Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted…”
Baby Charlotte was born on April 18, 2016. She was my eighth grandchild and she stole my heart. There was so much joy when my daughter Katie and her husband, parents of three boys, found out they were having a girl. There was also great heartache when they found out their baby girl was going to face major health challenges. Charlotte spent the first five weeks of her life in the NICU. She was diagnosed with 1P36 deletion syndrome.
We knew her time with us on earth would be short, so we celebrated her life. As we did every year in late June, the entire family went to a cabin in Northern Minnesota. It was such a beautiful time together as a family and I was fortunate enough to be able to sing to and rock Charlotte, as I did all of my grandchildren.
On July 1, while still in MN, Charlotte went home to Jesus after just 75 days on earth. Despite emergency responders trying to bring her back, Charlotte’s heart simply stopped beating. Emergency crew placed her in a beautiful white blanket and a pink hat and we all, including her young brothers, got a chance to say goodbye. The most difficult part was watching my daughter place Charlotte in the vehicle to transport her to the hospital. We were heartbroken.
As the days went on, the vision of Katie saying goodbye to Charlotte would not leave my mind. As I was preparing for an already-planned mission trip to Haiti, God comforted my grieving heart through music, specifically though a song called, “Heaven is the Face of a Little Girl,” by Steven Curtis Chapman who had written the song after losing his daughter in a tragic accident. I sat in my kitchen, the song on repeat, tears streaming down my face, and begged God to help us make it through this. It was just me and God in that kitchen, powerfully connecting through song.
Ten days after Charlotte’s death, with the encouragement of my whole family, I went to Haiti to love on the children of Mercy House orphanage. After a long day, I walked across the street to get a smoothie and found out that, of all things, Steven Curtis Chapman was in Haiti and would be in that exact spot in just a few hours. To realize that God loves me so much that he would send the man who wrote the song God used to comfort me, to the exact place I was in Haiti, was so surreal!
I told Steven about Charlotte and how God had used his music to comfort my broken heart. I shared the sad memory of my daughter placing Charlotte in the vehicle and how it troubled me so much and he told me when he could finally let go of his daughter’s physical body, he knew he was placing her in the arms of Jesus. Only God knew I needed that visual!
I always knew Jesus, but I had never felt that He knew me personally the way I do now.
Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted…” and Isaiah 42:3 says, “…when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned…”. It is undeniable that God was right there with our broken hearts and stood right next to us in the fire. He knows my heart and I can cry with hope and grieve with hope because He loves me so much.