Jon and Jenni are Chase's parents. Chase had anencephaly. On their blog, Jon shares a few journal entries he wrote
during the pregnancy and after Chase's birth and death. Their wish is that others may be comforted with the comfort
We are very grateful that they allowed us to publish their texts.
Dont' waste Chase's life
One of the men that we have been so grateful for throughout the past 9 months has been
Dr. John Piper. He has helped us know and treasure God in deeper and more profound ways than we ever have before. We have sought to immerse ourselves in his writings and sermons and he has left us with God time after time again.
Earlier this year he was diagnosed with cancer and on the eve of undergoing prostate surgery he wrote a short article entitled “Don’t Waste Your Cancer.” I was tremendously affected by his passion for God and his intense fight for joy amidst hours of pain and sickness. I was so influenced by this that when we heard the news that our son Chase had a life terminating birth defect I began thinking how not to waste his life.
We believe in God’s power to heal Chase and that it is right and good to ask God to exalt Himself through the miraculous healing of Chase's body. God knows that neither one of us have desired a miracle more than we do now. Chase's life won’t be wasted if we pray for this. But healing is not God’s will for everyone and there are many other ways to waste our sons’ life.
What you are about to read in the next few weeks are 12 discoveries that Jenni and I have seen throughout these past 9 months. They are lessons that we have learned and are still learning. They have comforted us, corrected us, and directed us. Many of them we have learned from you, with you, and through you and our prayer in posting them is that they might minister to you as they have ministered to us (2 Cor.1.3-5). We are praying for ourselves and for you that we not waste Chase's life.
Don't Waste Chase's Life # 1
We will waste Chase’s life if we do not believe that our suffering is designed by God for our good and His glory.
How can this be? How can this horrible reality be for our good and for God’s glory? We must confess that we have asked this question many times throughout these past 9 months. We would both say that we believe with all of our hearts that God is sovereign over everything, but when tragedy knocked on our door new questions began to emerge in our hearts. It was one thing to say we believe this in the midst of our easy, suffering-free life, but it was another to believe this with all of our hearts in the midst of unimaginable tragedy.
Some believe and have said that God could not have willed this to happen – He just permitted it. Though I understand their logic I believe they are wrong, and it has brought us no comfort. What God allows, He allows intentionally. And this intentionality is His design. God could have formed and knitted Chases’ head differently (Psalm 139.13), but He has willed not to. He has willed not to because this is His design. It is His design so that all things, including suffering work out for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8.28).
God was not strong-armed into submission by some other force outside of Himself to allow this, for if this was true than God would cease to be God. God graciously rules over all things, including Satan, and everything that He purposes happens, and nothing but His purposes happen (Isaiah 14.24,27).
Acknowledging and embracing this truth of God’s gracious rule over all doesn’t mean that we play the “pat Christian” and say all of the “pat” answers while we drown in confusion, anger, and self-pity. It isn’t meant to lead to stoicism or dishonesty. This truth is meant to drive us to God in all of our sorrow and pain. It’s meant to lead us to affirm all that we know to be true about God from His Word, lay everything that we are facing on the table, plead for God’s help in our time of need and then emerge standing firm on Biblical convictions regardless of how we feel. God welcomes His children in all of their suffering, pain, and confusion, He doesn’t avoid them. For it was His design that these trials and afflictions would lead us to rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1.9) and in whose presence is the fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16.11). If we do not believe that this momentary affliction is designed by God for our good and His glory we will waste Chase's life.
Don't Waste Chase's Life # 2
We will waste Chase’s life if in our time of affliction we distance ourselves from God instead of drawing near
“Let us with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4.16) for we have a mighty Savior who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows (Is 53). He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, and our temptations yet was without sin (Heb 4.15). He deals gently with the weak because He Himself is beset with weakness (Heb 5.2). Therefore let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith (Heb 10.22) knowing that our suffering Savior welcomes His suffering children in their time of need.
