Hope in the Midst of Heartache

The value of one’s life is not measured by weeks or years.

I wept when I learned that Eden Hope passed away last week. Born at 24 1/2 weeks gestation, she weighed 1 lb.13 oz. Eden steadily gained weight and lived in NICU until she drew her last breath eleven and a half weeks later.

Such a short life span, but the value of one’s life is not measured by weeks or years. Just ask the people whose lives were touched by Eden Hope’s life. I’m one of them.

I physically ached when I imagined being in her mama’s shoes, especially the last time they were together. Did Mama kiss her daughter’s pale rosebud lips? Did she softly caress her infant’s cool face, committing it to memory? Did she breathe in Eden’s scent before the nurse took her away?

I’ve never met Eden’s parents. A friend of mine asked me to pray for that family. The more I prayed and received updates, the more invested I became as though these strangers were my family. I couldn’t get them out of my mind—my heart.

“Eden going home to Jesus” isn’t what I’d prayed for when I heard she’d been scheduled for surgery last week.

I asked for a safe, successful procedure, protection and healing. I prayed that God’s peace and love would surround Eden so she wouldn’t be frightened as she lay (uncomprehending) on that operating table. I prayed that His Spirit would comfort the family while they waited for the outcome. I prayed God would use this agonizing chapter in their lives to draw them closer to Himself and impact people’s lives.

I also prayed, “Thy will be done.” 

But honestly, I didn’t want God’s will if it didn’t line up with mine. I wanted Eden to defy the odds, grow strong, and go home to play with her two sisters. 

Others prayed too for this precious soul who was wonderfully and fearfully made in the image of God. Imagine a band of prayer warriors who never gathered, but rejoiced each time Eden gained another ounce. We grew hopeful with each passing week. For every two steps forward, there was one step backwards. When her health finally took a turn for the worse, we pled for a miracle.

I can’t speak for others, but I wonder if part of me hoped for a life-giving miracle to counterbalance COVID19 and the debilitating bad blood that’s been flowing through our nation’s veins. I needed some good news. I needed some hope.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12 NIV).

My longing wasn’t fulfilled. God’s will, not mine, prevailed.

This morning, tears came when I thought about Eden and how hard she fought to live. But she no longer needs my prayers. I don’t know what her new glorified body looks like, but I know in heaven there is no pain or sorrow. She is healed. She is whole. 

Eden struggled to breathe on earth, but now I picture her inhaling heaven’s pure air and singing at the top of her lungs, “Jesus loves me this I know!”

Yes, Jesus loves her. The same way He loves Eden’s mommy and daddy, her older sisters, you and me. This is lovenot that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

God’s vast and infinite love reminds me to trust His heart when I can’t comprehend His ways. God’s sovereignty assures me that His eternal purposes for Eden’s life were fulfilled. And in the process, He used that small, delicate infant to reveal His love and grace to a hopeless world.

I consider that a miracle. Don’t you?

And a reason to trust God’s heart—even in this heartache.

Photo by: Jennifer Wrede

Can You Trust God?

Untitled drawing (2)My young friend’s six-week-old son passed away. I remember her comment after he was born with a rare syndrome. “We did not expect any of this. It’s been very difficult.”

My heart breaks for her, and several other friends of mine, who are dealing with enormous difficulties they didn’t expect.

I wrestle in prayer for them. Search for words that will encourage them instead of sounding trite because I haven’t been in their shoes. I don’t assume to know what it’s like to watch your spouse’s decling health, have your husband serve you divorce papers, hear your two-year-old daughter has stomach cancer. Then again….

I didn’t expect to have three miscarriages when I was in my thirties.

My two previous pregnancies had been glitch free. Having children was a piece of cake or so I thought until I watched the ultra sound technician searching for the baby’s heartbeat inside my womb.

Prior to my miscarriages, I knew there were no guarantees in life. And yet, I felt shell shocked when the unexpected hit me.

  • Why is this happening?
  • What did I do wrong?
  • Why is God allowing this?

Man’s wisdom fell short. Scripture fell on deaf ears by my third miscarriage because I wanted what I wanted—another healthy baby cradled in my arms. Not this unexpected, empty womb that resembled a grave.

I grieved. I shook my fist at God. Griped about the fairness of life. Questioned God’s love for me. Sulked. Envied mothers with newborn babes.

My friends have shared, and I concur, that our faith is stretched during these difficult times. We’re driven to our knees in prayer. Sometimes we’re spiritually derailed.

What do you think? Is it the rare person who accepts their circumstances without a whimper? Or trusts God sovereignty in their lives without a question mark?

That’s why I love reading the Psalms which are emotionally-packed as King David grapples with his unexpected: the death of his first-born child by Bathsheba; the betrayal of his grown son Absalom.

However, even when David is “in distress, feels wasted from grief, his strength has failed, his body’s wasted, he feels like a broken vessel, his year is filled with sighing” David always seeks God as his refuge.

In Psalm 31, he….

Acknowledges God’s sovereignty.
Remembers God’s wonderful deeds.
Praises God for His goodness.
Trusts the Lord to guide him; trusts Him with his life.

I love how David admits in verse 22 that he felt “cut off from the Lord when he was alarmed” by his circumstances. However, David rises above his emotions to affirm what he knows:

The Lord sees his affliction.
Knows his troubles.
Heard his cry.

After everything he’s been through, David encourages the reader to love the Lord, be strong and courageous, and hope in the Lord.

That’s my prayer for my heartbroken friends even in this….