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Those were the words God spoke to me as I struggled to comprehend the news your father had just spoken to me. Earlier that week my brain had filled with cerebral spinal fluid and the pressure had become so intense that it pinched off blood flow from vessels to my brain and caused a rare type of stroke called a CVST. I had been unconscious for the majority of the last five days, waking only long enough to plead with the hospital staff for more pain medicine. In that time frame, there had been diagnostic tests with radiation, brain convulsions, unbelievably violent vomitting, scads of narcotics and opiates to ease the most excruciating pain I had ever felt in my life, and I hadn’t been able to eat or drink a thing to support a little growing life with the nutrients it would need.
Because we lost a child early on before, without any obvious explanation, I could not fathom that in spite of all these circumstances, that your Dad’s words were true. “Yes. They did. They saw the heart beating.” When they had done the ultrasound almost a week earlier, I had been unconscious and until this point, I had only been vaguely aware that it was even done.
Before this horrific pain had come over me, your dad and I were so nervous about the frailty of your little life that we meticulously tried to protect you from any kind of harm. In this position though, I was powerless to protect you . Your well-being was completely and entirely out of my hands. Because of this, I had, with a broken heart, resigned myself to losing you. In those snippets of consciousness, I had “given you back to God” and was coming to grips with the fact that I would never get to hold you and that you would be joining your older sibling in the presence of Jesus. When your dad told me your heart was beating, I was both dumbfounded and skeptical. He insisted to me however that you were in there, hanging on, tiny heart pounding away, and then he showed me your picture. You looked like a little seahorse, so tiny they couldn’t even measure you.
But they saw your heart beating.
That was when God told me your name.
God wasn’t merely giving me a cosmetic label for people to call you. He was telling me about who you were and what you would become. He was issuing a blessing on this tiny person within me. Zane means “God’s gracious gift.” Your first name, was for me and Dad. Having struggled with the inability to have children, and the loss of your older sibling, we knew that if God was ever to put life in my womb, it would be because He granted that gift. We live in a world with amazing technology and doctors have all kinds of science to “give” people a baby… but the truth is, unless God breathes life into someone’s womb, no amount of money or medical advancements can give that to you. When your dad and I saw those beautiful pink lines on a positive test, we knew you were a gracious gift from God. So God gave you the name “Zane” for us; to remind us always, that you are “God’s gracious gift.” to us.
To God however, you are “Benaiah.” When I think about how God chose this name specifically for Him to refer to you, I am filled with such wonder. There is so much packed into that name, and I knew immediately, that God was telling me who this amazing little baby within me was. II Samuel 23:22 tells us that among other things, Benaiah, slew a lion in a pit in the time of snow. He ranked among the top of David’s mighty men and all of his feats reflect a man that overcomes great odds with might and strength. The mere fact that you exist at all is evidence of this same type of odds-defeating found in your namesake. Your dad and I were coming to the end of the year doctors had given us before telling us they could do no more. Not able to bear the emotional strain of hearing those words, I cancelled all of my appointments and quit taking all of the medicine they had given me. Our pastor, Rev. Thomas Peretic, without knowing any of this, came into my office one day and prophesied that God would do it. Two weeks later, I was staring in disbelief, at a positive pregnancy test. Medically, you should not exist. There were far too many obstacles for a baby to simply be conceived.
After that, I got dreadfully sick. We didn’t know it at the time, but my brain filled up with fluid, causing the most agonizing, incessant pain in my head I have ever experienced in my life. I suffered stroke-like symptoms that scared both of us. Neither we or the doctors knew what was wrong. I took heavy and frequent doses of strong pain killers and spent weeks with so little strength that I could not dress myself, bath myself or brush my own hair. I was hospitalized four times for violent and continuous vomiting. I lost my eye sight, coordination, and some functions of my brain. It was the scariest thing in the world to open your eyes and be struck with violent and excruciating pain and vomiting simply because your brain could not process what it was seeing. This went on for so long that I wondered if I would come out of it alive, let alone you- a tiny vulnerable little child in my womb. You were exposed to the stress my body was under, the steady stream of pain killers, I wasn’t able to nourish you with food. The recovery was painfully slow, and it took 4 and 1/2 months before I felt “normal” again. To this day I am in complete awe that you are still here. I feel you kicking and squirming this very moment. I don’t think I’ll ever, in all the days I live, truly get over the amazement that you are here. From that moment your dad told me they saw your heart beating, to the moment I saw it flickering on the screen myself a week later, to each appointment where we got to hear it over and over, to the day they told me what I already knew- that you were a little boy… to every kick and squirm I feel within me… I am amazed that you are here.
That name, “Benaiah” isn’t just a namesake of a powerful, mighty man of valor in the Bible. It literally means “God has built.” This is true, not only of your very impossible beginnings, but God pushed aside all of the influences that should have injured and destroyed you, and simply built. I don’t believe this “building” ceases with the formation and development in the womb. I believe that all of your days, God will build you. That you will grow from a baby to a boy to a man that God has His hand on continually.
I’ll close this letter with this thought. Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain which build it.” God is your Maker son. Not merely a Creator, but a shaper, a molder and a builder. As you grow through the years, my prayer is that you’ll always remember His role in that process. That you’ll never forget that without Him, you are nothing. That no matter what odds you defeat, and what levels of impossibility you overcome throughout your days,( and I can’t wait to see them) that you’ll never forget that it was not you… it was God. It was God empowering you and enabling you to be that mighty warrior. It was God that breathed life into an empty womb and God that caused you to overcome all of the danger you were faced with. It was God that brought you from that tiny little form we saw in those first pictures, to the strong little boy that takes my breath away with your vigorous kicks. It is God that will bring you to a healthy delivery, raise you in might through childhood, and crown you with valor in manhood. In both of your names, God is an inextricable factor. You are “God’s gracious gift” and “God has built.” You cannot remove Him from who you are. There is no gracious gift without the Giver… there is nothing built without the Builder. May you always remember that God is first, that He is everything, and without Him, we are nothing.
Love forever and always,