Many have called this act of “drawing near” communion with God. Among the many was a man named John Owen (1616-1683). Owens experience of communion with God amidst significant trial and affliction is a great example for us. John Owen was a godly father to eleven children and he walked through the valley of weeping with Jesus eleven times - he buried all of his eleven children before he died in 1683. Writing a letter during an illness in 1674 he said to a friend, “Christ is our best friend and ere long will be our only friend. I pray God with all my heart that I may be weary of everything else but converse and communion with Him.” John Owen, enabled by the grace of God embraced trial and affliction in his life so that it drove him into deeper communion with God not away from it. Owen said, “Friendship is most maintained and kept up by visits; and these, the more free and less occasioned by urgent business…” In other words, in the midst of an extremely painful and busy life he made many visits to meet His glorious friend and to think about His greatness.
It is only in God that we will find our supreme comfort during times of suffering and affliction. John Owen drew near to God in the midst of his many journeys through the valley of weeping and he found light, comfort and freedom. God invites us to find and experience the same.
“In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me (Psalm 18.6,19).” If we do not draw near to God in our distress and affliction we will waste Chases’ life.
Don't Waste Chase's Life # 3
We will waste Chase's life if we are more aware of how difficult this trial is instead of being preoccupied with Christ and His all-sufficient grace.
On the morning of 2.24.06 I was sitting in Starbucks spending time with Jesus. It was just over a month before Jenni and I were knocked to our knees with the news that our little Chase had a life terminating birth defect. Little did I know that on that day God was preparing me for what I was to face for the next year + of my life. I remember crying at the corner table b/c I was so affected by how God was speaking to me through His Word. I remember going home that night wanting to tell Jenni how God met me and wanting to prepare her for the day suffering would come knocking on our door. We heard the knock on 4.5.06. What you are about to read is my journal entry on the morning of 2.24.
David is King here in this Psalm (v. 11). And we know that someone is attempting to terminate his life (v. 9). We know from 2 Sam 15.23 that the individual seeking David’s life is his very own son Absalom.
What must it have been like for David? He was experiencing relational abandonment and estrangement from his very own son that he loved and sought to raise up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. But not only was their relational abandonment and estrangement, there was hatred that was expressing itself in murderous desires.
What does David do in this moment? What does he think of? Where does he go? Who does he seek? David’s example is worth imitating for he is “a man after God’s own heart.”
David prays. This entire Psalm is addressed to one person, GOD. He asks for one thing – GOD himself. He doesn’t pray for protection, victory, silence, peace, rest, relational reconciliation…he prays for God (v. 1).
David needed to know and to feel that God’s steadfast love was and is better than life (v. 3). David could have been killed in the middle of the night by a traitor in his army. How did he sleep at night? How did he keep his eyes and mind off of the difficulty in the situation? He reminded himself that the steadfast love of the Lord was better than life. It was better than the possibility or the reality of being killed in the night. But this rest is not a rest that is easily felt. David needed God to answer this prayer and help him not just to taste the reality of this truth but to feel it as well.
OH TO KNOW MY HEAVENLY FATHER LIKE THIS! To value and treasure God in such a way that all else pales in comparison. Ease pales, comfort pales, exaltation pales, pleasure pales, all things pale in comparison to knowing and treasuring Christ. Would this not be better than all the world could offer?!?
When all else is put in its proper reality and God is central and engulfs all of our hearts affections, desires, trust, then we will sing for joy, b/c we will not account our life as of any value only that we might behold the beauty and glory of the Lord in His sanctuary.
When there are trials in my life where is it that I turn? I usually go to the purpose of these trials to provide me comfort. I go to James 1. How often though do I go to Psalm 63? How often do I think, “I need to fellowship and be with my Jesus?”
