For the past several weeks, the world has been captivated by the tragic case of gravely ill baby Charlie Gard and his parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates. After months spent in and out of court rooms, fighting for the right to explore a potentially life-saving treatment for their son, Gard and Yates announced this week that their fight will soon be coming to an end.
It’s hard to look at a case like Charlie’s and think of it as anything but a tragedy, a loss. But, as Faithwire’s Billy Hallowell has noted, this story teaches us a lot about hope. Given this, there are many lessons we can learn from Charlie’s fight.
I’ve been following Charlie’s story since early June. During this time I’ve learned, or perhaps re-learned, one important lesson: We all have a lot less control than we think.
Charlie’s parents could have (and many would argue should have) had more control over their child’s medical care. But they couldn’t ultimately change the fact that he was born with a terminal illness. Even if they had been allowed to pursue experimental treatments for Charlie abroad, there was never a guarantee that Charlie’s condition would improve.
I’m not arguing that the Gard family shouldn’t have had this opportunity — for the record, I believe they absolutely should have. What I am suggesting, however, is that one of the reasons this story resonates with so many people is that it reflects certain truths about human life, justice, and our own lack of control.
Parenthood is, for many, the first time we realize we’re not in control. As an expecting mother (whose baby boy is expected to arrive any day now), this reality hit me the moment I saw those two pink lines on my at-home pregnancy test. My immediate joy was coupled with immediate fear and worry over the fragile life forming inside of me. It hit me again at the seven-week ultrasound, when I heard the sweet heartbeat of a child who was at the time the size of a pea.
Parents know better than most what it’s like to feel utterly helpless. Women miscarry, kids hurt themselves, tragic accidents happen. Throughout this pregnancy, I’ve learned to accept my personal lack of control as a mother by putting my trust in a God who is in control. I’d like to say this is because I’m a good Christian, but truth be told, it’s because I’d be a nervous wreck if I didn’t surrender my pride and protective maternal instinct to the one who loves both me and my child more than I could ever imagine.
Charlie Gard’s parents really know the helpless feeling of trying everything to ensure the health and wellbeing of their child, only to have the door slammed in their faces over and over again. They are right to feel betrayed, and just plain sad, about the events surrounding their son’s short life. But there is comfort even for parents like the Gards, who feel like they’ve lost everything.
Human beings and institutions, however powerful and corrupt, can never take away the fact that God has a plan and a purpose for every one of us. Even when we’re faced with grave injustice, like many believe the Gards were, God is still ultimately just and in control, and we should take comfort in that.
Charlie’s death will not be in vain, and it is because he is of inestimable and immutable worth. Were this not true, the world wouldn’t be grieving with the Gard family right now.
Moving forward, I would encourage Chris Gard, Connie Yates, and parents around the world to lean on a God who is in total control, and to claim His peace.
I’ll leave you, reader, with the words of the Apostle Peter:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
May the Gard family find comfort during this difficult time, and may Charlie rest in the eternal splendor of the one who created him.