How does one stand when he or she does not understand? My precious
wife, Sheri Reneé, and I lost our two babies. We pray that our
story will remind people of the value of human life and will reassure
those who walk through dark, desperate places that God can be trusted
with their most heart-wrenching sorrows.
Six weeks of agony
On January 24, 1991, at 9:36 p.m., Jennifer Reneé Davis entered
this world by way of emergency cesarean section. At 25 weeks gestation,
she was 14 weeks early, weighing 2 pounds, 3 ounces and measuring 14
During the following six weeks, she fought and struggled valiantly
to survive. The four neonatologists did not give us much hope. They
continued to tell us the blunt and often frightening facts throughout
our babys stay in the intensive care nursery. Yet, her will to
live surprised them more than once when it appeared certain that the
end was near.
Within the first two days, the gravity of Jennifer Reneés
situation became apparent. More critical than her weight was her early
gestational age. She experienced lung failure, kidney failure, a bleed
in the brain, and two bowel resectioning surgeries. One crisis led to
the next one. There were 106 X-rays, innumerable ultrasounds, transfusions,
medications and blood tests.
In severe cases such as ours, a child cannot be held because of all
the medical equipment attached to her. Only when no hope remains is
such a child removed from the monitors and given to parents to hold.
One of the most heartrending moments of our lives occurred on March
5, 1991, at 7 p.m. when Jennifer was first placed in Sheris arms.
We all cried without shame. Sheri cuddled Jennifer for 12 hours during
the next 17 hours. Her mother and I shared the other five hours while
Sheris father stayed with each of us. At 12:18 p.m., on March
6, Jennifer died in Sheri's arms. Our comfort then and now is knowing
that Jennifer was instantly welcomed by the outstretched arms of her
loving Heavenly Father.
A true Valentines story
Valentines Day will never be the same in our lives. On February
14, 1998, our James Paul William Davis at only 2 pounds, 13 ounces
and 16 inches long came into the world two months early. He was
due on May 5, just as his sister had been. He lived only 12 hours and
55 minutes and died in Sheris arms, just a few feet from where
Jennifer Reneé had died 7 years earlier.
With our son, Sheri was able to experience natural childbirth, but,
from the point of his birth, nothing was normal. She did not have the
joy of holding a newborn, since his lungs were stiff and he was soon
rushed to the intensive care nursery. We began reliving a nightmare
that we knew all too well. A beautiful, tiny baby boy with lots of black
hair and delicate, darling features was filled with catheters and jet
ventilator tubing, among other wires that were familiar to us. James
Pauls heart rate soon dropped. He was placed in Sheris arms,
wires and all, and she loved and held him until he died, while her parents
and my father and I stood near.
This time we had the choice of driving our son to the funeral home
ourselves. It was a heart-wrenching 25-minute drive. Upon arriving at
the funeral home, we informed the director that we would dress our baby
for burial. Tiny ones are often not embalmed. We picked the same type
of small casket as we had for our daughter. We were led into a room
and there proceeded to undress our little boy and put the tiny blue
and white gown on him that unnamed grandmothers make for those babies
who die in the Intensive Care Nursery. Sheri wrapped our baby in a blue
and white blanket she had purchased in anticipation of his birth just
two weeks before. She then placed James Paul in his casket. Our children
are buried side by side. Two heart-shaped tombstones, designed by Sheri,
bear their names and the dates of their births and deaths.
Six lessons of love
It is true that we live life forward and learn life backward. When the
Lord teaches us something in the light, we must not doubt it in the
dark. A faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted.
Six vital principles carried Sheri and me through our loss. Those six
lessons of Gods love will carry you through whatever you face.
First, we are governed by Gods providence. The word "providence"
simply means to see ahead of time. God sees ahead of time for our lives.
He never learns anything new. The Holy Trinity never meets in an emergency
session and says, "This tragedy caught us by surprise. We did not
see it coming." Even though the tragedy does not make sense to
us, it always makes sense to God. God knows what is best for our lives.
What we may consider to be "bad" for us God may consider to
be "good" for us. We have come to realize that there are some
things in life that we may want but do not need; and some things that
we may need but do not want. Only God knows what is truly best for us.
Second, we are growing by Gods plan. We grow spiritually
more in sickness than in health; more in tragedy than tranquility. Gods
primary goal in our lives is not to make us happy or healthy, but to
make us holy. It has been said, "We do not live our lives by explanations,
but by the promises of God." Gods Word is still faithful
and reliable even though we may not understand what is going on in our
lives or why God has allowed a difficulty to come our way. Faith is
like film: It is better developed in the dark. Mother Teresa said shortly
before her death: "You will never know that Jesus is all you need
until all you have is Jesus."
Third, we are graced by Gods prayers. Even though we cannot
see God, He can always see us. He never takes His eyes off us. Did you
know that you are on the prayer list of Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ is
praying for each of us. Sheri and I do not fully have answers for the
deaths of our daughter and son. We have to daily commit our lives to
Gods will and wisdom. We must always remember that where reason
cannot wade, faith must swim.
Fourth, we are gladdened by Gods presence. Have you ever
wondered why God takes so long sometimes to answer your prayers? Have
you ever wondered if God was going to come through for you? For Christians,
waiting time is not wasted time. While we are waiting on the Lord, we
must not forget all the times He has answered our prayers. Forgetfulness
leads to fearfulness and fearfulness leads to faithlessness. Fear will
make you sick and will shorten your life. Fear will take the blue out
of your sky and the joy out of your heart. If the icy fingers of fear
have gripped your life, then ask the Lord to melt them away by His Holy
Fifth, we are guarded by Gods person. When Jesus came
walking on the water, He announced, "It is I; be not afraid."
Someone has said, "The will of God will never take you where the
grace of God cannot keep you." Whatever is over your head is still
under the Lords feet. Are the waves of life crashing over you?
Have you been panic-stricken, filled with fear, wondering whether you
will make it through your terrifying storm? If so, please take heart;
the waves that are over your head are still under the Lords feet.
Sixth, we are guided by Gods purpose. What is Gods
purpose for our lives? It takes us from one side to the other side.
Gods purpose was fulfilled as He carried our children from this
side of life to the other side called heaven. Even though God has not
promised us smooth sailing, He did promise us a safe landing. God will
make sure that we make it through the storm and land safely on the other
side. In the near future, time, distance and gravity will simultaneously
collapse and we will be standing on the peaceful shores of heaven.