Theological Reflections On The Death Of Our Daughter -- By: Stephen Wiest
TrinJ 3:1 (Spring 1982) p. 92
On The Death Of Our Daughter
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
RuthAnn Wiest was born, lived, and died on March 21, 1982, the first day of Spring. We would never have known that dark and snowdusted day to be the messenger of reawakening life except for twelve short hours of sunshine which little RuthAnn brought into our lives. Hers was a tiny but determined ray of life that broke into this world three months too soon, and like the precious sunrays of early spring, her life-spark grew weaker and weaker as the day wore on.
We, RuthAnn’s parents, greeted her birth with gladness and fear, thanking the Lord for the child he had given, yet trembling at the thought of her tenuous little life outside the womb. “She is so tiny,” cried out her mother, Donna, when she first saw the child. I, her father, could only call on God’s name as I looked at my little one. Doctors and nurses rushed our one and a half pound baby to a special care nursery and worked hard to sustain her already ebbing existence.
On the human side, RuthAnn was connected to tubes that helped her breathe, tubes that fed her, and many machines monitoring her flickering flame of life. In the spiritual realm, she was in the prayers of scores, perhaps even hundreds of members of at least three different churches. Like her grandparents, who were returning from a trip, we all prayed that God’s will be done for RuthAnn, whether by her life or by her death.
Her mother’s mother called the child “a little witness,” as she watched RuthAnn grasp for life with tiny hands and kick against death with tiny feet. During the one day of her life, we spent time with our child, touching her, telling her that we loved her, and most importantly, telling her that Jesus loves her. Indeed, we are confident and joyful that RuthAnn’s soul is enfolded in the eternal embrace of Jesus Christ, even as we entomb her body today.
Like others, we ask the question, “Why?” But unlike others who are yet without Christ, we have an answer. You see, friends, long before she was born, we dedicated RuthAnn to our God that she might be his servant. We can only believe that the Lord desired RuthAnn to serve him for just one day, but in a mighty way which would affect all our lives forever. Before Sunday, our hearts had grown hardened with spiritual pride and self-righteous judgment of others. But by God’s grace we have been broken again before him. The only sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit and a contrite heart. We can only be grateful
TrinJ 3:1 (Spring 1982) p. 93
to God for the repentance he has granted us by means of our daughter’s brief life....
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