Life, loss, and God’s goodness: The story of Maddison Grace

December 12, 2018

In November 1999, my husband Craig and I received the glorious news that we were expecting our first baby. We couldn’t have been more excited. Of course, we immediately notified our family and friends and sprung into full baby preparedness mode.

Amazed by life

My pregnancy was textbook. I felt wonderful and was continually amazed at the life that was growing inside my womb. Once we learned the sex, we quickly settled on the name Maddison Grace. We were surrounded by wonderful Christian community in our neighbors, co-workers, family, and church family. As this was our first child, we were abundantly showered with everything we needed. Our baby girl was so loved, welcomed, and wanted before she even arrived.

The nine months passed quickly. My due date came and went with no signs of impending labor.  The doctor ordered a precautionary stress test. The baby was healthy, and I felt great. A friend of ours was an OB/GYN and happened to check in during my test.  I jokingly told him I wasn’t leaving the hospital until our sweet baby girl was in my arms. Apparently he passed along my wishes, so I was admitted and induced. We called everyone to let them know it was show time!

Labor progressed nicely. It wasn’t long before I was able to push. After a few pushes, Maddi’s head was crowning. The hospital staff began to prepare for her arrival. As I focused on the final push, everything suddenly changed. In an instant the monitor lost her heartbeat. The nurses became somber and began frantically relocating the sensors to no avail. In what seemed like a split second, I was in the operating room undergoing an emergency cesarean section. Thankfully, I had already received an epidural which allowed them to make the incision immediately to save our daughter. They quickly put me under with anesthesia.

Anguished by loss

My next memory was coming out of the anesthesia in the recovery room. As I opened my heavy eyes, I could vaguely make out my husband and pastor standing over me. Though they said nothing, I knew, in my heart, that Maddison did not make it. The first words out of my mouth were, “How do people survive moments like these without the Lord?” During the final push, my placenta detached from the uterine wall. Our precious baby girl was without her lifeline for too long to be resuscitated.

The nursing staff navigated the difficult circumstance with such care. They cleaned our baby girl, swaddled her, and kept her in an incubator until we were ready to see her. While this may sound morbid to some, it was a beautiful time with this gift from God we had anticipated for the past nine months. We were able to finally see her perfectly formed features and count all of her fingers and toes. We captured a few photos. They are likely my most treasured possessions on earth.

The next few days were a blur as my husband had to contact family, purchase a cemetery plot, and plan a funeral, all while taking care of me in the hospital. This is something no young couple ever plans to encounter. My initial grief was over the fact that he had to navigate this virtually alone as I was still heavily medicated. However, he exhibited such strength and courage through it all. He prepared a poignant speech to share at Maddison’s funeral. I knew it only came from Christ in him.

Sustained by our Father

While we never anticipated or pondered whether we could survive this, we had full trust in our good, good Father. His very real presence surrounded us through his Word and his church. Friends did our laundry and brought paper goods and meals. One prayed for God to burden her with some of our grief. Others planted a tree in Maddison’s memory. A neighbor mowed our lawn. Strangers wrote letters of babies they lost decades ago. We saw a grown man sob over her tiny casket and later repent for not spending more time with his family. Our names were on prayer lists across the country. Our small group came to the funeral home early so they could pray over us. We will never forget the kindness we were shown; it was overwhelming and undeserved. It was all a perfect picture of the love Christ shows to his people.

To this day, people still talk about our Maddison Grace. She was created on purpose and with purpose, no matter how brief her time. I can testify that God can and will use all things for our good and his glory. His mercies are truly new every morning. He is my Sustainer, my Comfort, my Peace. He has led me to share his goodness with many as a result of Maddi’s death. He has brought me alongside those who have suffered the same devastating loss. He tuned my heart to the gift of motherhood and called me to stay home with my subsequent children. He has allowed me platforms to be a voice for life. He has turned my sadness to joy, unspeakable joy. For that, I am eternally grateful, and I long for the day I see my beautiful daughter in the presence of my Rescuer and Redeemer.

From the tiniest unborn life to the elderly at the end of life, from immigrants and refugees to those trafficked against their will, all life matters to God. Join the ERLC in Washington, D.C. on January 17-18, 2019, for Evangelicals for Life, one of the largest gatherings of pro-life Christians in the country. Speakers include Russell Moore, J.D. Greear, Steven Curtis Chapman, Keith and Kristyn Getty, and more. Register now to join us.

Lori Bova

Lori Bova is the founder and administrator of Veritas Classical Christian Academy in Hobbs, New Mexico. More importantly, she is a follower Jesus Christ, wife, mother, and granna. Read More by this Author

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24