The God who gives and takes away

Erin and I got in the car this morning with mixed emotions. At least that was the case for me. I was nervous, anxious and a little scared. As I turned the key to start the car, the radio turned on and I found myself listening to a familiar song…one of my favorites, actually. As the singer sang “Blessed Be Your Name,” he was into the second verse, which I know by heart. “Blessed be Your name, when the road is marked with suffering, though there’s pain in the offering, blessed by Your name.” It was in that moment that I knew God was speaking to me. Somehow, though I couldn’t be 100% sure, I seemed to know that Erin and I were about to hear some really tough news.

A week ago, Erin began to experience some things that caused us to worry about her pregnancy. After speaking with her doctor, she advised us to come in and let her have a look. We felt many of those same unneasy feelings on that day as we did this morning, to say the least. After looking at the ultrasound, the doctor explained that there were some things there that caused her some concern, but she was ‘cautiously optimistic.’ She shared with us that a real possiblity existed that a miscarraige could occur within the next week. However, there was also a chance that some other information could have been incorrect, which would result in the pregnancy being fine, and just a little behind schedule. So, we scheduled an apointment for a week later to reassess the situation. Needless to say, this has been a tough week, mentally.

So, here we were, headed back to Chapel Hill to see what had transpired during the week. As I listened to the rest of the song, my mixed emotions seemed to somehow turn to a silent confidence. God was reminding me that He is in control. He had not left me, nor would He ever. Whatever the news, Erin and I would be OK. I looked into the mirror and into the beautiful eyes of Emma and was reminded in that moment just how much God had given. Even if these gifts upon which I began to dwell were not a reality, He had already given so much through the grace that He poured out on me through the sacrifice of His only Son.

We soon found out, though, that on this day, the God who gives and takes away had done the latter. Upon looking at the ultrasound, evidence of a heartbeat and other vital signs were not found. That was a tough moment. Now, I know several people who have faced this experience, but for the first time I could truly be empathetic. As I found myself in that moment, the words of the song were still ringing in my head. I have sung that song a thousand times, yet I have never been challanged by the message of it like I was today. The challange was simple: would my actions live up to the truth of that song, or had I only been singing words?

I had now experienced, more than ever, God’s giving and God’s taking away. The question was whether I would now, despite my circumstances, still choose to say, “Blessed be Your Name!” The truth is, since God had given us this week to prepare for this possibility of tough news, I had already made up my mind. As I prayed with Erin in that clinical room, we thanked Him for His goodness. We thanked Him that we could trust Him. It is so good that, now matter what the situation, we can trust Him.

I have just been teaching the students in the past couple of weeks (as we have been working through the Old Testament together) about the significance of God being called the the “God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob”. This served as a reminder that God is a God of faithfulness. Each time it was uttered, it reminded those who were hearing it of the faithfulness with which God had opperated as He continued to fulfill his covenant promise through His people. My reality was simply confirming what I had been preaching over the last days: it is good to know that He is faithful, especially in times of confusion and hurt. So, we thanked Him that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that we can be assured of His faithfulness. You see, our blessing and praise of God can never be contingent on our circumstances. He is ALWAYS worthy of those things, and so much more. We must worship Him because of who He is, not where we are at.

As this day comes to a close, two questions have kept my attention. (1) How in the world can someone go through something like this without a relationship with the one, true God? and (2) How could anyone willingly and voluntarily choose to terminate a pregnancy for the purpose of convenience? One thing that I continued to pray as Erin and I petitioned God this past week was, “God, we want to have this child and raise it. We desire to know this child and see it grow up.” I simply do not understand how someone could make the conscience desision to kill their unborn child. It truly is the greatest sadness to see the horribly detrimental effects that sin has had on God’s wonderful creation.

So, it was a very tough morning. But, Erin and I are doing fine this evening. We have a peace that passes understanding, and a confidence in the future that God has for our family. We thank you for your continued prayers. It is a wonderful gift of encouragement that God has given His children through the Body, and we are thankful.

I Married my bride, Erin, in 2003. We have 3 children: Emma, Elijah, and Lydia. I have served full-time on staff at Westwood Baptist Church, in Roxboro, NC, since summer of 2006 as Pastor of Students & Discipleship. I am currently enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, pursuing my Doctorate of Education.

3 thoughts on “The God who gives and takes away

  1. Jason and Erin,I am so very sorry to hear this news. Joy and I are acutely aware of your pain. We had two miscarriages, and the first was exactly like yours — the thrill of seeing the heartbeat, then two weeks later the devastation of seeing none. I wish I had known “Blessed be the name” when we went through our troubles. When it comes to mind outside of church, it’s always the suffering verse I hear. It really is a comfort.May God comfort you, Erin, and Emma as you grieve.— Richard

  2. “There is a place of comfort sweet,Near to the heart of God;A place where we our Savior meet,Near to the heart of God.Oh Jesus, blest Redeemer,Sent from the heart of God,Hold us, who wait before Thee,Near to the heart of God. ” (by McAfee )How your sentiments resonate with the reality of your relationship with our Savior! Jason, you have expressed such important truths: That we so deeply need Him, and how can others face such pain without Him? And how could anyone want to take away their little one’s life? And even though you could have asked both of these questions two weeks ago, now you ask them with such conviction. This is the place where He has drawn you, near to His heart, to know with such intensity the things He already knows so well. Life hurts so badly sometimes, and we are so terribly sorry for your pain, and yet to see Him use it to draw you close to His heart brings bittersweet joy. We love all three of you and are praying for you as the Shepherd leads you gently through this valley.

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