The spring of 2011 brought immense heartache to my husband, Ernie, and me as our firstborn child, Haddon Brooks, battled severe illness in the NICU for 40 hours after a six-week premature birth. We held him and sang to him as he passed from this life to his eternal life with Jesus. We had never before experienced anything where we had been so broken, so needy for God and his Word. The experience gave new longings for the new heavens and new earth, where we will forever be with Christ and our son.
Since then there have been days of great joy knowing our son is with Jesus, and days where sorrow is so great that we wage war against hopeless lies from the enemy. The resurrection has become infinitely more precious to our hearts. The plot we picked for our son is temporary, and that is what we remember as we visit it. The words “Jesus lives and so shall I, when he returns with him I’ll rise” are engraved on his headstone.
Psalm 62:5-8 held truths we needed to grasp with all of our might in order to trust God from that point forward:
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times O people; pour your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.
Another Child Was Not Our Fortress
The desire for more children remained after we lost Haddon Brooks. We were faced with the choice of grieving with discontentment or grieving and trusting God with our whole hearts. My suddenly empty womb was a real challenge as we battled for joy each day. We found that while we could see God taking care of us, part of our hearts still felt that maybe real contentment would lie in God changing our circumstances. That time in our life was weighty, and our hearts were so devastated. We were often looking for the time when God would finally bring contentment and not thinking about how he was showing us that we can rest in him and find contentment when life is hardest. We could find contentment as we joyfully thought of our son in heaven, and God was still sustaining that rest in him when we wept bitterly in the night. The Lord was also showing us that, no matter what work he would do in our lives, another child was not our fortress, rock, or salvation.
Then came the fall of 2011, and the Lord in his deep kindness gave us another child. Tears fill my eyes by just thinking of that time. There was a quiet struggle in my heart, though, as I placed my hand on my belly, wondering, Can I trust God through another pregnancy? And I remember hitting about seven months, realizing that my body had basically been pregnant for a year and a half with my two children, and in my weariness and sadness there was still no child in my arms. And what if God were to take this next son of ours? Again, it was a battle to trust God in the midst of a trial, and I looked to the end so I could find rest. But God told me in Psalm 62 to trust in him at all times. Though my body was tired, and even my soul felt weary, I could still trust him. His plans were for my good as I waited through another pregnancy, and he was helping me trust him more.
Now as I hold my three-month old son, little Ernie, I must have faith in the Lord as the one who sustains him each day. Some days I wish it were easy, like God giving me a sign that this child will surely outlive me. But I’m not promised that outcome. I am promised, however, from Psalm 62 that God can be trusted at all times. When I am tempted to fear the unknown about little Ernie, I remember God is my rest and my fortress. He knows all the days of my child’s life from “life’s first cry to final breath.” That is why I can have rest. And because of that rest we are so in love with our son and delighted each day God has granted him to us.