14 October 2010

I've heard it said ...

This is one of those posts where, depending on what you believe yourself, everything I write is going to seem so upside-down and backwards. Sometimes I take a step back from the faith I claim as true and acknowledge why, from a certain vantage point, things like what I'm about to say may seem nuts.


If you've been reading here for any length of time, you have a decent idea of who I am and what I believe. I'm not shy about expressing it, or being honest about those things that turn me inside-out with fury. A child has died -- this is impossible to reconcile with anyone's idea of how things "should" be. When it is my child, it is particularly tricky to contend with so many of the claims that are made at times like this -- any line of reasoning is wholly inadequate when dealing with this mountain of grief.

I, like so many other people I know, hoped for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child (honestly, does anyone hope for anything else with a pregnancy?). I didn't want any drama or special attention. I didn't want there to be any need for a "Team Ewan."

But even when I was pregnant with Ewan -- even after we found out about his broken heart, there was a phrase that kept popping into my mind. So many faithful Christians use it, but I don't think I've ever heard it said in response to the loss of a child.



God is good.

Typically, this is what is said when there is a job promotion. When the cancer is gone. When a healthy child is born without any complications. When the sun is shining, when we got the new house, when we are propping our feet up in the eighty-degree sunshine with an iced tea in our hand. When the kids are doing well, when our bank accounts are full, and when the world is kind to us.

If there is one thing I know now for sure, it is that a dead child doesn't allow for a fluffy theology.


The things Ewan taught me will be unfolding for the rest of my life, and this is a big one. If we believe God is good only when we have a reason to smile at what life brings us, then we haven't embraced the gospel fully enough. The Christian faith is one of carrying the cross, of rejoicing in the midst of suffering. It's not a message of prosperity, where the "good news" is that Jesus will give you whatever you want if you pray the right prayer, have enough faith, and assent to a particular list of bullet points. If that's the message, then Jesus was certainly the most miserable failure when it came to living out the message that he preached.

It begs to be said again that yes, we grieve. Yes, I am and will be angry that Ewan is not here. Yes, I get furious that when so many people around us are having perfectly healthy children, we didn't get that. Yes, I cry and kick and scream until I'm so physically exhausted that I cannot cry or kick or scream anymore. I've said before and will say again that having faith in God and having hope that this is not the end does not cancel out the grief and anger we experience. That is simply not realistic.

But it also begs to be said:

My Ewan was diagnosed in utero with a severe heart defect. God is good.

He nearly didn't make it out of open heart surgery at five days old. God is good.

At 16 days old, his kidneys, liver, and intestines were failing and he suffered from a serious blood infection. God is good.

My infant -- my only child -- died in my arms. And yes, even if I say it through gritted teeth at times, God is good.

I don't claim to be able to explain how or why any of this happened -- and it's not as if the fact that it happened makes me happy. Far from it. It is not something anyone can be trite about, and it is not something that can be easily dismissed or explained. I adamantly reject any easy "bumper sticker" types of responses to our grief, our loss, or to why Ewan suffered as greatly as he did. It is not fair. It is not how it is supposed to be. I am the last one you will find claiming otherwise.


But I do know that God is good -- and that even out of horrible things, He makes good things happen. I also know that I don't know everything. I can acknowledge that because of Ewan's story, all sorts of good things may be happening that I will never find out about. And no -- no amount of good things happening because of him is the same as having him here. And even if we should be so fortunate as to have other children who are born healthy, it isn't as though any of those children could replace him. Even now, we feel keenly that our family is missing Ewan.

So whether I say it through a smile, through my tears, or somewhere unintelligible in the cacophony of kicking and crying and screaming, I say to you: God is good.

47 comments:

Sarah said...

Today I believe . . . amen and amen. I love you.

K said...

You are right and brave to say so, especially now. Ewan was not blessed with a perfect heart but he was blessed with a perfectly beautiful and faithful mother.

jana said...

God IS good. And he will shine through your eyes just as he did through Ewan's. The pictures are beautiful and treasures.

Alece said...

oh my sweet friend... your faith, your heart, compels me.

i am so, so sorry for your loss that is so much more painful than i could ever imagine. i wish i could hug your heart tight.

Nikki said...

I am sure God is smiling on you right now for being such a faithful woman!

