Artwork by Lily Murphy
I was raised in a loving Christian home and baptized as a young girl. The Lord was always part of our family. This was a great blessing, but I sometimes felt as though I didn’t really have a powerful testimony because I didn’t have a big conversion story where I could say my life changed in a moment.
All my life I wanted to be a wife and mom. My husband and I were blessed with two daughters. On my 30th birthday, I found out I was pregnant with our third child. We were very excited about it. When we had our 20-week ultrasound, I immediately could tell there was something wrong because the technician kept going over the heart of the baby. Then the doctor came in and told us the baby had something wrong with his heart. We were whisked to a high-risk OB who confirmed the diagnosis of the heart problem. Up to this point in my life, I had never experienced the anticipation and fear of the unknown. From the beginning of our son’s diagnosis, the Lord was teaching me—drawing me to Him in a way I had never been drawn. I had never really had to rely on the Lord before—never really experienced a tragedy or serious illness. I can remember thinking it would be easier to miscarry . . . then I wouldn’t have to deal with the pain of the baby being born with the heart problem. I shared this with my dad, and told him that I wished I could be the child and didn’t have to deal with the situation. I wished that I could climb into my dad’s arms and he would take care of it for me. I have come to realize that my heavenly Father WAS taking care of it for me—providing comfort, strength, and perspective all along the difficult journey.
The very next Sunday after we found out about our baby’s condition, we sang the song “He Knows My Name” at church.
I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in his hands (by Tommy Walker)
God gave me this song at just this time to comfort and reassure me. It was almost as if my son was saying this to me. It gave me a great peace.
The doctors gave us three options for our son: compassionate care, heart transplant, or surgeries to repair. We chose the surgeries, all the while praying for a miracle. We knew that God could heal him if He would choose to. One of my friends gave me great perspective when she said, “No matter what, God will heal him—either on this earth or he will be in heaven where he will be completely healed.” I just had to trust God with him.
Our son, Jacob, was born September 5, 2004. He weighed 8 pounds 9 ounces and looked totally healthy—perfect. As the doctor had predicted, he did not have a left ventricle in his heart and some of the arteries that supplied his heart were much smaller than normal. His surgery kept being put off because they thought he had an infection. It was delayed and delayed—which gave us more time with him—and finally it was decided he would have the surgery on September 14. He was wide awake when they took him back. He looked right into our eyes before they took him, and it was like he was saying, “It’s going to be okay.” I believe he died during surgery. After surgery, he was attached to machines on life support—his heart and lungs weren’t working.
The next morning the cardiologist explained that our son’s heart was dead. After much information and prayer, my husband and I decided we would let him go. We called all of our family in, we surrounded him and held him, and we prayed and sang. The family left and my husband and I stayed. Jacob’s little hand was wrapped around my husband’s finger and they turned off life support. The decision to take him off life support was difficult—it was and yet it wasn’t—because of how we felt about his quality of life and because we weren’t afraid of letting him die. There is a mural at our church with the image of big hands with little children’s hands in them and the words, “Given to you, to be brought back to me.” In other words, our children are not our own. They are given to us by God who has entrusted us with their care. God gave us the gift of peace to release Jacob and not be afraid of his future. We knew he was safe. Nothing that this world has to offer can bring the kind of hope that God has given us.
It was a very empty feeling leaving the hospital knowing you should be leaving with a baby but you are leaving that little body there. You feel like life has just stopped and yet it keeps going for everybody else. Time just stood still. It felt like everyone should pause with us, but it was our grief, our pain—and life went on around us. I don’t remember those next few days very well. The choir sang “You Raise Me Up” at the funeral which had become the anthem of my heart. My husband wrote a song for Jacob and sang it at the service. I spoke and our dads prayed.
The comfort that came from the Holy Spirit and from fellow believers that He placed in our life was such a blessing. And eventually we were able to comfort others. About a year later, I shared my testimony about our son at church. There was a man who was visiting who came up afterwards and said his wife was pregnant and that their son had same the same heart defect our son had (what are the chances he would visit our church the day I shared about Jacob!). I gave him our phone number and said if his wife ever wanted to talk, to call. A few months later the man called and said their little fellow had been born and was not doing well. He asked if I had any words to help? Out of nowhere, I felt the Holy Spirit say, “You need to go see them.” In all of my life, I have never heard a clearer message from God. I called my husband and told him and we went. We talked with them and prayed with them and prayed over their son and then we left. We didn’t hear from them for a while—but then when their baby was 39 days old he died. They called and asked if my husband would do the funeral and a 12-year friendship began. The Lord connected us through loss—not expected, but a blessing. It was helpful for us to see a purpose in our pain.
In March of 2006, we were blessed with another son. He has been such a joy to us and I can’t image life without him. If Jacob had lived we might not have had him. I’m thankful that I was blessed to have them both.
I am a nurse and often my patients ask how many kids I have. I say “Three here and one in heaven.” This opens up conversations and allows me to witness and share our story. You just never know how your story will impact others. Because of Jacob, I now have a connection with people who have suffered loss. We can relate to one another and offer hope and encouragement to one another.
God got us through, and even though His plan was hard, there was goodness in it. I have come to know a loving heavenly Father who in our times of trouble wants to comfort us and let us know we are not alone. He doesn’t delight in seeing us in pain but he sees a purpose behind it that sometimes we don’t. He sees the whole picture and we don’t. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord (Isaiah 55:8).
Sometimes even now I will just be hit with grief and I will be so sad but at the same time so thankful. It is true that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I would never want to have that time with Jacob taken away even though it was painful. I have learned every single day is a gift. Knowing that not a single one of us is guaranteed tomorrow, helps me appreciate all the beauty, love, and joy that each day brings.
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.