18 years ago today...

18 years ago today, we held a baby in our arms. Our baby. Garett Robert Pichura was stillborn 7 weeks shy of his due date. Trisomy 18 was the medical cause, but even in that, we knew that all things are ordained and purposed by the Lord.

"The Lord is righteous in all His ways and gracious in all His acts." Psalm 145:17

Maybe, for some reading, this truth grates against your nerves. It makes you question how we could cling to a God like that; how we could love Him with all of our hearts? A God who ordains suffering is not a God you are interested in knowing.

Jen Wilkin answers a thought like this with the following quote:

"The truth of God's limitless power would be absolutely terrifying were it not paired with the truth of His limitless goodness." 

And His limitless goodness is most beautifully seen in the death of His own Son, Jesus. Unimaginable suffering produced an incomprehensibly glorious salvation for those who would believe.

"Though a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. After He was perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him..." Hebrews 5:8-9

Garett's death did not result in the salvation of anyone (that we know of), but it did result in much suffering within our own hearts and lives. That suffering, by God's grace, resulted in greater obedience in our lives. The Greek word for obedience in Hebrews 5:8 means compliance or submission; an attentive hearkening; and that is truly what God did in our own young lives as we suffered. He showed us that He was enough. He taught us to trust His wise perfect plan and submit ourselves to it. He created an attentiveness in our own spirits that sought to know Him, cling to Him and depend on Him more deeply than we ever had before. He caused us to hope...not in what we could see but in what we could not see; to walk by faith and not by sight. He awakened in our hearts a greater love for what is eternal and a longing to be with Him forever.

We suffered to learn the endurance that God gives. We suffered to learn that God's grace is sufficient in all things, at all times. We suffered to learn, in part, the sufferings of Christ and to be conformed to His likeness through them. We suffered to learn that hope, true hope, never disappoints.

"And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:3-5

18 years ago today we said goodbye to our firstborn son and we said hello to a suffering like we had never known before. Yet, with that suffering, came showers of abundant grace and unending mercy through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord, we'll never have to say good-bye to that!

"A man's steps are established by the Lord, and He takes pleasure in his way. Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, because the Lord holds his hand. I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging bread. He is always generous, always lending, and his children are a blessing." Psalm 37:23-26