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Daniel's Grave_3

As I wrote on October 12th, no one adopts a child in a historical vacuum. There is always a backstory behind the decision to adopt.

At the center of our family’s backstory is the gracious work of God through the life and death of our son Daniel, who was born on October 12, 1999, and died three years later on November 19, 2002. Between his birth and death were three years of unrelenting suffering. Since there were only a handful of days when his body was not ravaged by 40-60 successive seizures a day, I can rarely think of him without some measure of pain. But it’s through the pain of those memories that God continues to take me deeper into the gospel. So, what I would like to do today and tomorrow is share two ways that God has used this pain to show me more of Jesus.

During the last few weeks of his life, I slept almost every night with him in his I.C.U. room.  The night hours were the most difficult for me. On a couple occasions I was jerked out of sleep by nurses rushing into the room to get him breathing again. I felt intense stress almost every evening as the night hours approached. Watching him suffer each day and wondering if he would die in the night while I slept next to him was taking a serious toll on me. I was physically and emotionally exhausted.

One evening during the last week of his life, I sat down next to his bed to read Isaiah 53 in hope of finding some refuge, some relief from my inner turmoil and fear.

As I sat there reading, light broke into my heart when I read the first half of Isaiah 53:4, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”

For three years I had witnessed my sons unremitting suffering. His suffering was my suffering. Every time I helplessly watched a seizure wreak havoc on his body pain ripped through my heart. Day after day after day, for three straight years we watched him suffer like this.

It was within that context that the gospel-light of Isaiah 53:4 broken into my heart. Suddenly I saw more beauty in verse 4 than I had ever seen before. “Surely,” I thought, “Jesus has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Then it hit me: “Jesus bore our griefs. He bore our sorrows. It’s remarkable enough that Jesus bore my sorrows, as heavy as I now feel them to be. To think that Jesus would do that for me! But he did more that! Jesus bore the sorrows of all of his people.  If the sorrows I am bearing are on the verge of crushing me, imagine the weight that Jesus was under when he bore all of our sorrows. Oh how Jesus has loved us!”

In those moments of meditation I experienced more of the depth of Jesus’ love than I ever had before. Although Isaiah 53:4 did not take my sorrow away that night, it tenderly, yet powerfully, upheld me with a fresh appropriation of the deep, deep love of Jesus.

Isaiah 53:4 teaches us that when Jesus came so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5), he came to bear more sorrow than we can even begin to fathom. In God’s kindness our painful experience with Daniel continues to deepen our understanding of the gospel and of the greatness of God’s adoptive love for us.

[Read Part 2]

  • David Leventhal

    Dan, thank you for sharing a little bit of your back story. I’m thankful for the light He gave you in Isaiah 53. Grateful for you and your ministry.

    - DPL

  • Rocky Clark

    That was painful to read. I can’t even imagine going through that with one of my boys. I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of your story, and am thankful for a God that can use any situation redemptively, as well as being refreshed by God’s goodness in the gospel

  • Mark

    It was difficult to read… how much more difficult to have written. We have been praying for tomorrow since last week. I actually came on facebook to tell you that but I saw you had already written.

    I do not know your grief but I grieve with you and have been all these years. A father is not supposed to bury his son; that’s now how it’s supposed to be. And it angers me…

    Hardly a day goes by that I do not contend with the Creator and ask Him, “How long!?” How long until He will fulfill all His promises and death will be no more and pain will not be a way of life and the curse a constant reminder!!

    Even this morning He saw fit to remind me that He too has carried this. Christ was born in order to die. How about that for a thought and a heavy one it has been today. “Born that man no more may die…”

    Anyway, I’m going to start rambling but I wanted you to know we’re with you in prayer…

  • Terry

    We pray for you, Dan. Thank you for sharing your heart and insights.

    I appreciate your ministry May God continue to use you.

  • Connie

    I like the way you put it, “There is always a backstory behind the decision to adopt.”

    I appreciate reading how God has written your story. For many it is/was a painful journey. Yet, praise God, His mercy and love always shines forth–even amidst pain and sorrow–and He faithfully carries us.

  • Larry

    I had heard some of the story of your son’s life and death but this vivid account of not only your son’s pain but the pain you and Melissa experienced breaks my heart for you again. I wish I’d had the opportunity to meet your son. I wish I’d known you and Melissa during that time so I could have helped in any way. I long for the day when all things will be made new. I am thankful for the work God is doing through you to promote adoption awareness. Love you friend -Larry

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