Remembering Kenny: God, Where Were You?

In yesterday’s post, The Joy of My Son’s Life, I recalled the life that Kenny did live, sharing some of the great memories I have of his life.  With this post I want to share the dark and difficult part of the story, Kenny’s death.

The day was Friday, August 2, 2002.  Laura and I brought Kenny home believing he was as healthy as a healthy baby could be.  Obviously that was not the case.  About an hour later Kenny suddenly stopped breathing.  911 was called and EMS came, taking Kenny immediately to a local trauma center.  Laura and I quickly followed and were eventually joined at the trauma center by many friends, who all were praying for Kenny.

Then, about an hour later, after exhausting every means to resuscitate Kenny with no avail, out came the doctor.  His words were shattering.  I remember them like they were yesterday.  “I’m sorry, we have pronounced your son dead.”

And with those eight simple words, a darkness came over me that would remain for nearly a year and a half.

The doctors did allow Laura and I to come in and hold our son, or his body, one last time.  Laura did not stay long but I couldn’t leave.  My son was gone.  And all of those prayers…where did they go.  Where was God when my son was dying?  How can this be happening?  Is this really happening?

I never doubted the existence of God and as strange as it may sound, seeing my son’s lifeless body only enhance my belief in God’s existence.  You see, life is not simply a matter of biology.  While all people are physical specimens, we all have an “image” which makes us uniquely human with all of our beauty and goodness as God’s creation.  That was gone, missing from my son’s lifeless body.  Did that just appear by accident or was it the image of God, created by God?

I was convinced that Kenny’s life – from the miracle of his birth (all births are miracles, are they not?) to the beauty that made him uniquely Kenny, that gave him glory and honor (cf. Ps 8:5) – was evidence of God’s existence.  But where was God when we needed him the most, when Kenny needed him the most?

That first night after Kenny’s death, I was awakened from my sleep due to my crying.  The anguish was so great that my stomach began to crap up as though it was being tied into knots and I had trouble catching my breath.  I remember asking “why?” when my son was so innocent…he didn’t deserve this.

The question of why began haunting me.  What happened to all of those prayer’s for Kenny that Laura and I and many other had prayed?  Did God hear them?  Did they matter to God?  Such questions crippled my faith because I could not resolve the tension that these unanswered questions left with all of my grief and pain.

It was difficult to carry on while trying to believe that there was any reason to have hope.  Yet to remain in that place of such darkness was to accept that life was hopeless and that seemed even more unbearable.

In tomorrow’s post I will share how discovered hope and had my faith renewed.  But for now, I want to recognize the importance of this place in the journey.  It has been ten years since Kenny’s death and I still do not have the answer to many of my “why” questions.  That is, I don’t know why Kenny died, just as I don’t know why suffering exists (and I’m skeptical of those who so easily claim to know).  However, when people endure such tragedies, this stepping into the darkness with the deep questions of faith is so necessary and acceptable if we are to discover faith and hope again.  For in between that Friday when Jesus was crucified and that Easter Sunday when he was resurrected is a very long and dark  Saturday, when the prayer of “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps 22:1; Mk 15:34) is met with the silence of God.

In that moment, I had to step forward in trying to find God in all of this.  I was scared as I did not want to lose my faith and yet I felt like I had very little faith. Even worse, the more I stepped forward the more the haunting the darkness seemed as the questions came with me.  However, in looking back ten years afterwards, I can say that when in darkness , if we will have the faith to step into that darkness then we will reach that place where the darkness gives way to The Light.


This video is of the song “Can You Here Me?” by Mark Schultz.  Although the song was written about a mother and father who’s child was sick with cancer, the song captures exactly how I felt after Kenny’s death.


See also part 1 and 3 of this “Remembering Kenny” trilogy:


6 responses to “Remembering Kenny: God, Where Were You?

  1. Thank you for sharing, Rex.

  2. Rex, we can never get all the answers to our “whys” and although I have witnessed miracles by God and His divine intervention, not all times did it seem like He answered my prayers. I believe that’s because His answers were different than the way I had envisioned them to be. I was blessed to hear you share your story about your baby Kenny, at our small group, and I remember thinking how sad that was, and another reason to have gratitude. I have heard others share about how a particular circumstance brought them to a place of doubt, fear, and even anger toward God. It used to make me wonder how one can claim such Faith one moment, and then in their most darkest moment, question it. In conversation with other believers, I was really adamant about how I could never see myself losing faith even in the most extreme of circumstances. I couldn’t help say to myself, “If I have faith, then I have trust too that God loves me so much”. I can’t help but reflect on the sacrifice God made on our behalf when He sent His only son to the cross, and be strengthened even more in that love and trust in God. Of course that was until I had come face to face my very own experience, which I openly shared at our small group, where I was selfish in what I wanted from God. I almost went to that place I adamently said I would never go. Riddled with fear, and feeling powerless, I finally surrendered. I let go. I absolutely had to or it would cripple my faith. I knew that fear and lack of faith would be a wall between me and God and an opportunity for the adversary. I had finally fully surrendered to God and my prayers changed as a result of that. Instead of asking God to change the very thing that was weighing heavy on my heart, and make it all go away, even though I knew He could do that and I selfishly wanted that so bad, I asked that He would continue to bless me with strenght and courage. I asked God to divorce me from the fear and doubt I had, and most importantly, that I would continue to Love and trust Him NO MATTER WHAT happened. Why did I pray for that? I had to. I had to because I knew there was a possibility my faith would be rocked to the core, if God’s answer didn’t align with my request. That I might be in the very same place I could not wrap myself around, a place of doubt, and abadonment. That thought frightened me. Would I ever look back. YIKES! Now I truly have a bigger and better respect, as well as a compassion, for those who have questioned their faith, because it can happen, it is real. I cannot say with certainty that I would never be in any situation that would have me doubt my faith (I’m careful to never say never). Right now in my relationship with God, it doesn’t seem possible, but I don’t know what tests God may think I need to endure, to really allow me to see and know my Faith. We also have the enemy who will do anything to cause us to stumble. I try to seek God in all things, good and bad, grand and tiny. My experience so far is that as a result of my most difficult trials and tribulations, I was better equipped to do God’s work and serve others, thus giving God His diserved glory. I can’t think of anything harder than losing a child. I was trying to empathize with your feelings and what it must have been like to receive such devastating news. To hear those words. Oh my goodness. My thoughts and prayers are with you not only on the anniversary of your son’s passing, but always. You are a light, and a light very much needed in some very dark places.

    • Stacy,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I understand your asking God to divorce you from the fear and give you strength and courage as a way of walking in the darkness until you find that place where the light begins to shine again.

      Any ways, tomorrow post (the third part of the story) will be how I found hope and a renewed faith again.

      Grace and Peace,


  3. Pingback: Remembering Kenny: God Spoke and Hope Emerged | Kingdom Seeking

  4. Pingback: Remembering Kenny: The Joy of My Son’s Life! | Kingdom Seeking

  5. Pingback: Be A Missionary | Kingdom Seeking

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