He Will Hold Me Fast

I was woken up by a huge ‘gasp’ from my wife, Taylor. “Eric, my water just broke!”

I looked over at the clock. 1:10 am.

“You need to go and wake up my parents,” she says.

We should be happy about this moment. We should be rejoicing about meeting our son. But all I feel is dread. I run upstairs to her parents and knock on their door. I hear stirring. “Taylor’s water broke,” I say loud enough so they can hear me, but quiet enough not to wake my son in the next room.

I go back down the stairs, into the room, and enter the bathroom. Taylor is standing, crying. “Today is Wyatt’s birthday,” she cries. I can see the pain on her face. Another feeling of dread washes over me.

We quickly pack up our stuff, get in a car, and make the twenty minute drive to the hospital.

What would follow would be the hardest moments we have ever experienced in our marriage, in our parenting, and in our entire lives. We arrived at the hospital around 2 am. The nurse used an ultrasound to locate a heartbeat. Still there. We were moved to another room where routine tests were done to ensure Taylor’s water had actually broke. There was no doubt. By 5am we were moved into yet another room, where we would remain for the next nineteen hours. In that room we would discover our son’s heart had stopped beating. Twelve hours later, Taylor gave birth to our stillborn son, Finley Samuel.

People have asked me throughout these past couple of months one repeated question: “How are you doing?” And while my answers to people have consisted of a number of responses such as, “We’re sad” or “We doing as well as we can.” I’ve spared most people from the answer I’ve wanted to say. Since finding out Finley had Trisomy 18 back in early June, I have been living out my worst nightmare.

Trisomy 18 is a chromosomal abnormality (1 in 5000) which leads to three copies of chromosome 18 instead of the normal, two. In many cases Trisomy 18 babies are lost in the second or third trimester or are stillborn as was the cases with Finley. Only about ten percent make it past their first birthday.

Knowing these statistics, Taylor and I lived with the dreaded prospect of never being able to hold our son. We spent twenty plus weeks grasping what it might look like to never hear him ‘coo,’ never to watch him roll over, craw, or take his first steps. Never to celebrate his first birthday, first day of school, or his first practice. All things that we have experienced with our eldest. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. As Christians, we had hoped for better. We had hoped God was going to heal. But he chose not to.

My greatest nightmare had become my reality. Taylor and I were in a situation in which we could do nothing. Doctor visit after doctor visit we discovered that Finley’s body showed more signs of Trisomy 18 and further signs that his little body would not tolerate a life outside the womb. My wife, my son, and my family were grieving a life that had not even left us yet. And yet, in spite of the nightmare I was now living daily, something was happening that I had not expected.

The last time I’ve felt this much heartbreak was November of 2019 due to a miscarriage. Even thinking about it now conjures feelings of loneliness. But there is another event in my family that has haunted me just as much. I wrote about it back in 2018 in my post When Head and Heart Don’t Match. At that point in my life, I was a new dad. My son wasn’t growing. We had been given a child, but my wife and I worried that he wouldn’t make it. My first inclination was to blame God for His failure to provide. I thought He was simply heartless and didn’t care what happened. I thought I was receiving a punishment I didn’t deserve. I had lived faithfully, desiring to serve Him in ministry, so why wasn’t He doing what I wanted Him to do?

I certainly thought the above response might be repeated in this very hard season we were experiencing. I thought worse might happen. I thought my faith would be torn in two. I thought there was no way my faith could last. My faith certainly wasn’t strong enough to ‘make it’ through another lost child.

But I was wrong. Or at least I was partially wrong.

I was right about my own ability to keep faith through an event as tragic as losing a child. I would have crumbled if it were based on my own ability, my own faith to hold fast to Christ. What I was wrong about was Christ’s willingness to hold on to me. I’m reminded of the words Jesus prays to the Father in John 17:10-12,

All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost”

The Lord has done exactly for me what He has done for All His people. He has kept me in His Name. He is the Good Shepherd who does not lose any of His sheep but goes after they when they attempt to flee. It is not because I am deserving. It is not because He knows I can handle the lot that has been given to me. It is simply because I am His and He is faithful to keep His promises. He is faithful to hold on to me even when I have doubted and been unfaithful. He holds on to me in spite of the bitterness I harbored in my heart in the past. He holds on to me because it is His pleasure to do so. And I trust that He will continue to hold on to me because He is faithful and changes not. Through heartbreak and sorrow, He will draw near to my brokenheartedness because He is good and merciful (Ps. 34:18).

I may never know the reasons why God has allowed our son to have Trisomy 18. It may provide opportunities to minister to others who have suffered the same pain, but it may not. It may be that God has used this experience to draw me nearer to Him. None of this is for me to know. But in spite of all the unknowns, I know one thing for sure: Christ will hold me fast. This hardship has put new meaning to one of my favorite hymns, Christ will Hold Me Fast. The lyrics read:

When I fear my faith will fail
Christ will hold me fast
When the tempter would prevail
He will hold me fast
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path
For my love is often cold
He must hold me fast.

He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast

Those He saves are His delight
Christ will hold me fast
Precious in His holy sight
He will hold me fast
He’ll not let my soul be lost
His promises shall last
Bought by Him at such a cost
He will hold me fast

He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast

For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast

For my life He bled and died
Christ will hold me fast
Justice has been satisfied
He will hold me fast

Raised with Him to endless life
He will hold me fast
‘Till our faith is turned to sight
When He comes at last!

He will hold me fast,
He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast.

The day after Finley’s birth, we were discharged from the hospital. I remember vividly the last moments holding Finley’s body. Taylor and I cried. We said our goodbyes. We watched as the nurse wheeled away his body. More crying. We would never hold him again on this side of eternity. But even as I type these words, I’m reminded that Finley is the same hands as I am. He is being held fast by the Lord. And there is no better place to be.

Creation

This sermon titled, “Creation,” is from our series The Story. Scripture for this sermon are from Genesis 1 and 2. If you want to know more about True Life Students or True Life Community Church you can follow us on instagram or Facebook by searching HaveTrueLife or you can find us at our website at Havetruelife.com.

Isn’t Christianity Against Diversity?

The sermon, “Isn’t Christianity Against Diversity?” is from the series, “Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) about Christianity.” Biblical texts used were Genesis 1:26-27; 12:1-3; Matthew 28:18-20; Colossians 3:11 and Revelations 7:9-12. If you are interested in more about True Life Students or True Life Community Church, please visit our website at havetruelife.com.

How Can I Live My Best Life Now?

This sermon, “How Can I Live My Best Life Now?” is the first in our series, “Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) about Christianity.” Selected texts are from John 10:10 and Psalm 1:1-3. If you want more information about True Life Community Church or True Life Students, you can visit our website at havetruelife.com.

Taste and See

Stand-Alone sermon “Taste and See” is preached from Psalm 34:1-8, 18. If you are interested in learning more about True Life Students, please visit havetruelife.com or follow us on Facebook by searching HaveTrueLife.