Monday, February 2, 2015

Losing a child

Some time last year around mid July, a group from our church went to a neighbouring country for a 2-day retreat. I helped to organise the retreat, assisted by the many dedicated and wonderful fellow leaders in the church.

Before I went on the retreat, my wife and I found out that she is pregnant with our second child. Our first child was 12 years old then. We had been praying for a second child for many years. And we were delighted that the Lord has given us the breakthrough. I could not wait to share the good news with my friends and families. We plan to share with our closest friends once we clear the 8-week mark.

We had a wonderful time at the retreat. And it went really well. I shared a room with a fellow brother.

Our second visit to the gynaecologist took place just 2-3 days after the retreat. To our great amazement and dismay, the doctor shared with us that the foetus has stopped growing. The doctor did a hormone test for my wife. A pregnant person has her hormone level doubled everyday. So if my wife's hormone level isn't increasing, it confirms that it is not going well. We went back on the first Thursday after the retreat. It was confirmed that my wife's hormone has dropped. We were offered a procedure to remove the foetus. We asked if the body could reject the foetus on its own. We were told that it is possible. But there is no telling when it would happen. And when it happens there could be a lot of pain and a great deal of blood loss, which may result in an emergency. And the rejection may not be clean. But we decided to still let the body does its thing, as we were trusting for God to revive the child.

When we left the doctor's office we were ok. Our mood was solemn but we have discussed that whatever the outcome, we were going to a nice place that we both like to have something to eat. I did not feel like meeting anyone. I just wanted to leave the hospital with my wife quietly. And lo and behold, I bumped into a church friend J. J and his wife have been believing for a baby for many years. And they found out that his wife is pregnant after the retreat for his group, which happened just before my retreat. It is indeed a wonderful blessing from the Lord! But at that moment there was a stark contrast between us. Like me, he also helped to organize the retreat for his group. But unlike me, he was radiant and happy. And I was caught in my worst. We exchanged some quick hellos and he was surprised to see me, as he did not know that my wife was pregnant. He asked why was I in the hospital and I told him it is a routine checkup. And I did a quick exit.

That night I went to conduct an after action review for the retreat that I helped to organise and my fellow leaders and I had a good time. They had no idea what happened to me earlier in the day. My wife, as always, is a strong support for my serving the Lord. She had not needed me by her side (and miss the after action review with the leaders ) as we had planned it that way.

That weekend, I decided to bring my wife and my daughter to the neighbouring country for our own retreat. Amazingly, the hotel gave us the exact same room as the one I stayed in one week before during the retreat. As the hotel has many rooms, it cannot be a coincidence. It is as if the Lord wanted us to know that He is in control. We had a good time. On Sunday, early in the morning, my wife called out to me. We had lost our child. I helped her and she was ok. There was no pain. We both went back to sleep. And we spent the rest of Sunday shopping, eating well and we went back home.

I shared our loss with many close church friends. I understand Job's story very well. And I know tragic incidents that happen in our lives work to persuade us that God is not good to us. They wear us down. Bend our will. Cause us to give up and finally say with our mouth that God is not a good God. I know too well not to allow that to happen. Frankly, there were many moments that my mind could have wandered into darker places. Like when the doctor told us we lost the child, and when I bumped into a fellow friend J who was in stark contrast to me. Some people may question why would it happen after a faithful serving at the retreat. I know well enough not to ask those questions, which are irrelevant to the goodness of God. I did not let my mind wander into the darker places. When I cannot see clearly, I take out my bottomline belief - which is that that God is a good God. That statement stands alone on its own. No matter what our circumstances are. It will not fail us. To me it is like this - if the Lord died for me when I was a sinner on the way to hell, why would I think that a pile of rubbish that appears at my front door is His doing just because He went away for a while? Because Jesus has given me His life to save me, it is too late to tell me He will pile troubles at my door. He is not like that.

