I cannot express how grateful we are for the encouraging texts, phone calls, and emails we’ve received since our daughter went into the ICU on Easter morning. People have shared personal stories of their own experiences which have strengthened us, and we have also heard from people who say that the Lord has used our experience this week to bolster their faith. God is truly at work for the good of those who love Him through this ordeal.
We have had a share of trials as well. As is expected, a Christian couple exalting God publicly will come under the attack of God’s enemies. But God’s faithfulness has been clear through demonstrations of providence, perseverance in the faith, and sanctification. God the Holy Spirit is always active in His people and we have hope because of His unlimited power.
An Update on Bailey
If you haven’t read my previous post, you can see some background here. As of April 13, 2023, we have disappointing news. Bailey’s brain has sustained a lot of damage. The MRI shows pervasive damage to her cortex, which confirms what we see behaviorally which is that she is unresponsive to pain and even some basic reflexes. She is in a coma and although she may awake, it is all but certain that she will never be “herself” again. The parts of the brain that are needed for high-level functions are (from a medical perspective) irreversibly damaged.
We are now faced with overwhelming decisions about her care. I would appreciate your continued prayer for wisdom. I am also asking that you would pray that God would put all of us who care about Bailey of a single mind! Many people love Bailey dearly and have poured into her life, and I wish we would somehow by the power of God be of one accord.
Every person has emotions. Emotions are normal and I will even say “Good.” God made us to have emotions; even people who are not described as “emotional.” The question is not whether you are emotional or not, but whether you take every thought captive to obey Christ and properly manage your emotions.
This trial has been a case study of how to biblically express and process emotions. There is a lot of theology you learn by hearing in the Christian religion. And you should be regularly imbibing the Holy Scriptures and sitting under the preaching of God’s Word at a New Testament local church. But it is often through the application of those principles so deftly taught by men of God in the pulpit that we truly grow in the wisdom God commands us to learn (Romans 12:2).
One of the hardest emotions to manage is that of anger. Anger can be righteous or unrighteous. The challenge for the Christian is to properly control anger by directing it toward the proper object and keeping it in the right proportion to the offense.
Fools give full vent to their anger; godly men and women express it in a healthy way that glorifies God in a way that “just stuffing it” doesn’t accomplish. Pretending to not be angry when you are only leads to resentment and bitterness (or a blowup). Allowing yourself to lose self-control and become intoxicated by your anger is called a fit of rage and is condemned as well.
One of the people Erin and I are angry with is Bailey. There is a pile of unresolved conflict which I have been praying for reconciliation for for years now, and then there’s the current situation where we as her parents are now forced into thoroughly painful decisions.
So we have prayed and cried, prayed some more, and cried some more. Sometimes while sitting with her, we’ll just look at her and admonish her. It’s strange because she cannot hear us, and we know that, but she’s also still there physically. And then we cry because we already miss her. We have continually begged God to forgive her of all her sins. As Allen Nelson told me this week, He has the power to do all His holy will desires.
We are confused. We don’t have all the answers. We are resting on the Rock that is Christ, and His immutability is the greatest comfort to us. We are sure of His perfect love toward all those who repent and trust in Christ.
People say things like “Parents should never have to go through this.” This is true, but at the same time, isn’t the central point of the gospel that God sent His Only Son into the world to be the savior of the world?
If Jesus Christ suffered the curse of the law for His elect, why would we expect this sin-cursed world to be devoid of difficulty? God didn’t spare His own Son. We must suffer as well if we expect to be glorified by Him.
What I want to encourage you about is that being faithful doesn’t mean stuffing emotions but capturing those emotions and evaluating them biblically. It means taking anger and either repenting of it or processing it in a godly way. It means crying when you’re sad, yet confessing that God is good and right the entire time.
It’s painful to lose a child. Bailey is not dead, but our Bailey as we know her is gone.
Jesus Christ was raised from the dead though, and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. God forgives sinners on the basis of Christ having made atonement for him. Repent and believe the gospel, today, dear friend. Receive and rest upon Jesus Christ as he is offered to us in the gospel. He is the only redeemer of God’s elect, who being the eternal son of God became man, and so was and continueth to be God and man with two distinct natures, in one person forever.
More Acts of Providence
The sheer number of people who have expressed their love and help to us is astounding. The internet is a horrible place, but Christians can use it for good. Tonight, a nurse walked into the waiting room looking for us. He wanted to tell us that he was at church last night at the weekly prayer meeting and someone brought up Bailey for prayer. He ended up assigned to her section.
So a man we don’t know was praying for Bailey yesterday with a whole church of people who don’t even know us. We are humbled and grateful.