So many people (myself included) have been angry when terrible things happen and want to know how He could let this happen to us. Many people (again, myself included) have a hard time keeping the faith because it's easy to just walk away from it all.

You've been through the worst imaginable pain ever. No question. Yet, you still have all the grace and Faith that you did before Ewan even got here.

Truly amazing.

Ashley said...

God is Good, no questions and sometimes it is just hard to see the good that God does. But, if we look at the big picture, as bad as it actually is, there was a alot of good as well. Because of Ewan, people have faith, people have learned sooo much, you have grown as a person and a family, even with Ewan being gone, you are still a family in many different ways. Ewan might be gone, but you are still here, your family is still here and there is a reason for that. We may never know the reason for why Ewan was chosen, but we all believe it is because God had other plans for him. God is Good, just keep looking for the good that God does.

Momma Dana said...

You have an amazing faith. I can't tell you how many tears I have shed over you and your son, how many prayers I have brought before God. He is good...and though I cannot explain or even begin to understand why you aren't holding your precious baby in your arms, God is good. And if you can believe it, so I shall, too.

KLaw said...

Your faith moves me. Thinking about you always

Jason and Kara Kelly said...

Your and James' faith is also such a testimony to His goodness. I admire the way you are determined to trust Him and at the same time allow yourself to honestly grieve. Thank you for sharing this delicate balance with us. We continue to pray for you.

Bethany said...

A truly inspiring post!

Anonymous said...

yes God is good and He is good to us. And there will be a time when all tears are wiped away and a land where there is joy forever - and this is not that place. Here we only get glimpses of that time and place and so we walk in the dark by faith, not sight. Kirsten - we witness you walking by faith. Speaking as a Biola prof, I am so very blessed by you. with my continuing prayers for you and yours, Betsy

Nonny Baby said...

Amen, Kirsten.

Nadine said...

You're amazing and I love you! Your faith Kirsten is touching so many lives!! :) I'm so proud to call you friend! GOD is good, even when we cannot understand HIS plan! Thank you for being such a blessing to us all! <3

Sarah said...

This is so true. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. God bless you

Carol said...

Dear Kirsten, God has given you such an incredible gift to be able to express so elegantly the unfathomable depth of God. Thank you for sharing your heart and faith. God is truely glorified by your words. I continue to pray for you and your family. Love you

Lisa said...

oh Kirsten... such powerful words for me to read this morning... I thought of you and James and prayed for you last night, even as I received word from two dear friends that their mother had lost a battle to cancer yesterday afternoon and they had said goodbye for now... their words rung, too, with "even now, God is good." and my heart broke at more people walking the valley of the shadow, and I sat for a while and wept and prayed for all of you...

ashia said...

beautiful post. this reminds me of something... i'm doing the bible study "one in a million" right now, and it's about God's people leaving egypt, and traveling through the wilderness to the promised land. this is your wilderness, and the promised land awaits you. you probably know this, but they didn't take the route to canaan that they thought was best, and fastest (and they thought would be easiest, not knowing about the philistines). God specifically led them through the wilderness, so that they would be able to "see His miracles" and that He would be glorified. same with Ewan... no one would EVER choose this route... for him, and for you, but God wants to be glorified, and YOU WILL BE REWARDED for giving Him the glory. MANY blessings to you. still praying for you daily.

Anna said...

God IS good, ALL the time.

Love you my friend!!

hopeannfaith said...

Kirsten,

Your honest humility and graceful eloquence is astounding.

Every word of what you say is Truth, is biblical and is healing someone(many),as it heals you.

We have no answers that will comfort, we have no words that can erase your deepest sorrows. But we do have time, and ears and virtual shoulders for you to rely on.

God is shining through you love. God is good.
God is right there with you, guiding the next step of faith you take.
God is good.
God only wants you to have the faith for that next step, no more than that - His Word says that He is a lamp unto your feet, a light unto your faith - just enough revelation (understanding, knowledge and wisdom) for that next step - He will be your guide, even to the end.
With God as your guide He is right there by your side - through it all.
God is Good ♥

The Real Life of a Red Head said...

http://fierceandfiesty.blogspot.com/2010/10/goodness.html

Did you read that? I swear....God created us for eachother- for friendship, heartache, and love. (I don't mean for that to sound creepy.) I wrote almost the same exact post 3 days after Joshua died.

