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Choosing Thanksgiving for a Stillborn Child’s Life

Both secular sources and Christians say there’s something powerful about gratitude — something about the act of giving thanks that change us. Scripture says, “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD” (Psalm 116:117). Choosing to give thanks is sometimes more of a sacrifice than at other times.

There is still so much I don’t understand about my recent pregnancy and the “whys” of God allowing certain situations, including our son’s chromosomal abnormality. Isaiah’s whole life was a surprise to my husband Dan and me, and though we never felt the timing was ideal, we knew we would love this child when he or she arrived, just as much as we love our girls. My pregnancy with our oldest, Evelynn, was a surprise too, but as the months went on and we knew we were expecting a healthy little girl, we found it easy to thank God for the unexpected blessing of her life. I felt strongly that God had a special purpose for creating her and the timing of her life and birth.

I admit it was harder to affirm this time when everything seemed like such a disaster. I struggled to find joy in this pregnancy, and after we received our news, I wondered, Why did God give us this surprise, only to give us a baby boy that has Trisomy 18? But I know there’s value in thanking God for Isaiah’s little life, no matter how short it was and how broken his little body was. I want to keep the practice, even if I don’t always feel like it or see the “why” in the moment.

Though our hearts were heavy, on the day Dan and I went to the hospital to begin the induction process, we could still see evidence of God’s hand. Here are some things we thanked Him for that day:

  • We had already previously planned for our girls to spend this particular weekend with their Nana. They were safe and would enjoy time with her, and we didn’t need to worry about childcare.
  • We had a restful night’s sleep, the best both of us had experienced in a long time.
  • Because I had some forewarning with Isaiah not moving, I had time to prepare my heart for the news, and also time to put some things in order for work and our home.
  • The doctor’s office was so accommodating, fitting us in to get an ultrasound.
  • After the ultrasound, our doctor’s office got us scheduled to have a photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep take keepsake pictures after Isaiah’s birth. That meant the world to me.
  • The sunshine that Saturday morning was beautiful. After days of gray, dreary Oregon rain, I loved seeing the sun and the fall colors it brought out on the trees.
  • A few weekends before, our pastor had talked about “adversity friends”, the kind of friends who rally around you in times of difficulty. What a precious gift our friends and family were to us in this time, with their acts of love, words of kindness, and prayers. They have taught us how to love others in their times of adversity.
  • We knew we favored burial for Isaiah over cremation but were discouraged about looking into options for burying him because the cost is so excessive. One of our wonderful pastors helped us find a local funeral home that provides a casket at cost for bereaved families of infants, and a cemetery that donates the plot. It meant so much to us to know we will have a place to go to honor and remember him. (We later had a small service to honor Isaiah’s life, and Dan read this letter to him from us.)

When I was driving to Bible Study the week prior to our baby’s home going, 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.

Angel with Child Figurine

After we received Isaiah’s diagnosis, a sweet friend gave me the gift pictured here. She wrote [to] 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 Secrets“, about 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.

Stephanie Anderson
Stephanie Anderson
Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist for Eternal Perspective Ministries, where she has the privilege of working with author Randy Alcorn. She’s a wife and the mom of two beautiful daughters, and loves Jesus, reading, photography, gardening, and almost any kind of chocolate.

Pennsylvania Parents Drown After Getting Caught in Rip Current While Vacationing with Their Six Children

A Pennsylvania couple's family vacation in Hutchinson Island, Florida, turned into a heartbreaking tragedy when the parents drowned after being caught in a rip current.

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It's an epidemic that's influencing an entire generation of children.

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American swimmer Lilly King celebrated not just one, but two monumental achievements poolside Thursday night. After qualifying for the 2024 Summer Olympics, King was surprised with a romantic proposal from her boyfriend, James Wells.