Beyond Words

(Caution: This is a painful story but please read to the end for this families response)

“Something happened to Anders.” The sound of my wife’s voice on the phone told me something was wrong. Just three hours before that I was helping my wife, Rachel, get our 11-month-old twins, Anders and Linnea, ready for daycare. Now I was grabbing my coat and frantically running to my car. I needed to get to the hospital.

Over the next three days, Rachel and I, along with family and friends, cried out to God to heal our son. Our hearts broke as his body was unable to recover. The pain was palpable, but so was God’s comforting presence.

Thursday I was waving goodbye to my son before heading to work. Saturday I was holding his hand as he went to be with Jesus.

Author of Life
After years of struggling with infertility, learning Rachel was pregnant was an answer to prayer. We were shocked when we found out twins were on the way. After assurance from other parents with twins, we were so excited to meet them.

Thursday I was waving goodbye to my son before heading to work. Saturday I was holding his hand as he went to be with Jesus.

A twin pregnancy is a high-risk pregnancy, and there were additional bumps along the way. Rachel continued to turn the pregnancy over to God. She made Deuteronomy 32:39 her phone background as a reminder that God is the only Author of life: “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” We feel strongly that the children we’ve been allowed to raise are not our own, but God’s gifts to us.

Times were a little crazy with two infants, but we figured out a plan that worked for us. As the days became weeks and the weeks became months, Linnea and Anders’s relationship blossomed. They were crazy about each other, and we were crazy about them. We had fun, we had routines, our kids were crawling and starting to walk along furniture, and our dog was finally getting used to these new additions.

Then my phone rang. After hanging up, my world was never going to be the same.

God Comforts Through His People
As I frantically left for the hospital, I began to pray for health, for healing, for a miracle; that my son would still look like my Anders. When I arrived at the hospital, I was greeted by two police officers and my wife. Arriving at Rachel’s side, through the tears, she pointed out that Anders was in the corner room, right next to us, but I couldn’t see him. The medical personnel were packed into the small room, working on my 11-month-old boy.

One of the officers and a detective approached us, got down on our level, and told us what they knew: Anders was left in his carseat after Rachel dropped them off at daycare; he fell asleep; and he eventually stopped breathing. His daycare provider found him, called 9-1-1, and began CPR until the paramedics arrived. The paramedics were able to get his heart beating again, but we knew everything wasn’t okay.

I needed something familiar in this unfamiliar time, something to cut through the chaos and speak in words that could drown out the noise. Opening my Bible app, I saw James 1:5 was the verse of the day: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” We needed wisdom at that moment. Things were not good for Anders. He needed a miracle.

Asking for prayer, I posted an image with the verse on social media. At the same moment I hit publish, one of my mentors sent the same verse to our Bible study group chat with the words, “For some reason, I felt I should send this to the Friday group.” We are the reason; Anders is the reason.

“That was fast,” Harvey responded. I told him what happened. He prayed, we prayed, and, as people started to read my post, they prayed too. We saw believers hoping in their perfect and loving God, praying to heal our boy.

We saw believers hoping in their perfect and loving God, praying to heal our boy.

A little more than 24 hours later, around 4 p.m. on Friday, January 11, we learned from the medical staff that Anders was not going to make it. There was too much damage to his brain. The time without oxygen before his heart started again was too long. After the doctor left the room, Rachel and I just cried. I had never felt pain so deeply.

Peace in the Pain
So we prayed. We prayed for a miracle—for the one-in-a-million chance. Then we prayed for us to face our situation and to remain faithful to the God who creates and heals. We prayed for strength and courage. We prayed 1 Corinthians 16:13, Anders’s dedication verse, over him and ourselves. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”

After praying, we cried more. What Paul described in Philippians 4:7—“the peace of God that surpasses all understanding”—became real to us. In that hospital room, with our son feet away on life support, it seemed as if the weight was lifted. God was there, with us, holding us. In the worst moment of our lives, the Creator of the universe, our good God, was comforting us.

In the worst moment of our lives, the Creator of the universe, our good God, was comforting us.

After hearing that our son wasn’t going to play with his twin sister again, God drew near to us. Both Rachel and I deeply sensed his loving presence, at the same time, in the same place. In the time since Anders died, we’ve often talked about that moment. Our loving God—the same one who comforts me as I type these words—drew near to us as we cried out to him. He was in that hospital room, comforting us as Anders took his last breath. He was there to welcome our baby boy into heaven. And he has been with us as we’ve stood in the empty space where Anders’s crib was, and the checkout line waiting to buy flowers for his gravesite. God is with us through it all.

On the one-year anniversary of his death, Rachel kept her commemorative social-media post short but poignant. Alongside a picture of Anders and Linnea, she wrote: “The worst day of my life was the best day of his. #seeyoulateranders #meetingJesus.”

Oh, how much I long to meet Jesus in heaven. And I hope my son introduces us.

Ryne Jungling

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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