Today is our first son’s birthday. We would love to be planning a birthday party, maybe with a baseball or a truck theme. I would love to have stayed up late last night putting together some ridiculously complicated toy. But instead, today we are planning to go out to dinner in order to celebrate his short life, and last night we stayed up late talking about how we miss him.
Paul Hudson Rogers was stillborn 3 years ago. He was 8 lbs 15 ounces and very cute. He appeared perfect in every way, except that his heart had stopped, inexplicably, the day before his due date. We held him for a short time and then said goodbye. We named him Paul after the Apostle Paul. We named him Hudson after the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor. We prayed almost daily that God would use him to impact the world for His glory, and that God would use Paul Hudson to take the gospel to the nations. His impact on the world seems to have been much less than we had hoped for. But his impact on Stephanie and I has been immense. I never had the privilege of teaching Paul anything, but here are a few of the things that my son has taught me:
There are a multitude of reasons to praise God which I too often take for granted.
For all of our efforts to control our circumstances, the truth is that we have no control over the most important things in life.
A newborn baby’s cry is the most beautiful sound in the world.
The goodness and faithfulness of God is not just something I believe in because things have always gone right for me. Because of Paul, God’s goodness and faithfulness is more real to me now than it ever was before. He provided and sustained us through dark times with a steady and gracious hand.
I have the most wonderful wife God could have given me.
It is always a good idea to visit someone at the hospital. They do appreciate it, even if I don’t know what to say.
Funerals are important, and I should always go if I can.
I should never complain about the difficulties of parenting. Being a dad is a great privilege and joy. It is never an annoyance, or a time-waster, or an obstacle to other goals.
God’s giving His Son to be crucified for me is unfathomable.
I should pick up the phone or write a note or take a mourning person out to lunch and ask them how they are doing.
Every life is amazing and beautiful and precious, no matter how short or broken.
My daughter throwing up on me is a great gift, not something to grumble about.
Children really are a gift from God.
God can give us true and abiding hope in the midst of unconscionable pain. Hope is not a political slogan or the result of wishful thinking. Hope is based on the great, and sure, and unchanging promises of God. This hope that God's word gives us is truly an anchor for the soul.
Sometimes all we have is hope.
The only fully happy ending will come at the resurrection.
We miss you Paul! See you soon.