Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
That day is forever impressed on my memory. My wife and I drove to the doctor’s office brimming with the joy of expecting our second child. I remember the stillness in the air that day. I remember the chill in the doctor’s words—so casual, so clinical—“I’m sorry, but there is no heartbeat.”
How could this happen? What loving God would allow my child to die? We drifted to the car tearful and painfully confused. My almost 2-year-old son was fearful. His pillars of strength, Mommy and Daddy, could not control their tears. I can’t imagine what he must have felt.
The next few days were some of the most surreal I have ever experienced. A fog enveloped us. My wife had to come to grips with the fact that inside her womb was the lifeless form of the child we had already named Caleb. As the father and supposed rock of the family, I had to carry out all of the practical tasks, despite my tears and the total anguish I felt. I had to call everyone who was eagerly expecting this child with us and tell them they would never meet Caleb.
My wife had to go through the horrific process of delivering our stillborn child. It happened at home while I was out getting something at the store. I put the key in the front door, turned it and was bombarded by the agonized cries of my beloved partner. I hate to admit this, but I don’t think it was until that moment that I realized Caleb was already a child. Under our tiny apartment bathroom’s harsh lighting, I could see that even after only a few months of development, Caleb was my son. His eyes and fingers were formed. He looked like a very small beautiful child. That vision still hurts. It is the vision of the boy whoI never got to play cars with, the boy who would never giggle and never look up at me and say, “Daddy, I wuv you.”
My journey is one toward acceptance and elusive peace. Elijah, our firstborn son, was, and still is, a constant reminder of a God who blesses. But I have been unable to find total acceptance that my God took Caleb home before he breathed his first breath. Acceptance stays just out of reach, and I am shrouded in fear of the next pregnancy. Can I go through this again?
I have a small Post-It-Note on the dashboard of my car that reads, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” That little faded yellow piece of paper implores me to see that Jesus’ peace is unwavering; His nail-pierced hands hold me when I feel near the breaking point. God knows what it’s like to lose a son.
God is a God of peace. This doesn’t mean fear or anguish are not part of a Christian’s journey. In fact, Jesus was the picture of total anguish that night in the Garden. He fell with His face to the ground because He knew grief.
I know grief. I feel closer to Christ with the knowledge that He felt the pain and fear I feel. I feel closer to Jesus knowing He doesn’t rebuke me for my lack of faith, but kneels down and places His worn, dirt-caked hands on my back and just lets me cry. I seek acceptance. I long to come to the point where I can stand and see that God did what was best, even though it is a mystery to me. In the meantime, I have a loving Savior who is holding me and gently whispering in my ear, “My peace I leave with you, Jon … My peace I give you.”
Father, thank you for your peace in the midst of difficult situations. You provide a steadiness in my life.