Peace in the Sovereignty of God

My son did not live one more day than God planned; and he did not live one day less either.

This truth is one I keep returning to each day as my family and I grieve the death of my son, Kaleb. He was 15 years old. Trials and afflictions marked his life.

Into the Crucible 

He was born ten weeks premature with one of his kidneys covered with cysts. After two months, the doctors believed he was big enough to have surgery to remove that kidney. Once they removed the bad kidney, he could live a normal life with one kidney. As first-time parents, we felt somewhat relieved that the nightmare first two months would soon give way to going home and living a normal life with our newborn boy.

Everything appeared normal at first after the surgery. But that soon changed. His body was swelling and his blood pressure was rising. Something was wrong. After an ultrasound and an MRI, the surgeon came a delivered news to us no parent ever imagines they will hear, “There’s been a mistake. We not only took the bad kidney, but we accidentally took the good kidney as well.” Everything else he said was a blur.

Kaleb’s survival was uncertain. But he did. He defied so many odds. For the next two years, he received dialysis and waited for a transplant. He got his transplant just after turning 2 years old. His mother, my wife, was miraculously his donor. They had ruled her as a non-match just two years earlier.

Written in His Book

While we waited for Kaleb to get a transplant, we were coming to grips with the fact that life would be different forever. Kidney transplants – if he ever got one – don’t last forever. He would need multiple transplants if he lived to old age.

These thoughts can lead you to a dark place. They can grip you with fear about future events that haven’t even occurred. Questions concerning his lifespan and quality of life assaulted our minds. Then God led me to a verse that became rock-solid foundation under our feet.

In Psalm 139:16, David writes, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Before Kaleb existed in the womb, he existed in the mind of God. From the foundation of the world, God determined that Kaleb Reed be born on March 8th, 2004. Not only is this true, but He wrote the days of Kaleb’s life in His book, before one single day came to pass. God wrote the days of his life in His book and He didn’t write it in pencil.

This verse highlights the sovereignty of God over our lives. Nothing catches God off guard. God meticulously planned each day of Kaleb’s life in such a way that He received maximum glory. Kaleb’s kidney being accidentally removed is a tragedy from a human perspective, but unquestionably a part of God’s larger design. God did not turn His face from us or make a mistake. This is the God who works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11).

This verse gave our family immeasurable peace. We did not have to live consumed by “what-if’s” or worry that surgeons robbed Kaleb of opportunity. God created his life, sustained his life, and planned his life. Chance played no role.

Back Into The Fire

After Kaleb’s transplant, he lived a somewhat normal life when measured by his standard. Normal for Kaleb would compare to riding a roller-coaster without a seatbelt for most. He went to school, played video games, and took part in sports, but he dealt with many kinds of side effects from medications to keep his kidney from rejecting. He suffered from respiratory disease that landed him in the hospital several times per year. But compared to his first and last two years, his middle eleven years were stable.

Then in October 2017, everything changed again. Kaleb got fungal meningitis. He had a stroke, lost his motor skills and ability to speak, and was wheelchair bound most of the next two years.

On December 1st, 2019, his sick lungs could not recover, and his body had suffered long enough. He left the sufferings of this present time and stepped into glory. Absent from the body, he is now present with the Lord.

My wife commented on our first morning without him, “Today is the first day of Kaleb’s whole life that he wasn’t in a sick body.” He is healthy now, and will never taste sickness again.

It is all written in His book. God determined both the date of Kaleb’s conception and his death before one day ever came to pass. God fashioned and formed his life and his every experience. He planned it in love and with wisdom.

Peace In Our Pain

Since his death, my wife and I have held tightly to Jesus, each other, and our daughters. We cry and laugh a little – sometimes a lot – each day. It is hard to lose a child. Caring for him governed our lives for over 15 years. It embedded habits and routines into us that are still firing.

We miss him. There’s no getting around that. But we likewise rejoice in his restoration. He loved Jesus and now beholds him with unveiled face. That delights our hearts.

Kaleb lived over 15 years. I’m tempted to add “only” in that previous sentence, but that implies his life was less than the imaginary guarantee we think we deserve. God doesn’t owe any of us a single day. Each day is a gift, not a right. It is a deposit, not a withdraw. Kaleb lived exactly the length of time God determined in eternity past. Nothing was stolen from him. Everything was grace.

There is tremendous peace that accompanies trust in the sovereignty of God. Kaleb did not live one day longer than God had chosen for him from the beginning of time. And he didn’t live one day less either. God planned his life. He ran his race. He fought the good fight of faith. He endured to the end. And he has received his crown. That peace guards our hearts and minds in the midst of our grief.

 

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

26 thoughts on “Peace in the Sovereignty of God

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  1. WOW, when we all want to be comforting you all, you & Katrina are blessing me !! You bless me with the Grace & unconditional love of a parent that even though you all were really young when Kaleb was born & took to meeting all his needs & being his BEST, CONSTANT Advocate through his life/ sickness you were steadfast in your Faith & now since his physical passing from this life to eternal Home & COMPLETE HEALING in Heaven !!! For all of this I say none of us could do this life —- BUT for GOD !! You all & us all here NEED the Lord on the “mountaintops & valleys ” of this life as well as the treks up – down & vice versa !! I thank God for Kaleb & you two as well as your family who love & support y’all so VERY well !!! Much love !!!

