Two Apostles by Peter Paul Rubens, ca. 1611.

“Is this Amber, the mother of Sebastian Frederick?”

“Yes…”

“I’m so sorry, but Dr. Batahally is requesting that you and your husband come to Sebastian’s bedside immediately. His vitals dropped this morning. The doctors are trying to stabilize him, but he’s not responding well. Please come as quickly as you can.”

On the morning of January 9th, 2022, just five days after giving birth to my son Sebastian Rashaw Frederick, I received the above call from one of the NICU nurses. My husband and I ran red lights to get to the hospital, our greatest fear quickly becoming a reality. A few hours later, our son was dead.

There are a million clichés I could use to describe what my husband and I felt seeing our little boy lying lifeless on that medical table: Our hearts stopped. Our stomachs dropped. We couldn’t breathe…Suffice it to say that our world came to a very sudden and painful halt.

But in the days and weeks that followed, from the tear-eyed phone calls, to the surreal visit to the mortuary, to removing the bassinet from our bedside and closing the nursery door, my husband and I experienced an amazing truth…

GOD. IS. FAITHFUL.

That’s Christianity 101, I know, but so much of what we “believe” as Christians is mere mental ascent. It takes the fires of trials, the low valleys of suffering to show us what we really believe and to brand these beliefs on our hearts as TRUTH.

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

Psalm 119:71

No one wants to learn God’s decrees this way. I surely didn’t. But in the same way that pruning is necessary to keep plants healthy and alive, so too are trials.

It is a melancholy fact, that constant temporal prosperity, as a general rule, is injurious to a believer’s soul. We cannot stand it. Sickness, and losses, and crosses, and anxieties, and disappointments seem absolutely needful to keep us humble, watchful, and spiritual-minded. […] They are not pleasant to the flesh and blood. We do not like them, and often do not see their meaning. […] We shall find that all worked out for our good when we reach heaven.

“Holiness” by J.C. Ryle, p. 134

Thankfully, God does not charge us to suffer and then leave us to struggle in life’s tempest alone. We have the promises in His word (Deut 31:8, Mat 5:4, Rom 15:13).

Oh, how alive scripture becomes when you’re in the valley! How precious are his words when your cheeks are tear-stained and your heart hangs like a loadstone in your chest! How GREAT the assurance we have in Christ! How trustworthy is our God!

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

Greater still, suffering is not wasted in our lives. It not only humbles us and increases our faith and trust in God, it edifies and strengthens the Body. Think of Elizabeth Elliot, Horatio Spafford, and Joni Eareckson, to name a few.

Most, if not all of us, are familiar with these names. They are great men and women of faith who experienced shocking, life-altering tragedies but whose faith in the midst of those trials has encouraged generations upon generations of Christians.

After her husband was killed in Ecuador by Waodani warriors, Elisabeth Elliot could have cursed God and given up on missions. Instead, she trusted God and later returned with her daughter to live among and minister to the same people who killed her husband.

After losing all five of his children and much of his wealth and property, Horatio Spafford could have turned bitter and angry at his lot in life. Instead, he trusted God and penned the words to what’s arguably one of the greatest hymns of all time, “It is Well With My Soul.”

After an accident that left her a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, Joni Eareckson could have shut down and lived in a state of depression her whole life. Instead, she trusted God and through numerous books, a radio show, and her art, encourages and comforts the disabled community within the church.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

2 Corinthians 1:3-6

We’re not allowed to be selfish even in our grief. This has been one the hardest truths for me to accept.

I have to guard myself against bitterness when I see God bless other couples with healthy babies. I have to guard myself against anger towards God and thinking him cruel for allowing my son to die. I have to deny myself, trust God, and learn his decrees, so that I can edify the Body.

It’s an uphill battle, dear sisters. There are times I think I’ve reached the summit only to find myself brought low again. But God is making something beautiful out of this tragedy, and by his grace and strength, we will make it through.

My husband and I will continue to cling to the promise that we’ll see our son again in the next life, and that God will be the lifter of our heads and a sure and steady anchor in this life.

So, wherever this post finds you, whether you’re in the valley or on the mountaintop, you don’t have to fear life’s troubles. God is true to his word.

Like the Apostle Peter who walked on water, if you keep your eyes trained on Christ, the waves will not consume you.

I come, God, I come
Return to the Lord
The one who’s broken
The one who’s torn me apart
You struck down to bind me up
You say You do it all in love
That I might know You in Your suffering

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need

My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I’ll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I’ll know every tear was worth it all

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need

Though tonight I’m crying out
Let this cup pass from me now
You’re still all that I need
You’re enough for me
You’re enough for me

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need

“Though You Slay Me”, Shane & Shane, 2013

Sebastian Rashaw Frederick
1.4.2022 – 1.9.2022

Until next time, salutations and selah.

14 thoughts on ““Though You Slay Me…”: Trusting God in Grief

  1. Thank you for sharing this powerful and humbling testimony. I pray God uses it to minister to others. Sending hugs and much love in-Christ.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your faith is beautiful here Amber. It has encouraged me. You have suffered great loss and I am amazed at the beautiful heart that God has given you. May God continue to strengthen you and grow you in His Sovereign will. I love you Amber.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love you too, Laura! Thanks for reading. 🙂 Being a part of such a loving body has helped Rashaw and I immensely. So, thank you for your prayers and for being there for us. I’m glad this post was encouraging. You’re in my prayers as well. 🙂

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  3. Your strength, courage and faith are all so deeply inspiring and encouraging. I appreciate you sharing your journey of loss enveloped in faith. May God continue to carry you through.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Basmiah. Writing it was just as much for me as for anyone who has suffered loss. It’s still a battle, but with God we have the strength to win.

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  4. My heart absolutely breaks for you, Amber. And my heart rejoices in your powerful witness that God is faithful. What a blessing to know that angel Sebastian is clasped in the loving arms of his Savior until you can clasp him in yours again. May your Job-like faith and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus during this heart-rending time and always. Sending love and prayers your way.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, Wendy. I’m glad God is using this for his glory. It’s an emotional roller-coaster, but God has been gracious to me and Rashaw, and we’re hopeful about the future. Thank you for reading! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Please take care of yourself and your husband. Grief is indeed the valley of the shadow of death. I have been there. Our great God will, as you trust your grief to Him, walk you through this. I believe. Give yourselves the time you need to be able to laugh again. ♥️
    A song that has been a blessing to me is Casting Crowns “Scars in Heaven”. I hope that you will find it so for you.
    In love ♥️🙏‼️

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    1. Thank you, Laura. It is indeed a valley of shadow, but as you said, God is with us there. My husband has been a great support and comfort through this, for which I’m so, so grateful. I pray I’m able to continue to comfort him as well. 🙂

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  7. Oh, Amber! I am so sorry. My heart goes out to you and Rashaw. In trying to form words of empathy, I keep coming up short. I want to send you love and light in whatever small way I can and cry with you in your grief.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jenny. 💕 It’s hard, but with God’s help and strength we’ve been making it through. We believe that there are more children for us on the horizon. Until then, we cling to the promise that we’ll see our son again.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading! It is hard. Thank God for Christ who gives me strength! I hope it does minister to others.

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