I love you Kirsten. Keep kicking, screaming, and trusting. God is good. You and I both know that.

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

My parents have taught me a lot about this lesson in the past few years. My mother had a brain aneurysm and came very close to dying. Then we thought she might not wake up. Then the doctors were sure she'd never walk again. She beat those odds, but she will never be entirely whole again, and she has lost so much of what she had planned/hoped to do/be. And yet they have been steadfast in their belief that God is good, EVEN IF she had never walked, and EVEN IF her constant pain never diminishes. My parents have had a lifetime to learn this, you've had only half as many years. But you're both teaching me the same thing. God is good. God is still God, even in the really, really, really hard things.

(Please don't think that I'm setting your experience and theirs as equal. They're not; they're different; but both of you are reminding me of the same lesson. )

Kristin said...

Such an amazing post. God is good even when life is unfair. Praying for you today and for many many days to come. Thank you for your faith and your transparency.
Kristin

christianne said...

It's strange ... just yesterday I was having these same flashes of thought in my mind: God is good.

I struggle, too, with this notion that seems so prevalent, that God is good because we deem him good, because good things happened to us. If God is good because he allowed our team to win, does that mean he is not good for the team that lost?

Circumstantial goodness is no goodness at all. God is good because it is his essence to be good. He cannot be any other.

I mentioned that this thought flashed in my mind yesterday. It was actually in relation to Ewan. I'll admit, it was a thought that scared me. Who am I to think of my grieving friend and then also think at the same time that God is good? And yet here you are, proclaiming and embracing God's goodness, even though he allows things to happen we don't understand.

I love you.

Kristy said...

Thank you. Your faith is amazing and inspires me.

jen said...

God is Good. I needed to say it too.

Rebecca said...

Thank you for preaching the Good News. When you can say, even in the midst of the most difficult trial, that God is good, it really means something. Bless you, Kirsten, for your humble love of God. It is truly a testimony, both of your heart, and the heart of God.

sarahww said...

I read this aloud to Russ in the car this morning and we both felt a lot of power in not just the statement, but in the repetition of the statement God is good. It's a talisman to be carried throughout the day, a true north that guides, and a verbal reminder of peace.

You are always in our thoughts and prayers, and your writing is moving us beyond ourselves. Thanks, as always, for sharing.

tea said...

Kirsten, you are so right.. What you have gone through is not how it's supposed to be, and I am so sorry for the pain that you are living with. ..And you are right, God is good. It's the one thing we can hold onto in the grief and trials we face.. When everything is beyond understanding, knowing that he is good, is the one thing we can hold onto. I'm thankful for that, and thankful that God has been speaking this to your heart during this most difficult time.
Love to you <3

The Sexton 3 said...

You and Jill both posted similar things this week. Back a few weeks after Luke went to be with Jesus, I made a similar post.

I find it comforting that in the midst of tremendous, earth shattering, soul shaking loss.. God works on our hearts in similiar ways.

Here is a link to my post about God being good... and boy, is He ever.

http://lukesexton.blogspot.com/2010/09/bible-study-was-awesome-last-night.html

Thinking of you each day.

Jamie said...

... all the time.

Julie said...

God is Good, All the Time ... and All the Time, God is Good. Some days these words are easier to say than others. And yet, as you so beautifully put it, regardless of how hard they are to say, we must believe them. Our faith is built on these words. May you know His blessings today for your bold, strong, and awesome words - God is Good. We don't know each other, but your story has touched my heart. Praying for you, James, and the others that grieve for Ewan today. In His Love, Julie

terri said...

maybe this is the real meaning of faith...speaking these words in the kind of places you are navigating. love to you, again and again.

Gina said...

You are amazing. Inspirational. Strong.

HennHouse said...

Amen.

Jennifer Hood said...

Awesome, awesome post. Thank you so much for taking a stand on the goodness of God in ALL situations. How very powerful. Thank you!

Love and prayers,
Jennifer Hood

Katie said...

Thinking so much of you...keeping you close in prayer and in my heart. I've had a tough week and only you and your loss has kept my little trial in perspective. Thank you for keeping us updated on how you're doing. I appreciate your honesty and heartfelt words each post. Tears are always shed for you. Will call you soon. Hang in there...heart hugs.
Love,
Katie

RHONDA said...

