As I sat down and thought about what I would write, I realized that I will probably lose some of you in my next few sentences but please, hang in there with me. Whether you are person of faith or one of fate and destiny….you are here, reading this, for a reason. I, not like many of you I’m sure, have had more than my share of “bad” things happen. I grew up going to church, believing in God and even made the decision to be baptized in my early teens. I didn’t have the understanding then to seek God during those times of trail, and instead, I blamed Him for my circumstances. People often believe that if you are a Christian, bad things aren’t supposed to happen to you but the Bible warns us in John 16:33 “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world.” Those things, as bad as they were, shaped the person I am today and made me capable of not giving up during my most difficult trials. Little did I know then, I hadn't experienced anything yet!
I can’t think of too many things worse than losing a loved one, that’s hard to make it through, but to lose a child to such a devastating disease as Sandhoff’s, feels unbearable. Three years after losing Kaleb, people still tell me they admire my strength and tell me they don’t think they could make it through something like that. I don’t have that strength either on my own, I get through this loss with the love of my family and the renewed faith I have found in my God. (Right now some of you are thinking I’m preaching, maybe a little – but stick with me.)
Kaleb’s life had a purpose, and his message was delivered in exactly four years and eight days. It’s our job as his parents, to carry out that message. I know people wonder how I can still have faith in God after going through what I have and what we have as a family, all I can tell you is this - His word reminds us in so many different places of His love for us, of His desire for us to follow Him, to trust in Him – to put our faith in Him, and we will have the wishes of our heart, in His timing:
Jeremiah 29:11 “for I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”
Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”
2 Corinthians 12:9 "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness"
and one of my personal favorites,
Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
These are the things that give me hope; these are the promises that give me strength. I guess it would be easy to give up, and I certainly think people would understand in our circumstance that the pain is so incredible, it can be hard to bear – but even through all of the bad things, we have been given so many great things and that’s what we have to remember.
Next week, Dave and I (mostly Dave) will be sharing Kaleb’s story. One of Dave's gifts includes being able to stand in front of a group of people and tell our story - mine is sitting at this keyboard! But, we will get the opportunity to talk about him and to share with people, even though we lost one of our precious children, we are “stronger because of it”, his life made us better and stronger people!
I am often reminded of what a friend told me - Kaleb is not in my past, he is in my future, and that is a promise I can hold on to. So for all of you parents out there reading this who have lost a precious child, or to any of you who are going through a loss or hurt remember this:
Romans 61:1-3 “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me …to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
May you all have love and feel His peace this Christmas!