William Thomas Rainer: In Memory. To God Be the Glory.

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.

From Granddad

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.    

Posted on February 14, 2011

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  • Lee Bailey says on

    Being a grandmother myself who adores my two grandchildren, I can’t even fathom the agony you and your family are experiencing today. I especially have been thinking of Nellie Jo these past few days, although I doubt I would have words to say to her if I saw her. My deepest sympathy and prayers are coming your way. Some dear friends from church went through a similar experience several years ago…they had four children already and their fifth was born with a catastrophic defect that caused her death soon after her birth. I spoke with her dad before she died and asked how they were holding up. His answer was amazing…he told me “God just saw fit to give us a different kind of blessing this time.” What faith!! I can’t understand your grief, but I can pray for God and others to hold you and help you through it.

  • Almost twelve years ago we lost our first born son Josiah. To this day it is still one of the most defining moments in my life. Even during that most difficult time one fact reminded God was still good, He never changes. Tim and I have been praying for you and your family as you walk this journey. Know that others have walked it before you and that we will pave your way with prayer to a loving heavenly father who knows and understands our deepest grief.

  • Sandra Wilson says on

    My heart breaks for all of you. Thank you for sharing and bringing hope and comfort.

  • There is nothing I can say except all of you are in my prayers. Thank you for your witness.

  • Melissa Kruse says on

    Dr. Rainer,
    Two years ago, we lost our daughter, Isabella. I was 8 months pregnant and went for a routine doctors appointment. There was no heartbeat. The umbilical cord had twisted and had caused her death. I was induced and delivered her stillborn. And although our loss happened a little differently, we know the pain and heartache of losing a child.
    Having walked through this journey of heartache, we are praying for your son and daughter-in-law. We also pray for you, a grandparent who lost their grandchild.
    We know that in the coming days and weeks, God will comfort and heal. This passage meant a lot to us ,Isaiah 41:10. Even though it has been two years, we still have days that we lean on this verse to remind us that God is strengthening us, loves us, and is helping us through this journey.
    If there is ever a day when your son and daughter-in-law need someone to listen and know, please pass along my email to them. My husband is a youth and college minister in Tennessee not too far from Nashville.

  • Such a tender, touching tribute to your precious little grandson and his parents. Thank you for sharing your family’s joy and sorrow with us. May our compassionate God continue to comfort you all with His healing hand.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this painful, yet glorious, story with us. What a testimony . . .

  • Jeff Maness says on

    Dr. Rainer, thank you so much for sharing that. What an amazing testimony. You and your family were a blessing to me today through this. Praise God!

  • Todd Randolph says on

    Dr. Ranier, thank you for this post. It is a tremendous testimony, not only to Jess and Rachel’s faith, but to the example displayed to them by Godly parents.

  • Thank you for sharing this and so tenderly reminding us that every hour, each minute of every hour, is sacred. My sincerest condolences to you and your family.

  • Wow. What a tremendous post. Condolences to you and your family.

  • Jeff McMillan says on

    I am almost at a loss for words. Thank you Jess and Rachel for your testimony.

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