by Brittany Brooks Reed
God is still good. God is still good. God is still good.
I wrote this sentence over and over again on a blank page. Trying to get what I know to be true from my head into my heart. I had just returned from the cemetery where I sat for 30 minutes just staring at my son’s gravestone marker. The reality of what my life was now, hit almost as hard as it did the morning I found him without a pulse. Why now Lord are you taking me back to that dreadful morning?
May 6, 2016
I awoke to Bennett stirring at 3:17 a.m. Wiping my eyes, I reached for him in his crib right next to our bed. He was only 24-days-old, and as a nursing mama, I had gotten little to no sleep in the last three weeks. I changed his diaper, and took him into the den so as not to wake my sleeping husband. He nursed for 45 minutes and I stroked his hair, and remember thinking, “I am so tired, but he looks so peaceful.”
We all fell back asleep, unaware that this would be the last time I saw my son alive.
My husband’s alarm went off at 6 a.m., and I leaned over to check on Bennett. When I went to move him, he fell limp in my arms. I quickly looked for respiratory effort and checked for a pulse while screaming for Eric, my husband, to call 911. As a Labor and Delivery nurse, I am trained in neonatal resuscitation, so I began CPR. The fire department was at our house within two minutes, literally. The ambulance was close behind, and I loaded into it along with Bennett.
We sped away to Children’s Hospital of Birmingham, a short commute from our small suburb of Gardendale, Alabama.
The whole way there I cried, “Lord, have mercy. You can save him!” The two men in the ambulance were silent. I asked them, “Have you found a pulse yet?” The man shook his head. My Mama heart was hanging onto hope, but my nurse heart knew he was already with Jesus.
My prayer for mercy had been answered, just not the way I had hoped for. Being with Jesus is far better than this sin-filled world, and yet I still felt a longing to have my son in my arms. After all, I am simply a mom who loves her son.
The morning of his death, I looked at Eric and said, “God is still good. He is sitting on His throne holding Bennett, and what Satan meant for harm, the Lord will redeem.”
Life now… four months later
My husband and our other two sons, Brooks (5-years-old) and Brady (2-years-old), are trying to find our new normal.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: grief is messy.
It is ugly, making you feel and say things you never dreamed you would. It comes in waves, sometimes to stay for awhile, sometimes for only a brief moment.
I’m a fixer, so as soon as we got past the first two weeks of constant family and friends, funeral home meetings, and the funeral itself, I began immediately searching for a purpose to this pain. If I believed God was a good God, that He was sovereign, and that He was going to redeem this, then I had to find purpose in all this yucky grief mess.
I began reading anything I could get my hands on. I flowed in and out of all the stages of grief except for anger. Anger hasn’t come… Not yet, anyway. I dug into books, songs, and God’s word. I prayed and I cried, and prayed, and listened and cried. I leaned in, and then leaned out only to reel myself back, leaning into the Lord. I began to grow frustrated with what he was doing and why he wasn’t showing me what I longed to see.
People said, “Oh, your tragedy is making a difference in so many lives,” My response to God was, “Why my son? Why did you have to use my son?” And clear as could be, I heard him say, “Brittany, do you think my mom wanted to carry the savior of the world? Do you think she wanted to watch her son die a miserable, painful, unimaginable death for your sins?”
I don’t know what the future holds for our little grief-stricken family, but I’m learning the hardest lesson of my life — To sit and wait quietly for the Lord. He wants my dependence in every situation, and he will move Heaven and Earth to accomplish the purpose for Bennett’s short life. But he wants to train me first.
He wants me to need him more and desire him more than I need to know why he allowed Bennett to be taken.
God is always in the details, and I believe he is weaving together the perfect story, but just as the birds not need know the details, neither do I (Matthew 6:26). I’ve had to ask God for forgiveness for running ahead of his perfect timing and trying to fix this brokenness inside me. He knows what I need and when I need it. He already stands in my future and sees the very best route for me.
So, for now, I trust, I praise, and I believe in the Promise Maker, and the Promise Keeper. In this waiting period, the Lord is refining me.
Can we all just take time out of our tragedies, or journeys, or everyday life to just sit and wait on what the Lord has promised he will fulfill in his timing?
The Lord spoke to me almost as if he was sitting right next to me and said, “Brittany, this is your Bennett verse.” So I will cling to it while I’m waiting and learning:
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.”
2 Corinthians 2: 3-11