Here is a story that will reach your heart. Jennie Bender and her family walked through the fires of trial. She is wife to Shane and mother of Sabrina, Elaine, Darcy, and Davison. They are a wonderful Christian family living now in Fairborn, Ohio. The other day when I wrote a blog post called “What If Your Healing Doesn’t Come”, Jennie privately wrote my wife and I on her experiences with praying for a healing that didn’t come. In her case, it wasn’t for herself, but for her child. That is just as appropriate to the subject as any parent would realize. What she wrote was so touching, powerful, and real, I asked if I could share it as a guest blog post. Be sure to read the extra information she gave at the end. It is an honor to give her piece here. It is little edited so nothing of her heart is lost. Here it is in her words…
I just read your piece on healing. It was a blessing. I believe He can, but I have peace that He didn’t. God gives grace, mercy, and peace to go through trials. I could not do without any of those three at any given time. I have learned more, gained more, so much more. If I could go back– I’d probably selfishly choose to take away trisomy 18 (explained below) and have my daughter alive– without sleepless nights and burning tears, without knowledge of impending death, without… But I’d not know this great grace, I’d not have a strong realization of Heaven, I’d not have a measure of faith, I’d not have the blessings of brokenhearted strangers who reached out and gave me friendship through our mutual suffering, and I’d not have lifelong friendships given to me on her behalf by God’s hand…
I had so many say that God would take away this problem and it’d just go away– because He is God. Death was surely not coming to my house– according to them. They meant well; it was what we all wanted.
The Lord showed me that wasn’t the way I was going– though I wanted it badly, more than anyone passing by could fathom. I remember my own prayer– “Lord, I know you are praying for me because I don’t know what to pray.” I even went so far as to pray for her death so she could be truly safe– and hastily recanted it as soon as I spoke it– because I couldn’t believe I spoke it aloud. Only a mother dealing with a fatal disorder could understand that prayer and its depth. I wanted her more than I could bear, but my love for her wanted the fullest, happiest life for her– and with her diagnosis the best place was not with me but with God.. There was a guilt after I prayed that prayer because of my absolute humanity, but my heart later knew that prayer was because of my love for her — her grave struggles and future caused me to desire to give her to God– though it broke my heart in pieces. And I am sure someone will say that’s wrong, but the Lord knows how desperately we wanted her– with or without her so-called deformities. She was perfect to us and still is, no one dare question our love for her. Even if they did, there is no point to prove to them. We stand before God Almighty; He knew and knows our hearts. We only wanted her best– and that is love– and the greatest love is someone else’s best over your own selfish desires.
This is a real issue, as you say. There are so many remarks you receive… some are not helpful. I am so thankful for the people who came into my life– people who were broken hearted, mended, and ministering because they had seen God. They all spoke the same words, just like a painter’s hand is recognized in every painting, you could see His hand and hear His voice through their unique stories. Others did not have that, only the broken ones. They had seen God work –they were compelled to comfort as He had personally comforted them and as they had been blessed by His people through their own sorrow.
I am changed because of those days. They are painful at times to recall, but the changes God made have only made our lives better. Every move He makes is for our good, and I trust the loving kindness of the Lord.
And as for your family and mine, our situations are not the same and not to be compared, but the Lord has made us better friends because of our trials.
(Editor’s Note: There is a hard-to-explain camaraderie in suffering.)
Trisomy 18 is a generation of an extra chromosome. It can be shattered, misplaced, or a duplicate chromosome. The simplest explanation is– it is like an extra puzzle piece. It fits, it is perfect, it is useful, fully functioning, alive. The only problem is–it is extra, therefore it destroys the whole. It can be genetic, it can be due to the age of a mother, but most of the time, as in our case, it is simply an accident at the onset of the division and multiplication of cells. Every time the bundle of life multiplies and divides it creates more problems. Since it is in the actual cells, there is nothing to do but wait. We were told she would die before her due date, she would have great struggles and die eleven days after her birth on average, and if she survived beyond those early days–she would surely be dead within a year.
Elaine had an extra finger, water on the brain, strawberry shaped skull, a twisted foot, and three holes in her heart– nearly every marker of T18. Our marriage was given a 1% survival rate because of the stress before and after her delivery. God has been good, we’ve not been prefect, but He has led us gently all the way. We have an unexplainable daily joy and gratitude that was given to us because we put our child and our broken hearts in God’s hands. “We are better for knowing her–even if it was just for a moment.”
She is the reason we say and know, “Together” is a beautiful word.
If you know anyone going through such times, please let us know –firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, Now I lay Me Down to Sleep is a non-profit organization consisting of professional photographers who photograph families whose children have been given a fatal diagnosis. They were a great blessing to us. Lori Anderson of Simply Southern Photography took pictures of Elaine through NILMDTS.org.
What If My Healing Doesn’t Come? The original post Jennie responded to.
Confessions of a Disability Marriage Jennie mentioned God’s grace in her marriage getting through what wrecks many marriages. It is tough and I have written on my own case.