It’s cliché. But it’s true. Life can change in a second. Our neatly ordered plans are not always realized. Our dreams can seemingly be dashed in a moment, a blink of the eye.
Jess and Rachel Rainer woke up on February 3 with excitement and anticipation. They had moved to Hendersonville, Tennessee to plant a church. Jess was doing radio interviews about his book that he co-authored with me, The Millennials. And, more than anything else, they were soon expecting their second son, William Thomas Rainer.
February 3 was also the date of a doctor’s appointment for Rachel. The doctor told Rachel in her previous appointment that she wanted to check a couple of items, but she really wasn’t that concerned. But the news was bad. Very bad. The baby had a rare condition that typically is not detected until later in the term, about the point where Rachel was. Both Jess and Rachel were told that the chances of their son’s survival were slim. But they prayed. They prayed for a miracle. They prayed with hope. Above all though, they prayed that God’s will would be done.
A Son is Born. A Son Dies.
On February 6, with Rachel’s life at risk, the doctors performed a c-section. William Thomas Rainer was born at 3:31 PM. He died at 4:31 PM. He weighed a little over five pounds, and had a head full of black hair like his dad and granddad. He was also named for Jess (his middle name is William) and me.
Rachel wrote these words shortly after Will’s death: “Will went to go be with the Lord at 4:31 p.m. Jess and I were both able to hold him. Will died in our arms very peacefully, with no suffering. We love him and can’t wait to be reunited with him in heaven one day. We rejoice in the Lord for his life!” Jess would send this simple but profound message on Twitter: “We rejoice in the birth and death of our son, William Thomas, today. So thankful that God is in complete control.”
My Heroes of the Faith
Jess and Rachel are among my heroes of the faith. They lost a son. They held him in their arms as he died. They are experiencing a grief unlike any I’ve known. But they are praising God. They are looking forward to being with their son one day. They prayed for his life, but they rest in God’s decision to call him home.
It breaks my heart to see Jess and Rachel make funeral plans for their son. I never thought I would see such a sad moment in my life. But I stand amazed at their strength and their faith. Theirs is a faith that has been tested. Theirs is a faith that is refined and true. I want to be more like Jess and Rachel.
I have written personal blogs about every one of my other three grandchildren after they were born. I probably drive some folks crazy talking and writing about my family so much. But Will will not be left out. He is my fourth grandchild. I love him so much. I will not get to see him grow up, play, or get married. I will not be able to babysit him as I do the other grandchildren. But I will see him again. And I will make up for the lost time when I join him in heaven.
Will, if you could read these words, I would want you to know that you have the best parents in the world. They love you, and they did everything they could for you. They were thankful for the sixty minutes they had with you. And they know they will get to spend eternity with you.
And, Will, please know that your granddad loves you. I am so proud to have you as my namesake. I miss you buddy. But I will see you soon.
William Thomas Rainer.
Born February 6, 2011.
Entered God’s heaven the same day.
To God be the glory.