I also ask for prayer for the evangelism which has occurred this week. We have been a testimony to everyone we meet. I have handed out dozens of tracts. I’ve prayed with people in the hospital. We have witnessed to nurses and doctors. They’ve seen us emote, and they’ve watched our interactions as husband and wife and they’ve seen our faith in action. We’d never have wished to be here, but while we are here we are missionaries to this place. May God give an increase!
Pray for us that we would continue to walk in holiness. This is a marathon. A lot of people can “be strong” for a day or two. Adrenaline will carry you through a few days with very little sleep or food.
But to continue to walk by faith we need God to work in and through us. Pray for us. Beseech the Lord that we would respond in a godly way when we encounter opposition or conflict. Pray that we’d be forgiving to those who we need to forgive. Ask God to make us repentant when we sin, seeking forgiveness from those whom we have wronged.
I feel like I have rambled here. My thoughts are scattered, even though some of them felt so articulate before trying to type them out. My brain isn’t as quick and clear as usual. Fatigue will make a coward out of any man, but it is also a good place to be to learn to rely on the Lord more. We are creatures of the flesh, and we rely on the flesh more than we realize. Thank God, He brings us to the end of our flesh, driving us to Him so that we may truly bathe in His grace and power.
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25, ESV)
5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. 6 Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. 7 In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me. (Psalm 86:5-7, ESV)
Michael Coughlin says
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory .. ( 2 Cor. 4)
The Apostle Paul was whipped 5 times, beaten with rods 3 times, and stoned and left for dead. And yet .. he called it “light affliction”
We don’t always understand our trials, but God is good, and promises to carry us through. Praying for you Brother ..
Not sure how anyone cannot be touched with the raw honesty expressed by Mr. Coughlin – the difficulty of the circumstances is extraordinary yet is met with courage, vulnerability and grace -a wonderful witness and testimony to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Continuing to pray. God bless
Michael Coughlin says
Anna Wood says
We have had family members in similar sin. If not for God’s grace… I am keeping all of you in prayer. May the Lord shower your family with wisdom, mercy, and comfort. Soli Deo Gloria
Susan Harrold says
I will pray for you all. I thank you for finding words to depict an indescribable trial. You are walking by faith, not sight and through it all exhorting us in how to actually live The Word when any strength we could muster as only humans is woefully insufficient. To God be the Glory. Forever.
Lokesh S says
Praying for you brother Michael. Thanks for your witness of the truths of scripture.
John Chisham says
Thank God for you and Erin and Bailey. God’s grace has been and will be upon you- I pray for healing for Bailey and Kylen. I pray the God of comfort and peace will bring you and your family strength in the midst of this trial and in the days, months, and years that will follow. God is good, merciful, just, and kind- and your testimony of these events give God glory and testify to these truths powerfully in the midst of your pain. Thanks be to God.
Ann Weitzel says
This blog brings such glory to GOD. Thank you for being vulnerable and transparent. HE is truly magnified.
This is supposed to be about his dying daughter …. Not god.
Praying for your family to receive strength to endure. You are an encouragement to many. Now may you receive encouragement from the Lord.
Bradee Hanks says
God bless you all as you walk through this unimaginable journey. Don’t lose sight of the fact that she may well be able to hear you. We don’t know anything for sure. And she’s in a spiritual battle too. If we could all see to the end, this isn’t what she would have chose either.
Prayers and love to all of you. Your unwavering faith is an inspiration to many. 💜
Lisakay Fryar says
I am reading this as a complete stranger. A lover of the Lord and a mother. My situation was much different I never received answers for my daughter’s medical event that left her on machines from lack of oxgyen .. brain swelling.. unsure if she would live or die.
Liza was 21 mths old was put to bed normal but before we went to bed she was found in responsive with small amount of vomit by her mouth .. Ambulance was called while we did CPR .. it was assumed she aspirated in her sleep .. I had no clue what that meant .. We prayer and reached out to many to pray.
This was December 21st 1981 .. I was a 21 yr old single not yet divorced parent .. I am sharing because when your child ends us in ICU age doesn’t matter.. We just want healing and although we have excellent Dr’s. We are at the mercy of God .. My little daughter do precious was resuscitated 3 times .. each day we faced a new situation on day 4 brain waves stopped and her organs began to shut down.. Dr’s called a meeting to ask if we wanted her on life machines or to let her expire naturally with no more intervention.
It was a hard decision one I basically had to make alone.. but God’s wisdom let me know He had the final say .. on day 5 at 3:45am .. 6 of my family surrounding praying and singing witnessed her pass from life to death .. zmy request was to hold my baby one last time before they would take her away.. they removed all tunes and dressed her in a fresh ground & diaper.. I was able to her father to see her 1st to make his amens.. Then I was able with the assistance of the nurse to hold my little daughters lifeless body on a rocking chair .. Singing, praying my final good byes until one day in heaven we will meet again. As I left the hospital after 5 days somehow although 💔 broken. Hearted I felt incredible peace .. Surely God was with me.
