Neil Hoffman was home caring for his three oldest sons, Gavin, 5, Josiah, 3, and Landon, 2, while his wife Heather was at the hospital with their newborn Ryden. Dad had just put his children to bed when he found himself on the kitchen floor.
“I remember breaking down and crying out to God saying, ‘Why are you allowing this to happen?’” he said. “I love you God. Nothing is going to change my love for you. Nothing will change. You have stolen my heart.”
He begged God for an explanation on why Ryden was facing catastrophic brain damage after his mother’s uterus ruptured during the home birth. The grieving Dad wanted to understand the whys so that he could be strong for his family.
At that moment, a text arrived from friend.
“It wasn’t just an encouraging text, I’m telling you it was the very voice of God that hit my heart,” Neil said. “It read, ‘The hardest part about surrendering is our need to understand, but you can’t fully surrender until you say, ‘God, I don’t need to understand.’”
Neil’s mind immediately flashed to Isaiah 55:9:
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
After receiving the text, Neil said he realized that God was asking him to “Trust in me and not in the ways I work, not in what you expect me to do, because I am not limited in what you expect me to do. I have much better things.”
“When I did that all of a sudden my eyes were open. Fear and worry and brokenness started breaking off of me and I was able to see things so different.”
Heather had her own encounter with the Lord after asking Him what her son would have been like without brain damage?
“What would his personality have been like?” she asked her maker.
“The Lord spoke to me firmly and strongly, yet lovingly, saying, ‘Don’t you, the clay, say to me, the Potter, “Why did You make this vessel this way?” I make my vessels with a purpose. So don’t you look around at all these other vessels and say, “Why isn’t mine like that?” Because this one has a different purpose. This boy, with this body and this mind, was created to do exactly what I want him to do. That’s why he is this way.’
“From that moment on I experienced a freedom I’ve never known before. We absolutely believe there never was any other Ryden Joshua, that this is the life that our sovereign, perfect God had purposed this precious boy to live.”
Heather admits that some people have been openly critical about their decision to have a home birth.
“I’ve even heard, ‘Stupid home births’ or ‘That would’ve never happened if this took place in a hospital.’ I’ve heard it all. And I understand it; that’s the natural way of thinking.”
Despite the criticism, Heather, who explained that they try to live their lives supernaturally as led by the Lord, said they have not second-guessed their decision in the home delivery.
“I know we were led by the Lord to be home so that many people would be watching carefully to see what happened with this birth, because God wanted Ryden to save my life, so that even more people would have their full attention on this little boy be born dead and then resurrected and healed in a way that could only be possible due to a miracle-working God that hears and answers the prayers of His saints!” Heather said.
Born dead | Baby defies odds after traumatic delivery