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  • Writer's pictureJack Hager

>Grief Stricken – But God Sustained


Fuji Kim and the Korean Kamp I have spoken at annually for over twenty years are tightly intertwined. Fuji is a dear friend, visited us at our home in New York, and we’ve always been wrapped up in Jesus and His Gospel.

I rejoiced when Fuji (finally!) wed a few years ago, and rejoiced with the news of their pregnacy, and was stunned when I learned they lost their daughter…

Fuji and Lisa sent out an email several months ago, summing up what they would say at a memorial service for their daughter…I asked Fuji permission to share it, as I believe the transparent honesty laced with gospel truth is a testimony of God’s sustaining grace and may well be of help to others.

Fuji just gave me permission to share; and here it is:


As having married later in life, I was the excited daddy-to-be. Having to bear the literal burden of pregnancy, Lisa was apprehensive yet joyful.

In the 33rd week of pregnancy, Lisa delivered our stillborn child, Ivy. We are quietly coming to grips with the death as only God’s peace in Jesus can provide.


Around the 30th week of the pregnancy, Lisa began to notice less fetal movement. In a regularly scheduled checkup, on March 16, the nurse-technician reported the normal heartbeat and weight of the baby. Lisa continued to be worried about the diminished movement yet was comforted by the results of the checkup. Online viewpoints diverged–some babies being more active and moving a lot at this stage, others being passive or constrained with less space. Lisa concluded all this as a natural progression.

On return from a trip to Los Angeles for a week, Lisa started a new workweek. On Monday, March 29, having been worried about the condition of the baby with the lack of fetal movement and having weighed the same as before the trip (especially when weight should be increasing), Lisa decided to check with the doctor after work. With previously scheduled checkup on Thursday, Lisa called the Women’s Care unit to possibly change the appointment to that day. The nurse suggested that lack of movement could be normal for some women but if a checkup was desired Lisa could go to the Labor and Delivery triage at Abington. Lisa was still debating about going in for the checkup.

At Abington Hospital, the checkup revealed no heartbeat. She called me at 5:45; a heartbreaking moment. Lisa was admitted to the Labor and Delivery department where I soon joined her.

As we faced the initial shock of losing the baby, the process of preparing for the delivery began. Doctors and nurses visited us Monday evening with prospects for a delivery on Tuesday afternoon.

Despite infrequent contractions beginning from 3am, Lisa slept through the night. The projected time of delivery had changed to Tuesday evening or even Wednesday. However, with increased pain from contractions, within 5 minutes of administering the epidural, Lisa entered the final part of the delivery. Baby was delivered with less than 15 minutes of labor (3:11pm). After the umbilical cord was cut, the doctor allowed Lisa to hold the baby. Dismay was mixed with amazement–we meet our child yet only the body.

My older brother in Denver and cousin Joanne, without having informed us, had arrived at the hospital during the delivery. As a father of seven and pastor, my brother’s presence, counsel and comfort were timely. In the evening, my aunt and uncle arrived.

For the remainder of the evening, the baby remained with us in the delivery room. After much deliberating, we decided for an autopsy (conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia).

We were also pleasantly surprised by Lisa’s close friend and pastor, Austine Cho (Yuong Sang) who dropped by. His fellowship was good for us especially his prayer and choice of Scripture passage (2 Samuel 12, of David’s loss of his child with Bathsheba).

On Tuesday, the hospital social worker must’ve been from “Touched by an Angel” tv show. She, for some odd reason, guessed that we were believers. Her counsel was filled with gentleness, comfort and biblical truths. She encouraged us, providentially, with the same 2 Samuel 12 passage.

In the 2 Samuel 12 passage, King David was praying and fasting for the healing of his illegitimate child with Bathsheba (former wife of Uriah). After seven days, the child died. David’s servants were afraid that telling King David the bad news of the death would trigger a personal breakdown. On hearing the news,

[20] … “David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. [21] Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” [22] He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ [23] But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

There is much to be learned from the above, especially about the values that drive believers to act and react unlike the world does (as shown by the baffled servants). But allow Lisa and I to just share a few things from the last few lines that comfort us. The passage rings true with our emotions: Our hearts want to go to Ivy; yet Ivy will not return to us. The passage rings true with our faith in a sovereign God: He allows for death and yet He is gracious. Hence, like David, we trust God and worship. What David longed for in his heart becomes, in the death and resurrection of Jesus, a certainty for believers—“Can I bring her back again?” No. But Jesus’ resurrection will be made real for all believers including Ivy, to be resurrected.

As believers in the gospel, we agree with B.B. Warfield: “Today few Calvinists can be found who do not hold . . . that all who die in infancy are the children of God and enter at once into His glory — not because original sin alone is not deserving of eternal punishment, nor because they are less guilty than others, nor because they die in infancy, but simply because God in His infinite love has chosen them in Christ before the foundation of the world.”

In due time, we will go to Ivy; Ivy need not return to us. On that Day, when Jesus fulfills His Kingdom, we shall meet Ivy “in the sweet, by-and-by, we small meet on that beautiful shore.” [Hymn, “There’s a Land that is Fairer than Day”]

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