ womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Shalom decided to make her grand appearance on February 29th, 2012 …Leap year of course! Where we were given just a few minutes to take a picture and she was whisked away to the NICU. The following week she had to have her first open heart surgery. Our girl did amazing and her first heart surgery was a success! We were able to take Shalom home just in time to spend Easter at home with our two girls. GOD IS GOOD! He got us through what we thought at the time would be the hardest thing we would ever have to go through.
We spent 4 wonderful months at home with her. She was a mama’s girl and I didn’t mind one bit. Her second surgery came quickly and once again we found ourselves in a hospital room with our 6-month-old baby in a cute little hospital gown. Praying over her and giving her as many hugs and kisses as we could squeeze in. I didn’t want to let her go. Hours passed in that waiting room and finally we heard the great news. She was out of surgery and doing great and we could go see her. Praise Jesus!! I knew he would get us through this once again! Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord your god who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.
Our “high” of a successful surgery soon became a “low” as days passed and they couldn’t get Shalom off the breathing tube. We were told her lungs were very sick. After many failed procedures we were given a final option. Placing Shalom on the ECMO machine, which would allow her lungs and body to rest and heal over the next week. My husband and I sat through several attempts to wean her off the machine. Unfortunately, her oxygen would drop every time. This couldn’t be happening. We refused to believe it and kept trusting that God would heal her.
Days passed, Shalom wasn’t doing any better. We were finally told that there was nothing more they could do. We needed to make the decision to take her off life support soon. There was no way I could do that! That was my sweet baby. We wept and prayed. God knew our hurt. He was gracious and made the decision for us that day. Within the hour of being given that news, the doctors rushed back telling us to get back to her room. Our Shalom was declining. They made the room as comfortable as possible for us where they handed her to me to hold her for the last time. She was so beautiful! Shalom passed away peacefully in my arms that afternoon. She was home with her savior and pain free!
Leaving the hospital without your child knowing you won’t get them back is gut wrenching. The thing about death is there is nothing you can do about it anymore. When your child is sick you are still physically able to hug them, kiss them, and nurture them. You still have hope and you still feel like you have some control. When your child passes… it’s done. You are helpless and have no more control of the situation. That’s when all the stages of grief come. The sadness, anger, questioning, quilt, and so on.
God continued to be faithful to us as we went through ALL of those stages. One day, as I sat on my front step crying out in anger and confusion, he quickly reminded me that he knew my pain. He too had watched his innocent son Jesus suffer and die. (John 3:16.) He knew exactly what it was like to lose a child. My heart swelled knowing that my GOD knew my heartache. He had also placed people in our life that shared our pain. Which were my parents who had lost two sons. We were able to cry, talk, pray, and know they truly understood the loss of a child and we were not alone. We knew if God could get them through the loss of 2 children, He could get us through losing Shalom.
I may never know the reason here on earth why god chose to take our precious daughter home and that’s ok. I had 6 amazing months with her! I am still in awe over our amazing God and how He held us together on our darkest days. Looking back, I see all the good things he did through our pain and still continues to do so. In 6 short months, God used Shalom to touch so many lives. Our daughter’s heart condition allowed us to witness to many people during that time and still today. He gave us lifelong friends who we cherish, family that stood by us, and drew my husband and I closer together. He has since blessed us with 3 more HEALTHY daughters after Shalom, making me realize to never take our health for granted. Life became more precious to me. I am so thankful for these things. I rest in knowing this is all a part of his plan. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the lord, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
We still cry, we still miss her, and there is still a little piece of me that is missing here on earth. But because of His promise’s, I can daydream about reuniting with Shalom. I picture running through those gates to be greeted by her standing next to Jesus holding his hand, both smiling at me. Throwing my arms around her and squeezing tightly crying tears of joy. Knowing nothing will separate us ever again! He has given me indescribable peace that no one else can. He has given me joy back in my life even though I have gone through the unthinkable. My hope is in Jesus and I know that because through Him, I will spend eternity in his presence with my daughter.
You can receive this free gift of eternal life if you choose to accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior. He loves you so much and wants a relationship with you; that is His heart’s desire! John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
May we never forget the precious sacrifice made on Good Friday…