As I knelt in prayer at church this past Sunday, I pondered Brigid’s death, as I have done every second of each day since it happened.
Specifically, I thought about God as our Father and the giver of every good and perfect gift, who tells us that if we as parents know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will he give good gifts to us if we ask him.
And I wondered: What about this? How is this a good gift?
I’ve told our boys that just because Brigid died, it does not mean that God didn’t hear our daily prayers for her to grow big and strong and come home to live with us. “Sometimes,” I told them, “God tells us no just like sometimes Mommy tells you no when you ask for things.” They accepted that explanation…but I wasn’t so sure I did.
We all tell our children no when there are things that they want that are not good for them, but as a mother, I tried to imagine the circumstances under which I could possibly tell my children no for something that would break their hearts as much as Brigid’s death has broken ours. Why would I tell them no for something that would make them happy? What would have been the harm in allowing us to bring our healthy daughter home to live with our family? Especially after we’d already lost her sister.
I racked my brain for an example.
It came.It involved chocolate. And I realized that it all has to do with perspective.
I imagined myself baking in my kitchen. I love to make special things for my family, and I imagined I was making an extra special dessert treat for the birthday party of one of my boys. Only he didn’t know I was doing it for him.
He comes into the kitchen where I am standing and asks if he can have a few of the chocolate chips that are on the counter. Because I need to use them for the dessert, I tell him no.
Being the young child he is, he is devastated. “Please, please, please?” he pleads.“Trust me,” I say. “No.”
He falls to the floor crying and kicking and screaming. But I do not change my answer. Instead, I lovingly pick him up, give him a hug, and tell him to go and let me work. He doesn’t know it, but within a short time, I’ll have used the chocolate chips to create something extra special for his party, and I know that he will love it. This is why I can be a loving parent and yet be unmoved by his pleas.
And then I thought about this example in terms of my perspective on our situation.
To a young child, my denying him the treat that he wanted was devastating. But as his mother, I knew I had a plan for it that was far better. I knew his tears would be short-lived, but that he’d appreciate the final product much more than the chips by themselves.
To him, the few hours until the party seemed like an eternity. But to me, it was just a brief wait that was worthwhile for the celebration that was to come.
The small chocolate chips would have been a treat for him and they would have made him happy, but the special dessert would serve many more people and benefit him as well as others.
I have to think that our Father, with his infinite knowledge, sees our situation in much the same way that I, as a mother, see things in relation to our boys.
Our wait to see Brigid and Fiona again is nothing more to him than a little boy’s wait for his birthday celebration. But oh, the celebrating will be so much greater. The pain of being denied our request feels profound and deep; our tears will flow for months instead of minutes. But to our Father, this is but a short-lived trial. Our girls would have enriched and blessed our family had we been able to bring them home to live with us, but incorporated into his plan, they have been used to affect so many others.
Many of you might never have known about our twin girls were this not the plan. And I’m pretty certain that none of us will ever be the same again. We prayed and we rejoiced and we prayed and we cried. Our prayers brought us to our knees in the middle of the night. They drew us in close to the God who was in control of this situation from the very start. They came from Australia and China and Hungary and Canada and Scotland. They came from people who were prayer warriors and from people who had never prayed before. They brought glory to God because they made us acknowledge the frailty and wonder of life and realize that there is a power greater than us at work.
To know that our girls may have been used as part of God’s plan for someone else is humbling. Our faith has not been shaken by their death. Rather, it has been toned and stretched and strengthened. We have been brought to the end of ourselves and found that He still gave us the strength to go on. Our prayers for Fiona and for Brigid were really for our benefit too. The act of praying for them tested us and helped us to grow stronger. And though God chose to answer our prayers with “no,” our prayers were not in vain.
Thank you. I needed to read this
I still need to come over here and read it once in a while, marypat. ❤ Love to you!
Thank you so much for this. My oldest and only daughter was 11 when she passed away four years ago and I have been searching for the way to describe this. I believe that He doesn’t always answer our prayers and I didn’t know where to go beyond that but this is it… In His eyes it is a short time before we are all together again and that thought is not scary to me at all.
I just lost two children and I have always believed they were sent to me in love. Still, I ask why, even though I know it is part of a bigger plan. Reading this was so helpful and I just love it. Thank you with all my heart.
Thanks for sharing that here, pos and Nicole. I am so sorry for your losses. I really felt like this was a balm for my broken heart. It helped me to understand. The pain is still there, but I can accept it more easily. (Sometimes.) xx
This is beautiful Eileen!
Thank you for writing this, it is profound and beautiful! 4 months ago my best friend lost her 5 year old. Just before that, I lost our baby in miscarriage at 3 months. We have been walking this road of grief together, and things like this really mean a lot to us.
This is one of the best faith blogs on child loss I have every read. So beautiful. Your word picture/object lesson is so powerful! I am so incredibly sorry for the loss of your daughters, but you’re right: God’s glory now comes through in their story and all of the people who felt compelled to talk to God on their behalf–some who perhaps hadn’t before. Blessings from Boston, Fellow Blogger, Bonnie (also on Christian Teaching and Testimonies with the Franklins) Sending much love to your healing hearts…..
Thank you for your thoughts, Bonnie. I honestly feel like God shared this lesson with me to bring healing to my shattered heart. ❤
This is a moving article. Thanks for sharing it. After a very complicated pregnancy, our daughter was stillborn. Her death came from a completely different and unrelated problem. Very hard to understand, but this article reveals a different aspect of God’s plan for his children. Thanks again.
I’m so sorry, Lisa. Brigid’s death was from a complication that was separate from all that we went through in her (very difficult) pregnancy as well. It is just so hard to understand, and I’m so sorry that your sweet daughter is not here with you. xx
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Thank you for sharing your beautiful perspective.
As you know, we lost our 16 year old daughter 6 months ago. My faith has been strengthened, and I am stronger than I was, but it doesn’t lessen the pain, and there isn’t a day that goes by I don’t wish she was still here with us.
As I frequently remind my husband, we’ll never know “why” this side of heaven…. but it surely will be a magnificent embrace when we finally see her again!!
God bless you today and always.
Sending my love.
I wish you never knew that pain, sweet Lori. The why is the hardest part. We know in part right now, but one day we will know in full and understand. I can’t wait for that day. Until then, we trust that he is good.
Love to you. ❤