Friday, March 23, 2012

Chai, Simon, and the Death of Death

God has painfully revealed his love and grace to me in many ways through the death of my son, Chai.

Its been more than 20 months since he died, and I’m still learning more from my son.

After Chai died on July 12th, 2010, Keva and I immediately wanted to be pregnant again. That desire was partly out of our wish to get past the pain that we were experiencing and partly out of our trust in God as the author of life. The latter was good. The former, not so much.

In the months following Chai’s death, getting pregnant for a second time was feeling almost as impossible as it did during our first 11 years of marriage.

Once again, we grew more frustrated than we did patient, and began to settle into the idea that our family would remain as it was. Then God surprised us again.

When your wife walks into the bathroom with a pregnancy test and then, minutes later, lets out a scream, you don’t have to be a detective to connect the dots.

There was a lot of excitement in that moment. It kind of felt like what I suppose it might feel like to win the lottery: Elation followed by the question “What are we going to do with this?”

But in that moment, fear mingled with our delight. Anxiousness combined with our hope.

I tried to remain calm. Keva came to mind first. What would happen if this baby dies? Would that crush her? Would it be too painful to bear?

Then I thought about my kids. Micah and Isaac have experienced exactly one pregnancy up close. It ended in the death of their baby brother. What if we went 0 for 2? And this one would be different. After all, surely they will pray specifically for this baby NOT to die. Surely they will ask God to keep this one alive. I had written answers down to essay questions on tests in seminary like “Why does God allow evil and suffering in the world?” but could I explain to my sons why their siblings keep dying even though we keep asking God to keep them alive?

I was afraid. Happy….but afraid.

Now to the present.

Chai was born 26 weeks and 6 days into pregnancy.

Today, Keva is 26 weeks and 6 days pregnant.

After Chai’s birth, the doctor told us if Keva got pregnant again, she probably wouldn’t carry past 21 weeks.

Today, our doctor told us she expects Keva to carry beyond 34 weeks…maybe full term.

What is amazing about this prognosis is not simply THAT God has done this, but the WAY he has done this.

He has brought life from death. Let me explain.

Through Chai’s death, we learned something about Keva’s body. In short, that her cervix could not support the weight of a child without help. So, Keva had a surgery in December to help her cervix support the weight of this new little life.

We never would have known that, if Chai hadn’t gone before his little brother to show us.

Without Chai’s death, Simon’s life would not be possible. Someone had to be the forerunner. Someone had to die so that another could live.

Sound familiar? It’s the gospel pattern. Its something we all know is deeply painful, but is deeply beautiful. Sacrifice.

Life from death.

Hope from despair.

Joy from pain.

This is what Christ accomplished for me…and all those who trust Him. He died so that I could have life. But the resurrection means that death is dead. It no longer holds sway over those who are in Christ.

What does that mean for the Atwoods? It means one day Simon will embrace his big brother and say “Thank you!”

…and Micah, Isaac, Chai, and Simon will spend eternity worshipping the God who defeated death and made life possible.

...and so will their parents.