I know somewhere in the heavens tonight, a beautiful little boy is looking down and is so proud of his mommy. You are an amazing woman and your Faith gives me such encouragement and such hope. God is good. I am praying for you always.

Heart Hugs,
Rhonda
(Zeb's Mom)
www.lylefamily5.blogspot.com

felmleyfam said...

yes, God is good.
so glad to hear you saying this amidst the grief.
that old hymn "it is well with my soul" is so true. when we believe in Christ, it is well with our soul no matter what is going on in our lives. so great to have the peace that only comes from Christ Jesus. Peace in the Storm.

And, the writer of the song knew the pain you are now experiencing:

This hymn was writ­ten af­ter two ma­jor trau­mas in Spaf­ford’s life. The first was the great Chi­ca­go Fire of Oc­to­ber 1871, which ru­ined him fi­nan­cial­ly (he had been a weal­thy bus­i­ness­man). Short­ly af­ter, while cross­ing the At­lan­tic, all four of Spaf­ford’s daugh­ters died in a col­li­sion with an­o­ther ship. Spaf­ford’s wife Anna sur­vived and sent him the now fa­mous tel­e­gram, “Saved alone.” Sev­er­al weeks lat­er, as Spaf­ford’s own ship passed near the spot where his daugh­ters died, the Ho­ly Spir­it in­spired these words. They speak to the eter­nal hope that all be­liev­ers have, no mat­ter what pain and grief be­fall them on earth.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Refrain

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Refrain

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

Refrain

But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!

Refrain

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Refrain

An Okie's Mama said...

You have amazing faith and your writing is very inspiring. In my day to day life, sometimes the smallest "inconvenience" can make me forget how good God is. But you have been through so much and, yet, still recognize how good He is. You continue to be in my prayers.

di said...

when I'm really honest, I want to scream too, "how can this be happening?" it's not how we imagined it. ending. And then, thank God, we have that deeper truth that is deeper still... this isn't the end of the story. Thank God. God is good.

Anonymous said...

Kirsten, you are an amazing, inspiring woman of God. I have shed so many tears for your sweet baby boy, you, and your family. Life is very unfair at times but God is good and continue to put your hope in Him. Remember that someday you will be able to rejoice in Heaven with your sweet boy and hold him in your arms. Praying for you.

Rachel

felmleyfam said...

i usually have to come back and reread the posts. we are still mourning with you. this is so heartbreaking. we continue to ask other to pray for you in your loss. it's hard to believe that you had to kiss that perfect face goodbye.
in grief,
karen

Caroline's Mommy said...

The Rose Bush

Joylynn Charity Miller

Once, a little rose bush,
With no blooms yet to bear,
Inched itself toward a picket fence,
And quietly rested there.

Then day by day it pulled its stems,
To the flaws in the fence’s wall,
And slowly crept its way…
Until it wasn’t there at all.

On the other side it flourished,
On the other side, grew lush,
But the planter of the seedling,
Missed that beautiful rose bush.

So young and it had vanished,
So small and it was gone,
But on the other side of the fence,
It still, to life, held on!

And as the little babies here,
Have left without a trace,
They rest upon the heavenly shore,
And bloom in all God’s grace!

The Hands said...

Yes, God IS good. It is hard to reconcile our emotions of frustration, anger and sadness with the head knowledge that GOD IS GOOD. (I struggled with this issue over and over.) The steadfast reality of God's unchanging character is crucial to faith in him. Thank you for writing about the reality of what faith in Jesus Christ brings-even through rough times.

I'm continuing to hold your family up in prayer.

deb said...

Amen.

Lindsey said...

What a beautiful picture of faith.

Shannon said...

Dear Kirsten,

I heard about your family from Melissa E. Wanted to let you know you've been on my heart & in my prayers a lot lately.

Ewan is so beautiful.

Thanks so much for taking the time to write all this... as I read it and the more recent posts I cry with you... hating the death and the whole un-right-ness of your loss, but clinging along with you to the knowledge that our Father IS good.... In the midst of the results of a fallen world it is hard to see sometimes, but you are so right. Thank you, bless you, and hugs from a sister you haven't met.