It was a Saturday morning when we found out our baby wouldn’t live. I was at Gary’s drinking a cup of bitter coffee when the phone call came. I walked outside, wandering down the street and out beside the movie theater, where a few trees and scattered patches of grass grew despite the shade of the tall buildings.
For a week and a half we had been driving back and forth to the hospital, dependent on the birth mom to get into the NICU to see our little Annie-girl. The phone call I wanted to receive was the one from the lawyer saying the paperwork had gone through and we had open access to our daughter. Instead, it was the birth mom, in tears. The infection our baby had been fighting since birth had moved to her brain. There was no chance of survival.
I don’t know why I always hear heartbreaking information while I’m out in public. I stood by the tree and pounded my fist against the bark– but I wanted to scream. Throw the phone. Curse at the world and the darkness and the lies and the hurt.
I wanted anything except the tearing agony I felt.
God, my heart groaned, why the hell did you bring us a baby if you were just going to take her away?
That night we sat in the living room and broke the news to our daughter. “It looks like Annie won’t be coming home,” we said. She crumbled and we all sat together, wiping tears.
After awhile, I stood up and sat down at the piano. There were words swirling around in my head. I still hadn’t heard any answers from God– just an underlying question. “Are you still going to trust me, even through this?”
I started singing. I don’t even know where the song came from. “Only You, can make the dry bones arise. Only You, can turn my dark into light. Only You, can number a man’s days. Only You, set the boundaries in place.”
It was my desperate pleading hope that God would perform a miracle, and the hushed acceptance of His will—all wrapped together.
But as I sang, my heart was crying, “God, where are you? How will I survive this?”
When the song ended, I turned and saw my husband and daughter. She had crawled into his lap, though she was almost too big to fit, and cried against his shirt until sleep had claimed her. She looked so peaceful, her body relaxed and content to be held.
He is her daddy, so when heartache crushes her, the safest place is in his arms.
God’s presence seemed to echo in the silent room.
Of course. Of course… He is Abba. Daddy. The God who walks right through the middle of sorrow with us, and holds us when we cry.
When Annie died the next day, my husband asked me what I wanted. I told him I wanted my sister-in-law. So we grabbed a bag of clothes from the house and drove right away—three hours south– so I could curl up on Brianna’s couch and sort through all the sorrow and aching pain while she gave me cups of steaming tea and sent the kids outside to play.
And the one thing that settled peace into my heart when everything else was swirling with pain and fear and anger and loss—was the picture of my husband holding our older daughter and the way her sleep was so soft and quiet and content. Daddy was holding her and everything was going to be okay.
In life we will face heartache, whether we follow God or not. This world is broken. There is death and sorrow and pain. Trusting God won’t change it.
But there is peace available. Peace, even from the midst of sorrow. Peace, even when walking through pain. Peace, even in the hard places.
To find peace in the middle of the storm, we just have to go to our Daddy. To Abba. Father. The God who goes before us, and comes behind us. Our peace.
And there, from the circle of His arms, we can face the sorrow, the anger, the pain. And even as the waves crash, our hearts will be safe.