Monday Memo — Thanksgiving Over the Loss of a Child?

A dear woman, who I don’t know and have never met, Stephanie Anderson, recently lost her little boy, Isaiah, in utero. In a beautiful blog (Choosing thanksgiving for Isaiah’s life) she writes, “Both secular sources and Christians say that there’s something powerful about gratitude –  something about the act of giving thanks that changes us. Scripture says, “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD” (Psalm 116:117). Sometimes choosing to give thanks is more of a sacrifice than other times.” What she wrote next blessed me to my core:

When I was driving to Bible Study last Tuesday, I found myself praying two things: that Isaiah would know that he is loved, and that the Lord would take him peacefully into His arms. I had no idea God would answer those prayers so quickly.

dsc_8361Earlier this week, a sweet friend gave me the gift pictured here. She wrote me later, “You are sharing Isaiah with the angels. Looks like they get to be the ones to teach him how to walk.”

When I opened her gift, it reminded me of a story I read years ago in one of Dr. Walt Larimore’s memoirs, Bryson City Secretsabout the miscarriage he and his wife experienced. (You can listen to Dr. Larimore share his story here, and I highly recommend it.)

After his child’s death, Dr. Larimore was devastated. In his words, “I cursed my Father. I fumed, I wrestled. And He was quiet. He said nothing.” Dr. Larimore sat down in his quiet time chair, and began to search God’s word. He doesn’t remember what He read, but he walked away with the sense that “God is good, that He is right, that He is righteous, that His love for us knows no bounds. And in all that He does and allows, whether good or bad, if we love Him and are called according to His purpose, He works it for our good.”

Dr. Larimore continues, “I felt arms come around me, and I had the sense that I was sitting in a lap, that I was being comforted by someone who loved me and understood pain.”

Sometime later, Dr. Larimore took care of a little boy who was diagnosed with bone cancer. Little Danny was a child of great faith, who loved Jesus and His word. His cancer progressed, and eventually he was on hospice, close to death. During his last visit to Danny, Dr. Larimore took his hand and prayed that Danny’s passing would be peaceful. That’s when Danny opened his eyes and said, “It will be, don’t worry – I know I won’t be here much longer, but Dr. Walt, I know where I’m going.”

“Where?” Dr. Larimore asked.

“I am going to Heaven,” Danny replied.

“How do you know?”

Danny was quiet for a moment before replying. “Because Azar told me so.”

“Who is Azar?” Dr. Larimore asked.

“You don’t know Azar? He is my guardian angel, and he comes here and sits with me and we talk about Heaven.”

“What does he look like?”

“He’s big and he’s strong, and he has golden hair, and he carries a big sword. Azar is my angel and my family’s angel. It is Azar who says He will take me to Heaven.”

Danny continued, “You haven’t met him? Are you sure?”

“Not that I remember,” Dr. Larimore said.

“That’s very interesting.”

“Why is that very interesting?”

“Well, because he says he’s your guardian angel too, and your wife’s and Kate’s [Dr. Larimore’s first daughter],” Danny explained.

“Azar was with you the night that you lost your baby, and it was Azar who took your baby to Heaven. It was Azar who held your wife as she wept.”

Dr. Larimore writes in his book what else Danny said:

“Azar told me about it. He said that one day you were very sad, Dr. Larimore. Azar told me that he was with you. And he said that after you had wrestled with him all afternoon, you finally crawled up in his lap, and he held you close while you cried. He told me he cried with you. …Azar took your baby to Heaven, and then he came back and was with you that day. He comforted you.”

…I could not remember telling anyone the story of my afternoon after the loss of our unborn child – not even Barb.

I remember being touched the first time I read this story, and it has new meaning now. I love that Scripture tells of us of God’s tender care for His smallest people:

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

How we look forward to meeting our son. Heaven is sweeter with him there. Thank you, Lord, for Isaiah’s life.

– Stephanie

Thank you, Stephanie, for blessing me in the midst of your unimaginable grief.

4 thoughts on “Monday Memo — Thanksgiving Over the Loss of a Child?

  • Stephanie Anderson

    Dr. Larimore, Dan and I are honored that you would share a piece of our story on your blog. I feel I “know” you just a bit through reading your books, which I so enjoyed. God bless you and Barb in your ministry. Thank you for your faithfulness to Him!

  • Stephanie,

    Barb and I wept reading your sweet reflection. It brought so many happy and painful memories from our loss of four babies before their birth.

    But God IS good and He has blessed us. The words of St. James are more true to us than ever before: Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

    And, we understand St. Paul’s words in new ways: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

    And, we believe with all of our beings that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
    Amen.

    If you guys are ever in Colorado, let us know. We’d love to meet you.

    Walt

  • Mary Ruth McNatt

    These are precious words and feelings, expressed so tenderly and beautifully. Thank you, Dr. Walt and Stephanie, for preparing our hearts and fixing our minds on the blessings of gratitude in everything.
    It is an honor to pray for both of you this morning and all the times God brings you to my mind.

  • Mary Ruth,

    You kind words and prayers are both a precious gift. I hope you and yours have a Christ-centered, warm-memory-creating, family-filled Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

    Dr. Walt

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