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February 21, 2017

Unexpected Grace

By Annie Garman

When I got pregnant in early 2010, I feared that something was wrong with our baby.  Perhaps it was because I was meeting more and more parents of children with health issues.  It felt like only a matter of time before it was our turn.

On March 29th, 2010 at the 20-week ultrasound, my biggest fear collided with reality.  Less than a minute after we were told it was a girl, the doctor got quiet and somber.  Something was wrong with our baby’s heart. 

In the months following this, questions began to emerge in my heart.  Was God just?  Was God good?  I had always believed He was, but for the first time I really wondered.

Grace in the Midst of Suffering

I prayed for a miraculous healing and even tried to have faith that He would do it (in case that was the missing ingredient).  But when she was born with only half of a heart, we had to accept that God wanted to reveal himself in a different way than just performing a miracle.  He wanted us to walk the path of having a child with a serious medical condition. 

I desired to steward the suffering well.  I just didn’t know how I would. 

Eight days after Gracie Garman was born, she was scheduled to have her first open-heart surgery.  I woke up early that morning and, as I got ready, I had a thought that was so loud it stopped me in my tracks.  The thought was, “You should write all of this down.”

I immediately thought about all the parents in the hospital that I’d spent time with the past week.  I thought about how desperately they needed the good news of Jesus to inform their thinking about their current situation.  I wanted at that moment to record all that we were about to go through in an effort to point people to Christ. 

Little did I know how hard that would be. 

Gracie survived her first open-heart surgery, but the other baby down the hall with a similar heart defect didn’t.  Gracie made it through her next surgery, but her roommate did not. 

I flailed, and I flailed hard.  Never in my sheltered life had I ever been exposed to such suffering.  I questioned God’s goodness and the cracks in my faith were utterly exposed.  But now, I was trapped because I felt strongly called to document it in a book for all to see. Through all the pain and uncertainty, God has used the suffering to bring me to a new place of trust in Him.  I had heard that He was good, but now I have seen.  I had heard that he was faithful, but now I have tasted.

In the past five years of Gracie’s life, God has proven Himself to me.  Despite all my questions and doubt, He hasn’t left me fatherless. I don’t have all the answers, but I am convinced more than ever that God is good.   And, because He is good, He can be trusted. 

God might not call you to write a book about your suffering, but He will call you to steward your suffering well.  Don’t be afraid to share your story, share your pain, share your questions, and share how God has sustained you through it all.  God can recycle and use all of it for His glory.

You can read more about my story by clicking here


Annie Garman

Annie B. Garman is a pastor’s wife and mother to four excitable girls, and author of Unexpected Grace: When Your Child is Born With Half a Heart. She and her family serve at Pillar Church in Northern Virginia where the traffic is thick, but the church planting opportunities abound. Their network of churches is attempting to plant a reproducible gospel-centered church at every Marine Corps base around the world (praetorianproject.org). Her biggest passion is to know Christ and make Him known in whatever situation she finds herself in. Annie shares her thoughts on motherhood, mayhem, and the meaning of life at anniebgarman.com.


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