I don’t think it was a coincidence that the name my husband and I had picked out for a girl (we were letting the gender be a surprise) was “Grace”. There is much meaning packed in such a little word, and much that applies to the situation that played out.
In the Bible, the term grace generally refers to “unmerited favor”. In other words, it is God granting us that which we don’t deserve and which we cannot be good enough to earn – salvation. There are other aspects of the term “grace”, however.
2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Greg Baker writes, “Grace is God’s provision for our insufficiency.” When I read the verse from 2 Corinthians and this description of Grace, I felt an immediate connection. The experience of losing our baby put this in very clear light. I like to think of myself as a fairly strong person. I have a generally positive disposition and a roll-up-my-sleeves approach to challenges. But this situation was more than I could handle on my own. To say I was “weak” would be an understatement. The fact that I still fall apart occasionally, especially on the anniversary of her death, reveals my emotional weakness.
Baker continues by saying that grace is “God’s provision for where we become incapable, or lack. Paul learned that grace is all he needed. He wanted the thorn in the flesh to depart from him, which would allow him more strength to do what God wanted. God, however, taught him an invaluable lesson. True power is not within ourselves, it comes from the grace that God gives us. When you find yourself lacking, that is when you need the grace of God. Every parent, every Christian will find themselves in positions that only the grace of God can overcome and conquer.
This changed my prayer life. I no longer pray that God helps my children to behave. Instead, I ask God for the grace I need as a father to teach and rear my children correctly. Where I fail as a father, God has grace to succeed. No matter what your deficiency is, grace is your answer. If God has called you do something and you don’t see how you have the personality, ability, or strength to accomplish it, that is what grace is for.”
So I’ve learned that I need God’s grace to cope with this loss. I cannot do it on my own and shouldn’t even try to rely in my own strength. But I’ve also learned that God wants me to accept His grace to be able to help others cope with such a loss. Helping another couple plan the funeral for their baby, going to the visitation and flashing back to our own infant in a casket… these are not things I am strong enough to do on my own. But God’s grace is sufficient. It is enough to empower me to be there for someone else.
I don’t think it was a coincidence that we chose the name “Grace” long before any of the problems even arose. I think God, knowing that our baby would soon leave us, wanted to bring me to a better understanding of His grace – to a better understanding of Himself. So I will obey, and I will Embrace His Grace. I would give anything to hold Grace Marie in my arms just one more time, but when my arms feel empty, I will cling to the promise of His grace.