We continue to serve the Lord. And we thank Him that the process of the body rejecting the foetus works very well for us. It was very good timing. There was no pain. It did not cause us any inconvenience. And when our doctor checked my wife again, it was clean and the doctor did not need to do any follow up procedure on my wife. And this is what we hoped for. And at about the time we lost our child that Sunday morning, a sister in the church received the word from the Lord that says "He is with me". The sister later shared with us the word, not knowing what had happened to us. And thus we know that it is a boy. We had always thought that it is a boy. We thank the Lord that my child is with Him. And that He has blessed us with a boy. We will see our child one day. I like a song sang by Watermark called "Glory Baby". The lyrics talks about losing a child and saying that heaven is all that the child will ever know, and that Jesus will hold the child before the parents do. I take great comfort in knowing that. And I am thankful to the Lord for blessing us with the child and looking after our child, who is also His child.

After the incident, I gave up trying to have a second child. And amazingly, my wife conceived shortly after in September, less than two months after our child went to be with the Lord. Our son will be born June 2015. Praise God! It is quite a miracle for a couple who isn't trying, and has not been able to conceive for so many years. I know the Lord has restored us. He is a God that gives us beauty instead of ashes, and oil of gladness instead of mourning (Isaiah 61:3). He is our shield and our exceeding great reward (Genesis 15:1). He is our shield, our glory and the lifter of our heads. And those who trust in the Lord shall not be put to shame (Romans 10:11, Isaiah 28:16).

I think a reader would be able to draw many object lessons from our testimony. Remember. In our lives when everything does not seem to work, you only need to grab hold of Jesus. Never let Him go. He is and will always be our only Hope.

Every challenge in life is an opportunity to trust God and walk with Him. It is beautiful to see Him lift us out of our troubles. Walking well with the Lord takes practice. Every challenge (we did not invite them) is a lemon. But they still work in our favor when we hold on to Him. They just caused us to walk more skillfully with the Lord and enjoy more of His blessings in restoration. In heaven, we will have so many wonderful conversations with the Lord on even "lemons" :). I could picture and imagine those warm conversations I would have with my Lord, my Friend and Savior. 

Blessed is the man who makes Yahweh his trust, And doesn't respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. 
Many, Yahweh, my God, are the wonderful works which you have done, And your thoughts which are toward us. They can't be set in order to you; If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. -Psalms 40:5 (WEB)

Afterthought 2:
One should not make his blog post too complicated. Thus, I am only adding this additional part of the story here. Actually, there was further challenge on the current pregnancy when it just passed the first trimester. It happened one day after church. We were still in the church vicinity. My wife went to the restroom and found that there is a large discharge of blood. She called my mobile for me to meet her immediately. It instantly reminded us of the pregnancy just prior to this that also had such symptoms. This one is even more severe. 

Would we also lose this pregnancy? Now that I have shared my glorious testimony of the Lord's restoration with my church friends, how do I prepare them to receive such news of a second failure? What would happen to their faith? And for me, it is a second hit in a short time. Would I still now believe that God is good? Or would this incident cause me to change my mind about God? 

Those thoughts came to me. Frankly, on a logical basis I know that such blood discharges could mean that the pregnancy is not going well. My wife, as always, is as cool as a cucumber. She told me to bring her home to wash up and then go to the hospital emergency. She is a remarkable woman. We did all we needed to do with much calm. And then we were at the hospital emergency room. 

The doctor scanned my wife. And told us the pregnancy is alright. We could not believe our ears. Praise God! The following week, we went back to our regular doctor. It is confirmed that not only is the pregnancy good, my child is growing above average! Praise God! The doctor could not quite explain why is there a sudden discharge. And we choose to ignore it. Over the span of 1 month, it slowly ebbed and then went away. 

If I have something to say it is this. Walking with the Lord, we are called to walk courageously. Because our God is strong and He will resolve every matter. Jesus kept saying "Don't be afraid" to the people around Him and to His disciples. And today the Lord would be saying the same to us. Don't be afraid. Because our God is mighty. Come what may, our God will settle it with His own Right hand. Be prepared. Have that resolve within us. Know this: that though circumstances may take us by surprise, they never take our God by surprise. Our God is our ready help. All the time. 

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. - Psalms 46:1 (WEB)

Haven't I commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; don't be afraid, neither be dismayed: for Yahweh your God is with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9 (WEB)

If you falter in the time of trouble, Your strength is small. -Proverbs 24:10 (WEB)