“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” -Psalm 30:5
Sometimes when people go through a hard trial, one of the first questions asked is “Why?”, “Why me?”, or “How could a loving God let this happen to me?”. We’ve probably all asked some variation of this question at different times. Sometimes when people ask this question, they are filled with bitterness, anger, doubt, and resentment. Left unchecked, this can turn people away from each other, away from those they love, and away from God. If turned around however, people seek deeper understanding, strengthen their spirituality, draw suffering people together, and ultimately point us firmly back to our loving Heavenly Father. Being angry at God only hurts ourselves and those around us.
We had been happily married for about two and a half years. Steven was just finishing up his Bachelor’s degree in college, and Lindsay was caring for our sweet almost one year old son. His name was Jaren. He was a happy, healthy boy, with lots of personality and charm. Life was great.
But life as we knew it was about to change forever. Jaren initially had a mild fever and was unusually sleepy. We took him to the doctor, who told us it seemed to be a viral infection that would run its course in a few days. We just needed to keep him hydrated. Over the next couple of days, he got worse, and it was a struggle to get any sort of liquid down. We took him to the ER, but he was so dehydrated, they were unable to get a blood sample for testing, and seemed to have nothing they were able to do. Discouraged, we went home. That night was much worse.
At this point, Lindsay was getting frustrated and angry. We had said many prayers for Jaren, and Steven had given him a Priesthood blessing, but Jaren was still in pain, arching his neck, and inconsolable. We couldn’t get him to eat or drink. Lindsay was frustrated with the doctors and their seeming inability to do anything, and also angry that God did not seem to be hearing our prayers.
By morning, we knew something was seriously wrong. The second trip to the ER was very different. After a short series of tests, the doctor told us that our son would need to be transported to Primary Children’s Hospital. Because of the snowy weather, they were unable to life-flight him, so Lindsay and Jaren went in an ambulance with Steven following behind. By the time Jaren arrived at Primary Children’s, he was unresponsive. A large team of doctors went to work trying to figure out what was happening.
After several tests, we learned that Jaren had Bacterial Meningitis, an infection where the spinal fluid becomes infected, and the brain becomes inflamed as the body tries to fight the infection. It is a deadly disease for anyone, but especially for young children. A scan of Jaren’s brain showed that large areas had been irreparably damaged. As the doctors weaned him off of coma inducing drugs, it was also clear that his body was not completely functioning. A machine breathed for him and he was mostly unresponsive to any stimulation.
After a week of being in the hospital, he passed away. Words cannot even begin to describe the emptiness we felt as we watched his spirit leave his tiny body behind. We were beyond heartbroken. It felt unreal. He had so much ahead of him, and it was not sinking in that we would not be able to have his first birthday party, see him take his first steps, and see the fulfillment of all the other hopes and dreams that parents have for their children. Coming back to our empty home was even worse, as we found his clothes throughout the house, and his face and hand prints still on the mirror in the bathroom. What we would have given to hear his little voice or see his little smile. We would have been thrilled even to hear him screaming.
This whole time we had been praying for a miracle. A few weeks later, Lindsay told Steven that the miracle had been that we still had faith. We had chosen to put our trust in our Heavenly Father, that He knew what was best for our family, even if it didn’t immediately make any sense at all. We had not turned our backs on God in anger, or doubt. We drew our strength from the knowledge that because of Jesus Christ’s Atonement, and the sealing power in temples, we would be able to one day hold our son again. To know that he is part of our family, and that this life is not the end, gave us strength through this dark time. It also helped us to draw closer to each other, and to our Heavenly Father.
We never imagined that we would be thankful for this trial, but we are. We know that Jaren continues to influence and bless our family as a guardian angel. He also inspires us to live worthy of the blessings that we have been promised if we stay true to the covenants we have made with God. Jaren has changed who we are and has deepened what it means to have an eternal family. We feel blessed to be his parents. Our four year old daughter knows that he is her brother and she is excited to meet him one day.
It was hard then, and is still hard at times, but without that strength that comes through Christ’s healing Atonement, we would not be where we are today. If we had turned our backs on God, had been filled with anger, and bitterness, we’d only be left with our despair. We would not have the blessings of the gospel in our life. We might not even be together or at least, not as close as we are today. Instead, we hold close to our hearts the things we know to be true. God does love us. Christ’s Atonement is real and powerful. Jaren will be with us again. As painful as the trial is, that day will be even more full of joy.
Story written by: Steven & Lindsay. Read more of their story at Cry of Rejoicing.
This story was seen first on Real Imprints.