'Losing our newborn son was not going to shake our faith in a loving God'
Shane’s story | It’s one thing to say you have hope in Jesus …
“In 1991, my wife and I were living in Melbourne. We were involved in the church, in leadership and other ministries. I was working as an electrician. Everything was going really well. Then, leading up to that year, we had a number of miscarriages. In early 1991, Fiona was pregnant again and she had several periods of hospitalisation, but the pregnancy seemed to be okay.”
“Her waters broke in May and she needed an emergency caesarean. Our baby was born very small, at 27 weeks. We named him Ben. He was in the NICU and he had tubes coming out of him. He contracted an infection. We had lots of people praying for us. We believed that he could be healed.
“After seven days, the doctors told us that there was nothing more they could do. Ben wasn’t responding to the medications. They said, ‘It’s up to you. It’s your decision. But leaving him on life support isn’t the best thing for him.’
“We said that we had lots of people praying for us. We totally believed that God could still heal him. But we also said that if God chose not to heal him, then that was up to him. So the staff took Ben off life support and they gave him to us. It was the first time that we were able to hold him. It was really precious. I bawled my eyes out. I’d never done that before. I’d always been the strong, capable one. I’m a fairly reserved kind of guy. But I bawled my eyes out … and he died in our arms.
“We had a funeral service the same week. Later, we scattered his ashes over the ocean near Port Campbell.
“It was the first time my personal faith was really challenged. Up until then, everything had been going well for us – marriage, job, church. We had always believed in Jesus. My father was a pastor. I remember asking Jesus into my heart when I was six. But in that time of grief, we were confronted. What did we really believe? Was it our faith, or the faith of our parents?
“It was a moment from the heart. We came together and we decided that we still believed in God. Losing Ben was not going to shake our faith in a loving Father. We knew that God was good and he loved us and he had things under control. He works in mysterious ways. It was a declaration of our hope in Jesus. We knew that we would see Ben again and be reunited. But it’s one thing to say those things … and it’s another thing to live them out. It’s not to say that we didn’t grieve. We really wrestled with God. We told him that we didn’t understand. We asked him all the ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. To wrestle with someone means to get up really close. It’s skin on skin. So we wrestled with God and it was important.
“I guess the verse in 1 Corinthians 2:9 has always been key for me. “‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ – the things God has prepared for those who love him – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.”
“It reminds me that God has greater things for us, in eternity, than we can ever imagine. God’s love for us is wider and deeper that we can ever understand. And that’s what I’ve been holding on to for all these years.
“Ben would have been 30 this year. My eyes are actually welling up, as I talk about him. There’s a sense of loss, but it’s not hopelessness. We have three grown-up daughters and a granddaughter. We have faced other trials … but we know we’ve already gone through the most traumatic thing in losing our child, so it puts other things in perspective. We know that no matter what we face in the future, God will be with us. We know that his love is the anchor.”