There will be times in my life where I will be fearful and heart broken, where will I turn? Will I drown in thoughts of how difficult my life is in that moment? What will be shining as the all encompassing value and desire of my heart? Will it be God? Lord may it be so.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12.1-3) If we do not fix our eyes on Christ and spend more time learning and growing in our love for Him as opposed to drowning in the difficulty of our suffering we will waste Chase’s life.
Don't Waste Chase's Life # 4
We will waste Chases’ life if we saturate our minds with thoughts of self, or this birth defect instead of the Christ exalting, faith producing, heart transforming, Word of God.
It is not wrong to know about Chase’s birth defect. But if we spend more time learning about Chase’s medical condition than we do learning about God and His design our souls will shrink. Suffering is meant to awaken Christians to greater visions of God.
Our greatest need is to have God speak directly to us during this time of difficulty. We need the truth of who God is and what He is like particularly with regard to what we are walking through. We need to see His purposes, we need to encounter the powerful effect of His unfailing promises. We need to hear God talking and experience Him working. We need to hear God speak to us from the Bible!
Is this a time for theology? If you mean truth about God, who He is, what He is like, and what He promises to do for us…ABSOLUTELY! Our primary need is to be near to God and hear His perspective on this. Why? Because God’s voice speaks louder than the screams of our pain, shines brighter that any present darkness, endures longer than anything that is or could be lost, and is the defining reality for all of life…including suffering.
Left to ourselves we would be delusional. This suffering would overwhelm us, obsess us and fill us with worry and distraction. God would seem invisible, silent, non-existent. Pain and how this leads to endless imaginations are intoxicating. We would be caught in a tailspin of fear, guilt, regret, confusion, anger, emptiness, and uncertainty. Who wants to live this way, especially in times of suffering?
What we need most in this hour is to hear our Saviors voice through God’s Word and to feel our heavenly Fathers hand by believing the truth found in God’s Word. We need to hear this voice and believe this truth as we spend those precious moments with God everyday alone. We need to hear it when we cry, when we pray, when we laugh, when we’re weary from the fight to believe. We need to hear it when we are staring at the sonogram machine, or when the doctor tells us our baby has minutes or days to live. We need to hear His voice and believe His truth as we fellowship with our friends and family. If we listen, we will become fearless. If we listen, we will endure. If we listen, we will fight the good fight. If we listen, we will know that we need to be rescued. If we listen we will persevere. If we listen, we will live.
Psalm 119.71-72 “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold or silver pieces.” What a waste of our son’s life if we spend more time thinking about this trial or his medical condition than we do thinking about God!
Don't Waste Chase's Life # 5
We Will Waste Chase's Life If We Grieve as Those Who Have No Hope.
Deep, intense grief is no respector of persons; man or woman, rich or poor, young or old - there is no difference. All one has to do is live long enough and they will encounter intense grief of some kind.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). James Bruce in his book From Grief to Glory writes, "What lies beyond the cemetery is the valley of weeping. Even before we leave our loved one's grave we have begun that journey into this valley." All of us will find ourselves in this valley at some time in our lives. But what will divide all in this valley will be those who grieve with hope and those who do not.
The Bible says "rejoice always" and "give thanks in all circumstances." How can one rejoice or give thanks amidst unspeakable sorrow? How in the world can joy and hope mix with pain and suffering? In the beautiful wisdom of God grief and hope can coexist with one another and indeed do.
There really is a "peace that surpasses all understanding" and grace to "rejoice always." God has given His children "not a spirit of fear, but of love, discipline and self-control." They mix because we as Christians can believe by grace that God does "cause all things to work out for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose." We must believe that God "will never turn away from doing us good, but will rejoice in doing us good with all of His heart and soul." We must believe that "The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess 4.16-17)
When tragedy and grief visit our homes we as Christians have an opportunity to shine forth the beauty of Christ and the power of the gospel. For those who are without God and without hope in this world denial, escapism, and busyness are the ways to cope with pain. The pain feels overwhelming and God seems invisible, non-existent, or the enemy who has now taken something good from us. So in an effort to cope or “get through it” distraction is king. People saturate their minds with entertainment, or fill their stomachs with booze and mind numbing medicine. They know of no other alternative and Christians have an awesome opportunity to point to Christ who offers them rest and peace.