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  2. I don’t believe you will have any idea how your words, kalebs life, and your families faith and strength are changing lives today. Mine is forever changed as you share your messages. God bless you.

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    1. I lost my son at the age of 15 in a hunting accident. God took him in a instant, no such, no pain. He was saved when he was 8 years old and told me many times he was ready to be with Jesus. He witnessed to many in those 7 years. I knew the minute I was told of his death that God had plans for him and he had to have him to complete those plans. I have never been so blessed as when he called my son home. I miss him every day and it will soon be 30 years he went home to Jesus.

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  3. Your strength is an inspiration. God’s Peace truly surpasses all understanding. I also have no doubt that Katie Weathers is loving on your precious son as well. Continuing to prayer for you and your family

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  4. Eric, loved your post about precious Kaleb…We lost 2 great grandsons 3 weeks apart (they would have been 2 soon..
    .Without God I don’t know where I would be but I know God has them & I know 1 day I will see them again…God bless you & your family……

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  5. Wow!
    I’ve never seen the Grace of God expounded so beautifully .
    For one brief moment I had tears in my eyes but was quickly overwhelmed by the profound truth of your insights. May our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ continue to bless your life until you will see Him face to face. I am sure Kaleb will be just next to Him.
    Shalom

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  6. Heart breaking, yet re-assuring for all of us who have lost little ones… Ps 139 was our assurance as well when we lost our 1st baby @ 33 weeks in the womb… since then, several more pregnancies ended with miscarriage and these little lives entering their eternal life with Jesus… hard & painful for us as parents, yet deep and profound… “Bless ALL the dear children in Thy tender care…”! has new meaning for those who have lost children…

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  7. Eric, Wow is all I have 🙏🏻❤️This article was so well written and a sweet reminder God is always in control. Blessings from Iowa

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  8. Wow This just tells me, That the Lord has control Day 1 til Our time to go to Heaven he’s planned our seconds! But we have to except him as Our Savior First! Kaleb! Is in his new body resting in the Peace ,God had for him all along Amen!

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  9. Thank you. Thank you for your testimony. Thank you for your faith. Thank you for sharing both. May God’s love shine upon you and your family always and give you the strength to help us others who are weak and doubtful in our belief.

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  10. We spent a year enjoying your messages, and leadership at TJC before God led us elsewhere. I’m currently up with my 5 month old and came across your post. Your words moved me to worship here in my sons nursery, to weep and cry out How Great is Our God! That He would give you such faith, such comfort, such purpose in your loss, it’s beyond beautiful to behold. Thank you for being the vessel that God used to reach me tonight. Continued prayers for your sweet family!

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  11. Thank you for this beautiful story. I have dried my tears and I am so grateful that I read this today. I am the recipient of a liver and kidney transplant, eleven years ago. God has always been in my life but since my transplants, I have a deeper relationship with him. I even find myself asking, why did God Bless me? I was very critical and he spared my life. Why not take me and give life to someone younger. I am 71 and I was transplanted at age 60. I have now accepted that this was God’s plan for me. I am now an advocate for organ donation. I feel better at 71 than I did in my 50’s. I am truly sorry for what you and your wife had to endure. Love and peace to you and your family.

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    1. Erik,

      Thank you for sharing your heart and your message for us all regarding your son. My son just received a transplant at 7, 11 weeks ago today. We attended The Journey Church recently. I had no idea what had happened. I pray you and your family continue to find comfort knowing your son is with our God and pain free.

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    2. Erik,

      Thank you for sharing your heart and your message for us all regarding your son. My son just received a transplant at 7, 11 weeks ago today. We attended The Journey Church recently. I had no idea what had happened. I pray you and your family continue to find comfort knowing your son is with our God and pain free.

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  12. I am so so very sorry for the loss of your son, Kaleb. We lost our son Caleb on October 14th of this year. He was born in September 1993 with half a heart and had 5 strokes at the age of 2. He was 26 years old when he died. Doctors told us when he was a baby that his heart would last until he was about 18 or 29, but God proved them wrong. We are so very heartbroken, but we know that he is with Jesus, and his body is whole. He no longer struggles with all of the disabilities he had in this earth. He no longer has any pain in his heart or the rest of his body because of what the strokes did. We don’t believe he was taken too soon, because we too believe in God’s sovereign goodness. We praise God for the time we had with him, even the hard times that were full of strife. God, in His infinite goodness had allowed our relationships to heal and we were in good terms. He had moved out of the house 8 months prior, and God used that time to work in each of us, and I’m thankful.

    I’m praying that you all feel God’s perfect peace, even as you grieve, as we have and do. We still have daya filled with great grief, but we rejoice, knowing we will see him again.

    God bless you and your family. Have a blessed Christmas.

    Angie

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  13. Erik, thank you for your willingness to share your own journey with others, and to open such a window into your own grief and hope. Thanks as well for being willing to speak sensitively into the wakeupolive situation. Our theologies of suffering and dying are currently so impoverished across much of the church in the west. Voices like yours–gentle, strong, and speaking (and shepherding) in real time from inside that hard experience are so, so needed.

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