I wanted to share with you as you will have decisions to make also.. God is with you .. I pray a miracle for you.
As I sit here 40 yrs later .. my heart is not broken I know I my daughter Liza is with the Lord and I will see her again in heaven one day.. I never received answers to what caused her aspiration that led to lack of oxgyen and eventually death.. her official report says her heart stopped causing death.. I know all unanswered questions we will have one day..
I pray you live in peace with God knowing you did your best as I parents .. I always felt when I missed her most .. I would think she has the best baby sitter ever (Jesus) then I could breathe again.. Today I have joy knowing she is with the Lord and I will see her again ❤ I went on to remarry and have a son who will be 40 in June and a daughter 38 .. both grew up knowing they have a sister in heaven.. it wasn’t sad but joyful knowing we will all met her again one day… I pray my testimony helps you in some way to get through the days that lay ahead as Christians you know Jesus is already there knowing whatever outcome you will face .. I leave you with the love of the Lord.
Christie Aremu says
Michael, Bunmi and I have been heartbroken since finding out about Bailey. We weep alongside you and your family (Romans 12:15) and continue to pray that Christ Jesus will be your garment of praise as you endure the ashes of despair (Isaiah 61:3). May the collective prayers of the saints bring Him glory and you and your family comfort.
Michael Coughlin says
Thanks, I really enjoyed that song/video. And I know it’s true.
Priscilla Hannan says
Continued prayers for Bailey and your family. As a nurse of 33 years I have been a part of families faced with your situation. May God wrap her in his arms and comfort her and your family through this difficult time.🙏
Linda Johnson says
People in comas can hear a lot, and they can think. If her brain is badly damaged, her soul is still with her. I would not be surprised if Bailey, herself, could ask God to forgive her. God convicts us and strives with us. He loves us better than we love one another.
Levi Jarvis says
Praying for your family brother. I really needed to read this update and your writing on emotion right now as I am dealing with anger, though my situation is insignificant compared to your current hardship. Thank you for your faithfulness through this. May God greatly move in your family’s lives. Much love in Christ Jesus.
Michael & Erin,
I’m sending all my prayers, hugs And love to Bailey, you and the family. This is so hard, as I consider myself one of those people whose life has been touched and effected for the rest of my life by Bailey. She’s a part of my family. Rest assured Kylen is and will be okay. I pray that the circumstances surrounding all of this does not affect him and that he may soon forget the tragic events of that night. I’m full of emotions and leaning on Gods Will which will be done.
Continued prayers for your family and for the Lord to comfort you all.
Ricky & Elesa says
We continue to join our hearts in prayer with you for Bailey❤️
Loretta Samblanet says
I’m praying for your daughter Bailey, you and your family. My heart aches for all of you. I felt a roller coaster of emotions while reading your updates about Bailey and your testimony. It was so powerful. I cried because of the critical condition of Bailey. But I also felt joy in the faith you have in God. I cried because of the heart wrenching decisions you might have to make about the care of your daughter. And then I felt joy about your conviction and willingness to share God’s word and love with anyone who will listen. You are so right when you say that God uses our trials to help others. Thank you for sharing your need for prayers for Bailey, and your powerful testimony.
I don’t know you or your family at all. I “just happened” to see your story shared on Twitter. I can’t even respond there, as I continue to be locked out.
Thank you for continuing to stay faithful to Christ even through this grueling time. I cannot imagine how difficult and painful this is. My heart aches for your family. I am going through my mother’s recent death and now my father’s sudden/unexpected hospitalization as well. I cannot explain to you how much it strengthens me to read this and see your continue to be committed to Christ.
I don’t know much of anything these days. All I know is Christ is truly the only hope. Continue to hang on to His Word, no matter what. Where else could we possibly go in this world? There is nothing and no one else.
“After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Dear brother Mike and sister Erin,
I am praying for you both and will call upon our church to pray as well. What an amazing example of Christ, and how God uses the most difficult situations (all under His sovereignty) as a sanctifying tool in making us more like Christ. you poured out the truth with a heart of transparency, yet remained gospel-saturated, and missions oriented in the heat of the battle. This serves as a letter that many should read as they go through such trials. It’s truly sobering to my own soul. I hurt with my brother and sister that hurt, and pray for Mike and Erin to remain strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, knowing an abundance of His grace for such a time as this. May the whisper of God’s Holy Spirit come, and bring salvation, just as He did for the penitent thief beside Jesus our Savior. I love you both and will call the saints in our church to pray for you all. May you continue to be a light in the midst of darkness.