So it’s Father’s Day. I’ve always liked the idea of Father’s Day. An entire day dedicated to fathers, no matter what their shortcomings, mistakes, triumphs and achievements may be, we honor them. And I don’t know anything about your experience with your father, but whether you want to or not, you will think of him today.
Father’s day this time around, is different for me. This Sunday, my wife should have been 33 weeks pregnant with my little girl, Celine Gabrielle, our first child. Instead, this Sunday marks exactly 7 weeks since she was born – still born. Today I remember her more than most days and I also remember that I was almost a father. No, I fight to believe that I was a father. I am a father.
I am grateful, still. Never in my life have I experienced so much pain, yet at the same time felt so much hope for the future. My heart has never been this tender. Truly God is turning my heart of stone into one of flesh. And in this posture of brokenness and desperation, deep in the pit, God is there, being a True Father, and it’s changing me. It’s changing how I see Him, as my Father, which is then defining how I see myself — born again as His adopted son. How we see Him as our Father affects how we see ourselves and how we live our lives.
Pain of the Father
The pain of losing my baby is inescapable and incomprehensible. It’s a tidal wave that can’t be contained in a few weeks of tears. I keep thinking, “It shouldn’t be this way. A father should never have to watch his child die, it’s just not designed this way.” I then realize that this is exactly what our Father goes through. In the Garden, when Adam and Eve chose themselves, when the Israelites disobeyed, when the prodigal son claimed his inheritance and left, when we choose our careers over Him, when we choose comfort over obedience, and when we turn our backs on Him. Our Father watches us take that road to death over and over again. And it hurts.
“But your iniquities have separated you from your God;” — Isaiah 59:2
The pain of losing a child is the pain our Father shares when we turn away from Him. This realization humbles me so much. It gives me a greater understanding of what sin is, what it does, and why the Father hates it. It compels me choose Him, and to tell others about my Heavenly Father.
Our delivery story was madness. We were in the hospital for more than two days, though we already knew we had lost our daughter. I felt I was trapped in a nightmare, which went on and on and seemed to keep escalating. The storm then climaxed at the moment Chrina delivered Celine’s body, and I finally saw her. The most beautiful baby I had ever seen.
At that moment all was silent, and everything seemed to slow down. It’s like the violent winds and roaring waves instantly became still. All I could feel at that moment was love for her. In this moment I forgot the pain. I forgot the death. All I could see was my baby girl, and in a strange yet amazing way, God allowed me to feel joy. Though it was brief, God used me to bring life into this world. I am her father and she is my daughter. As great as the pain was, my love for Celine was greater.
From that moment in the operating theatre when I looked at her for the first time, and even until now, what I see is only her beauty. I choose to look at her beauty and it’s really not very hard. Yes there was blood, yes there was discoloration, and yes there was (and is) pain, yet my eyes as a father looks first at her beauty. I was then reminded of this verse:
“But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” — Romans 5:8
In our ugly state, in all the death, dirt and filth, God looks at us and sees the beauty in us. He alone knows our value, and it’s much more than we can comprehend. He not only sees our beauty, He fought for it, and He died for it.
The Love of the Father
“What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?” — Psalm 8:4
It’s hard to explain how much I love my baby girl. She lived only 6 months in Chrina’s womb, and not a second out in the world, yet I love her. She didn’t have to get high grades, she didn’t have to write me love letters or drawings, she didn’t have to be talented or successful, because she never got the chance to. I just love her for who she is. She’s my daughter.
I am learning that I too, can’t possibly earn the Father’s love. He is a Good Father. It’s His nature. It’s who He is — Love. His love for us is not dependent on how talented, how hardworking, or how good we are. He loves us because of who we are, and we are his adopted sons and daughters. Understanding this basic truth can change everything, because all that we do is an expression of who we are. If we don’t know our value in Him, we will live our lives looking for validation. This truth can set us free from living our entire lives pursuing significance. Instead, we are free to live a life the flows out of our significance in Him.
I certainly do not know why He allowed all this to happen. I may find some answers in five years or maybe 50. Or I may not find it at all in this lifetime. Through this experience, though, I have been given another precious gift, and that gift is a greater revelation of the Father’s love, and my identity as His precious child.
He’s a Father that longs for his children, He sees their beauty, and He loves them simply for who they are.