Joining the Disciples In Their Fear, Grief, and Joy
Tomorrow is my wife’s due date. We’ve named our baby Boone Shepherd, and he is the sixth child the Lord has entrusted to our care. With the arrival of Boone’s due date, I feel like one of Jesus’s disciples during his time on earth.
Their lives developed a pattern of stages:
Their ancestors had been waiting centuries for the messiah to arrive. His coming was foretold in prophecy:
- He would be born from the line of David.
- He would be rejected by the world.
- Though his bones would not be broken, he would be killed and then rise again three days later.
- He would smash the head of one who would strike his heel, defeating death and sin, making all things new.
I think of the questions they must have asked about their messiah before his coming:
- What will he look like?
- How will he enter the world?
- How long will he be here? And perhaps the most asked question,
- When will he arrive?
We’ve asked the same questions of our son Boone.
Ultrasound indications suggested a chromosomal condition called Trisomy 18, and this was later confirmed with genetic testing.
For the disciples, the answers came with the birth of a child in Bethlehem, and they soon experienced the majesty of physically walking with the living God.
But God didn’t come to give them as easy life. He took them for an emotional roller-coaster, showing them what it really means to love, and the proper way to hate evil and injustice.
We have experienced the waiting. And like those waiting for the messiah, we knew this would be a very special child.
We have experienced the rejoicing. We have rejoiced in knowing that he is coming. We have rejoiced that God has decided to bless us with a child. And we rejoice that his family on earth is so rich in love.
What will he look like?
We have experienced the fear. Delivering a child with Trisomy 18 is a precarious circumstance.
How will he enter the world?
Few babies with Trisomy 18 survive birth. Less survive a month.
How long will he be here?
And like the disciples, we asked:
When will he arrive?
The disciples knew their messiah had come, but thew knew not the time, nor the method by which their Savior would leave them.
As it was for Boone.
The answers came for us on April 16, 2015, two months before his due date.
We have experienced the mourning. Boone was with us for 58 minutes before his Spirit went to be with the Lord.
Fortunately, we have the privilege of escaping one stage of the disciples’ pattern: despair. They struggled for three days to see if Old Testament prophecy would be fulfilled, confirming Jesus as the true messiah.
But today, God’s word reveals, and history attests the truth of the resurrection of Christ. And because of that revelation, we have faith.
Now we are realizing what the disciples were told, but could not grasp until seeing the risen Lord after his resurrection:
Not our wills, but His be done
They did not expect their Savior to die. But His death was part of a schematic designed by a being with infinite knowledge, power, and love. And while the disciples despaired for a time, God knew their pain would become joy with the unfolding of his plan to redeem all of humanity.
And that is what happened.
When they saw God’s transforming power in the risen body of Jesus Christ, how he changes the will of the wretched and comforts the hearts of righteous, how he defeated death once and for all, they began a celebration.
We cannot see Boone again. Not here. Now now. He cannot be with us.
But Jesus can.
That is why we celebrate. That is why our joy can never be stolen by tragedy—not even the death of our youngest son.
Though he died, he is not gone.
Because Jesus lives, Boone lives.
And we will see him again.
About Jason B. Ladd
Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.