You can hear the full testimony on Sermon Audio here: (audio | transcript and a followup sermon, "God's Glory in Saint's Afflictions" here: (audio | transcript).
Our gracious God and the glorious gospel of Christ turned the worst day into the most beautiful day. We cannot begin in this space to testify of all the grace the Lord has poured out on us since the death of our newborn daughter on June 15th. But here is an attempt.
We didn’t know if the baby was a boy or girl. It was a surprise. At 6:15 AM when the baby finally came, we saw immediately there were severe deformities and she couldn’t survive very long. While I called 911, the midwives did everything they could for the baby, trying to keep her heartbeat going. I just felt like flying apart but God started giving great grace and peace. The peace and comfort of His presence was so real. Hymns of the faith began to come to my mind and I was able to start singing to Lydia. One of them was Choctaw Hymn #112, a song of the glorious hope of Heaven, written by afflicted Choctaw believers during the Trail of Tears, in the midst of death and suffering as they looked in hope for a heavenly land. The same God who gave them hope gave us hope that day.
I knew God was giving me grace and peace, but I was concerned for Lydia, as I knew it would affect her more deeply. As they admitted her to the ER, Lydia told me, “I don’t know why the Lord has allowed this, but maybe God will make us a witness to the emergency workers.” The fact that she was concerned for others let me know that God was giving her grace too.
Our daughter passed away 37 minutes after her birth. The hospital staff asked me for a name for the baby, but I was so numb I couldn’t think of a name. The only thing that kept coming to my heart and mind was “the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing” of our Lord Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).
That’s the only hope we had, that our daughter is not here in this little frail body, but her soul is now departed to be with the Lord. She is in Heaven, supremely happy and healthy, enjoying the glory of God in Christ, and worshipping the Lamb of God, in perfect beauty, with no deformities.
So we named her Gloria Hope, because of the glorious hope of the resurrection that God gave us on that day. Though in much sorrow, we named her in great hope. Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19) There is another world coming. This is not the end. That brings such a sweetness and it takes the sting of death away. We can’t wait to go and join her around the throne, and take her by the hand and fall down before the Lamb of God and worship Him that reigneth forever and ever, He who washed us from our sins in His own blood.
Romans 8:28 helped us so much, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God…” That includes the best of things and the worst of things. We rest in our God who is perfectly sovereign and good and wise, who turns even the worst things for the good of His elect. We cannot fully understand, but we know His way is best—best for His glory, for our good, and for our daughter’s good.
Our dear friends at Spring Hill, a Choctaw church in Honobia, OK, gave us a cemetery plot for our daughter alongside their infants.The day after the tragedy, I read again a phrase that has been dear to my heart—one of the Five Solas of the Reformation, Soli Deo Gloria. It means “Glory to God alone.” Now every time I see that phrase, I’ll see our daughter’s name “Gloria” in it.
Dear afflicted saint, keep looking unto Jesus. These afflictions will all be for His glory and our good.