Finding Hope in Despair

By Steve Nelson

"'We haven t been able to revive her; you need to pray,' was the first medical report I heard after about ten minutes of anxious waiting."

I had felt a sense of dread for several hours already that night, and this announcement only made it more acute. Maybe that is common—I don't know—but I had an overwhelming feeling that I was going to lose either my wife or my baby girl.

I'm sure my fears would have seemed unfounded just minutes before. It had started as a routine delivery, but when the baby's heart rate suddenly dropped, we were rushed to the operating room. The last words my wife heard were, "Knife up, stat!" and she drifted into unconsciousness. I watched through the glass door as Kathleen was split open on the operating table before me. Our baby, Brea, was pulled out, and taken just out of my sight into a corner of the room. After several minutes, when I realized that they were still treating her, I thought, Everything must be okay. She must still be alive! Only when I was asked to pray for my baby did I realize that they were working on her in a desperate panic, and not as part of normal routine.

Another ten minutes passed before my fears were confirmed. Brea had passed away just before being delivered. I held her in my arms, but I knew she wasn't there.

When Kathleen came to, I had to tell her that Brea had died. It ripped my heart out. Nine months of hope, love, plans, prayers, and dreams died all at once. We cried all night long. In the morning I went home and told our other three children. More tears. More pain.

Kathleen and I dealt with a flood of emotions over the next several months. It was hard to imagine how God could allow such a thing to happen. We had previously been devastated by the loss of three children due to miscarriage, and quite frankly, we thought God knew that we had been through enough.

Over time, we realized that God had never promised to keep us from pain. We had an expectation on God that was unrealistic. We wanted this world to be exactly what the next is supposed to be. You see, heaven is described as being a place where God will wipe every tear

from our eyes, and where there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain.(1) In our minds, we had a picture of exactly how the world should be. However, what should be, and what was weren't lining up. Our hope was simply misplaced. We hoped this world would be like heaven, and it's not!

If we had truly lost forever a child we had never met, we would have been devastated beyond belief. Instead, we were greatly comforted in knowing that our precious Brea was not dead, but living in heaven.

We were never robbed of her, but still have an eternity to spend with her. You see, our only true hope is in eternity. Paul wrote in the Bible, "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men."(2) Hope in this life is futile. But because of our hope in eternal life we have been able to go on, knowing that the things that are painfully absent from this life are the same things that make heaven all the more meaningful.

God's desire is that you, and every single person would spend eternity in heaven with Him.(3) Because that s what He wants, He has left us clear directions on how to get there. In fact, you can confidently know that you have eternal life.(4) The Bible says that you can never be good enough to get to heaven,(5) but that Christ died on the cross to pay for all the wrongs you ve ever done.(6) That's the great thing about eternal life. It's dependent on what God did for you, not on what you can try to do for Him. Jesus said, "Everyone who believes in [Me] may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in [Me] shall not perish but have eternal life."(7) By believing in Christ, and by trusting in what He did for you, you too can have eternal life, and share in a hope that runs far deeper than any struggle you ll ever face.

How to Go to Heaven

[1] Revelation 21:4 | [2] 1 Corinthians 15:15 | [3] 1 Timothy 2:3-4 |
[4] 1 John 5:13 | [5] Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5 | [6] 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 5:8 | [7] John 3:16-17