Something very sad happened this week to someone I love. Ashley Escue is one of my best friends from our husbands’ medical school days in Memphis. We encouraged each other while our husbands were working 100-hour weeks and studying for board exams. We cried together on Match Day and beamed with pride at graduation. She loved me even through the years when she had kids and I didn’t, and I thought I understood, but I didn’t. At all. She hauled her third son to Indiana after the birth of my first son and comforted me when I was so exhausted that I couldn’t do anything but cry. Ashley is the daughter of Dennis and Barbara Rainey (founders of Family Life), so she always has fabulous book recommendations and advice.
Ashley has a sister, Rebecca Mutz, whom I have heard so much about from Ashley. Because I am friends with Rebecca on Facebook, I knew that she was expecting her first child. I saw the announcement of her baby girl’s birth on Facebook, and then two days later became concerned when her Facebook status asked for prayer for her daughter. Molly was unexpectedly born with life-threatening medical conditions, and God took her Home on Thursday, just a week after she was born. I won’t share all the details of Molly’s life here, but another blogger posted email updates along the way from Dennis Rainey here and here . All I will say here is that Rebecca and her husband Jacob had a baby dedication service with family in the hospital. God asked them to unreservedly commit their child to Him in the fullest sense, and they obeyed. They are truly courageous parents who cling to their Savior and entrusted their daughter to Him.
Mighty Molly Mutz (as her Papa referred to her) has had a deep impact on me this week, and one that I know is lasting. I am unable to put the entire experience into words, but here are a few things I have learned from Molly:
1. Molly made me long for Heaven. If God would have allowed Rebecca and Jacob to take her home with them, she would have been raised by joyful, godly parents. She would have been spoiled by adoring grandparents and enjoyed Christmases overflowing with cousins. Molly would have been taught about God and His Word, and she surely would have impacted many people with the Gospel. (Although she has influenced many in her short time on earth!) But for an unfathomable reason, Heaven is a better place for Molly than the wonderful home she would have enjoyed here. And so that reminds me that Heaven must truly be some place I want to be.
2. Molly taught me to be thankful. My heart aches for Rebecca’s and Jacob’s empty arms. God has allowed me to have two sons at home with me, and (I’m embarrassed to admit) there are days that go by when I don’t acknowledge that every day He gives me with them is a precious gift. When there are sleepless nights and whining-filled days, it is tempting to view motherhood as an inconvenience. This week, I have been a little more grateful, a little more patient, and a more loving mom to my boys.
3. Molly taught me to pray. I have prayed more this week than I have in a long time. I pulled Ashley’s family photo off the fridge, and my sons prayed for her boys who would soon lose a cousin. I know others who have lost children, most of them prior to my knowing them. Molly has reminded me to add them to my list of people to pray for regularly.
4. Molly taught me to trust. When something like this happens to someone I know, I agonize, weep and pray for them. And, because I am a selfish being, then my thoughts turn to myself. What if this happened to me? How would I survive? I begin to feel anxious and fearful. This week I was reading a chapter from Linda Dillow’s “Calm My Anxious Heart,” and the chapter was titled “Trusting God with the What Ifs.” I was reminded of God’s character–His sovereignty, His faithfulness and His love for me–and encouraged to trust Him with all of my what ifs. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is in the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:7)
To Rebecca and Jacob and all the Rainey and Mutz families . . . my prayers are with you during this excruciatingly difficult time. Thank you for opening your lives to us and allowing us to share in your struggles, grief and hope, allowing God to teach us through you.
One of my favorite hymns, especially in times of difficulty, is “It Is Well With My Soul.” It was written by Horatio Spafford as he sailed in the Atlantic Ocean, where his four daughters had recently died. It seems fitting to share the words here. The first verse tells us that he has peace even in his grief, and the following verses tell us why.
When peace like a river attendeth my way, When clouds like a sea billow roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
Tho’ Satan should buffet, tho’ trials should come, Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin- O, the bliss of this glorious thought -my sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll,
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, “Even so”- it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul, It is well, it is well with my soul.