Suffering, pain, grief, and hardship are designed to lead us to someone. It is designed to lead us to Christ. Jesus Christ and what He accomplished in dying with our sins on his back make it possible for us to have hope in the midst of unspeakable pain and sorrow. We can have hope because Christ exhausted the wrath of God on our behalf. We can have hope because Christ bore our sins and purchased forgiveness for those that would trust in Him. We can have hope because Christ has provided a perfect righteousness that is ours in Him. We can have hope because Christ has purchased perfect and final healing. We can have hope because Christ and only Christ has conquered death. We can have hope because Christ has defeated Satan. We can have hope because Christ has died so that those who trust in Him would be brought into the presence of God. Jesus Christ is the most awesome reality that has ever and will ever be. He purchased and accomplished all of these things and He did it through massive suffering. So hear the Savior say to us who suffer and grieve “come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” For “you do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with your weaknesses, but one who was tempted yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near to the throne of grace so that we might find help and grace in our time of need.” We can have hope in the midst of pain, but we can have hope because of and only because of Christ and what He has done. All of our pain, suffering, sin and stupidity will all be overruled for Christ’s glory and our good. And it is this knowledge of redemptions far reach that is meant to fill our hearts and minds with hope that cannot be crushed.
Don't Waste Chase's Life # 6
We will waste Chase's life if we retreat into solitude instead of cultivating deep, God centered relationships.
Suffering among many other things is designed to refine and display our faith in Christ as Christians. Trials and suffering will encompass believers, but their faith is strengthened and upheld by God’s righteous right hand. They have hope in the midst of unimaginable hardship. Their understanding and love for God increases. They know more of the depth of the Father’s love for them and this comfort that they receive from God overflows and finds a place of rest in the lives of other suffering people. Sometimes it’s a silent embrace, a letter, or the acknowledgement that one has been praying. Other times it’s comic relief, a home-cooked meal, or a small gift.
Jenni and I have encountered all of these over the past 8 months and our faith has been strengthened and refined - but God has strengthened and refined our faith in massive ways through some really awesome and undeserved friends. We have been cared for by more people than we could think of or imagine, but there are 8 people that have carried our joy and pain unlike anyone else. They have cried with us, laughed with us, encouraged us, corrected us, blessed us with fellas only/ladies only nights out. They have loved Chase in ways that have blown us away. They threw a birthday party for him, made a cake, made bracelets with their kids for little Chase, showered us and him with gifts, held him in the hospital and told him of his Savior and the impact that he has had on their lives. We could fill hundreds of pages with all that they have done to demonstrate their love for us.
Philippians 2.3-8 says“…in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
These 8 people have been the surest and clearest demonstration of these verses that Jenni and I have ever encountered. They have comforted us, helped us, and uplifted us. They have forgotten themselves and have immersed their lives in all of our pain and joy. They have so binded their lives to us and baby Chase that our life and his life has become theirs. As Scripture says, they have lost their lives and in doing so have found it.
Suffering is meant to lead us not away from, but into the midst of others. We are called to “rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep” (Romans 12.15). We are called to “carry one another’s burdens and in this you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6.2).
Eric, Lisa, Isaac, Kelly, Joe, Emo, Curt, and Betsy you have become more dear to our hearts than we could ever express and we thank God for you because you have taught us, encouraged us, and exhorted us – whether you knew it or not –to seize this moment to build and cultivate deep, God centered relationships. You are some of our heroes and we want to introduce you to all that read this blog with the hope and prayer that your example will have echoing effects in their lives. You have helped us to not waste our son’s life. We will waste Chase’s life if we retreat into solitude instead of cultivating deep, God-centered relationships with others.
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Last updated 15 October 2007