Five years ago, as many of you know, we went through the heartbreaking loss of our infant son. It wasn’t just that, though. It was a very difficult pregnancy that required my wife to undergo eight invasive procedures that each time threatened the life of our unborn. It wasn’t just that, either… there is whole other story there that would raise eyebrows.
As we look back, we’re often in disbelief as to how well we were held by God at the time—throughout… the tears, the constant uncertainty, the irreconcilable emotions, the stress, the exhaustion; yet also the prayers of hundreds if not thousands of people, and our own faith.
Like, how did we get through that time? We can only say it was our faith and others’ prayers. How else can we attribute it? We know that God promises to be with us in our darkest valleys, but really, is this what it feels like when God actually does it?
The witness of God’s Presence especially in our darkest valley was and still is irrefutable.
But then this morning, when we were doing some Spring cleaning, having found some heart shaped cards, I gave them to our six-year-old son to draw on. What he did with them surprised us both.
Later we found out that he’d taken them to his bedroom and had then taken down one of the three Bible verse coloured-in cards we have blue-tacked to the toilet wall. He had copied the words of Hebrews 13:5, “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you’,” onto the two heart-shaped cards, and placed his mother’s card right where you see it, depicted per the picture above.
This particular verse is very special to both my wife and me. I’ve written about how it is constructed in the Greek, and how much weight there is in the verse with five ‘no’ words in it, three normal negations, and two strong negations—the negations are the ‘no’ words. In effect, the proper rendering of the verse is more like, “Never, EVER will I ever leave you, never under any circumstances, EVER, will I forsake you,’ says the Lord.” This verse in the Greek has nine words; five mean ‘no’ and two of them mean, ‘definitely not!’ When we read this verse, we really must imagine God reassuring us that we have nothing but the full presence of the Lord, all ways, at all times, especially in our darkest valley experience (see especially Psalm 23).
Now, see where this card is placed in the photograph; against the photograph on my wife’s bedside table of us with both our sons.
My wife said to me, “Look at where he put it.” She interpreted it as our son being probably unaware of the significance of him placing his card against the picture like that. It’s a sign from God—“I was present with you!”
God knew. Even after five years, it brings us enormous comfort to know that God was there with us, in our clear and present danger. And that’s why we got through.
As it turned out, that Footprints in the Sand poem, where we see only one set of footprints, is true. We think those footprints are ours, that we’re completely alone; no, those footprints were those of God who carried us through the whole ordeal. We were literally carried by our faith and others’ prayers, and God was present, just as we were reminded today.