“The Lord Gives, The Lord Takes Away. Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.”

Recently I’ve been both greatly challenged and profoundly encouraged by the story of Jesse and Shanee, friends of a friend who serve as missionaries in Nepal. Through a forwarded email, I learned of their serious need for prayer regarding their then-unborn daughter, Priya. In for a checkup, Jesse and Shanee learned that Priya suffered from a rare condition called fetal hydrops. Told that their daughter had a 20-30% chance to survive, they prepared to fly to Bangkok for further medical care. As they did so, however, they passed on the following thoughts:

At this point, we know that it’s in God’s hands and whatever good comes will be from His direct involvement. He is good, and his will is sufficient for us. Whether things are good or bad, we want to proclaim that his grace is sufficient and that He is worthy of our praise.

Unable to make it to Bangkok, they flew to New Dehli, the next best medical option. While receiving some encouraging news, Priya’s situation remained serious. At that time, Jesse and Shanee offered this:

We know our daughter is in the Lord’s hands. We trust Him. He is and has been so gracious to us. Priya has been an undeserved gift to us from the very beginning. It is in His hands whether she leaves us or not. Either way we will praise Him, because He is worthy of it. His steadfast love is good and never-ending.

While Priya’s condition certainly remained precarious up to that point, I was still jolted by the news contained in the next forwarded email I received:

Priya Jean Snodgrass was born by C-section at about 4:30 on the evening of Dec. 31st. After struggling through the night she went to be with the Lord around 6 am on New Year’s morning. She weighed about 5.5 pounds (1 pound of which was fluid), and she was unable to overcome the fluid that had built up in her chest and abdomen. She struggled throughout the night as her blood pressure kept dropping and the doctors tried everything to overcome it. Shanee and I were able to hold her and say goodbye to her with our mothers there by our side.

Though I don’t know Jesse and Shanee personally, the news hit me in a particularly strong way—probably because I’m a new parent myself, and I reflexively thought of what it would be like if Rachel and I were to lose our own son. Though I’m sure I can’t even begin to imagine the numbing pain and grief one must feel in losing a child, the bare possibility was enough to engender within me a palpable ache.

I was therefore more than a bit surprised to find the following paragraph as I read further into Jesse’s email:

This has been, without a doubt, the most difficult thing we’ve ever been though. We are pleased that our daughter is through with the troubles of this world and in the arms of her Lord. And we praise Him. We praise Him. Job said it best in the wake of losing all he valued on earth: “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” That conveys our feelings better than anything we could say. The Lord gave us Priya, and He has chosen by His gracious will to take her away. Blessed be his Name. Her life was an undeserved gift to us. We wouldn’t trade one moment of the seven months we had with her. And we praise God for it from beginning to end. We don’t know the reason why she was taken, but we know the God who made the decision. And he is enough for us. He is our glory and strength. We want to praise Him right now as the God of all grace and comfort. He has been our truest and most constant companion in the midst of all this.

Perhaps the better part of wisdom would be to let those words speak for themselves, but I’ll hazard two brief thoughts. First, I’m grateful for such a powerful example of someone living out a biblically tempered faith in the midst of such crushing sorrow. It is another, particularly vivid instance of God preserving his people with his comforting and satisfying grace. Secondly, I’m driven to pray that God would work in all us such persevering faith in his character and promises.

If you would, please pray for Jesse and Shanee as they deal with the difficult days ahead. And pray that the Lord would hasten the day when “the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory’” (1 Cor. 15:54).

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