“I’m going to be a grandmother!” my friend Shelley announced at a “just-us-gals” gathering in my living room. Delight skittered over her face as she shared the happy news from her recently married daughter.
“Boy or girl?” someone asked after we finished whooping.
“We don’t know yet,” she said. “Bethany’s having an ultrasound today.”
No one expected the devastating news that followed. The ultrasound revealed that Shelley’s precious grandson had anencephaly, an early defect in the neural tube which forms the spinal cord and brain.
Anencephaly afflicts about one in a thousand babies. Those who survive to term have missing or malformed brains or spinal cords. Most die during the trauma of birth. A few live only a whisper of time—moments, days; rarely weeks.
Despite strong counsel to end their son’s life through abortion, Bethany and her husband, Sam, made an astounding decision. God, they believed, had allowed them to conceive their child for a reason. They would love that baby for as long or as short as he lived.
Imagine that, if you can bend your head around it. Imagine cradling close to your heart a living death. Imagine anticipating new life and fresh death at the same time. Imagine scraping your way through a nine-month tunnel of days, forced in your heart to travel simultaneously in opposing directions. And imagine being very young yourself at the same time.
One morning, months and many prayers later, I opened an email from Shelley. “Our grandson” read the subject line. She’d sent photos of an infant with an exquisite face, cradled in the loving arms of his parents. Through tears, I read Bethany’s quoted words:
“Yesterday a miracle happened,” she wrote. “Four weeks ahead of time, at 2:27 I delivered a beautiful little boy named Archer Justus.
“40 minutes later another miracle happened, when he was taken home to heaven, perfected and introduced to an eternal life that will never know pain, only joy.
“We had a beautiful time with our son and are so proud to be his parents. No other baby could be so perfect or so loved by his Mommy and Daddy. We are thankful that God loved our little boy so much that he would give him a life on earth where he was so loved, and an eternity in heaven where he will be forever joyful.
“God is good, his timing perfect and his plan for our lives is glorious.”
When I asked Bethany and Sam if I could tell their story, they agreed with graciousness, and added this:
“Since Archer was born and left us four months ago, we have not once regretted the choice we made to love our little boy and treasure every moment possible with him. Furthermore, we had prayed that he would be healed and restored fully to us, but it’s clear now that his transformation and deliverance into eternal life was a far better miracle indeed.”
Sometimes, that’s what faith looks like.
For another glimpse of remarkable faith, watch the moving six-minute story of little Copeland Farley, and her parents Connor and Boothe, as they battled with a diagnosis of Trisomy 18, a fatal genetic disorder. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ESC9zEOcgU