Baby Lewiston's Good, Angry Mother

Jessica Olstad

Baby Lewiston is one awfully cute baby. Wow. All babies are special, but this little guy is picture-perfect.

He seems to be perfect, that is. But as a recent Context segment shows, he has a terrible neurological problem (SMA Type 1) that almost certainly will take his life before his second birthday.

Baby Lewiston has a good mom. Spend five minutes with her, and you can see that. She keeps him close without smothering him. She can talk to the interviewer while never losing touch with her boy. She loves her husband and is determined to let nothing break their marriage: not a broken tiny son; not even a broken heart.

And Lewiston’s mom trusts God—the God who let her precious baby’s body fail to generate some pretty basic proteins, a failure that invariably leads to increasing motor loss and eventual death.

She trusts this God—the God who has let it happen and is still letting this happen, when he could have prevented it and even now could alter it with a miracle.

No wonder that Lewiston’s mom says she is angry with God. She believes in God so rightly and thoroughly that she knows exactly whom to blame, unlike those would-be defenders of God who say, “God wants everything to be good, but can’t make it so” (When Bad Things Happen to Good People), which makes God out to be horrifyingly hapless.

Perhaps even worse, others will try to comfort her by saying, “God loves your baby so much that God wants Lewiston home with him,” which makes God out to be unspeakably selfish.

No, Baby Lewiston has a good mom. And like good people throughout history, and throughout the Bible itself, she gets angry with God in the face of horrible suffering.
“How could you do this?” is a perfectly appropriate question for God, even when we know we likely won’t get an answer.

For God doesn’t always connect the dots, show us the outcomes, and demonstrate why this Bad Thing had to happen in order that a Greater Good would come.

But that’s why Christians go to church, in churches with crosses on them and in them. They worship a God whose own Son was doomed to die a premature death, having done nothing to deserve it. They venerate a God who submits to suffering, and even submits his favourites to suffering, in order to produce a more beautiful, more joyful outcome than would be possible if God didn’t.

That’s the Christian hope. The hope that none of this suffering is meaningless, and that all of it—including every moment of Baby Lewiston’s distress and every moment of his parents’ agony—counts for good.

And she believes that there are worse things for the Christian than death, or grieving the death of a loved one: failing to do our part when we are called by God to contribute something difficult to God’s difficult project of saving the world.

And she believes that death is not the end. She will see her little guy again, and forever.

Lewiston’s good mom may never know why she, and her husband, and her family, and her baby had to suffer so much. But she knows that suffering, including the suffering of her own God, has been necessary to accomplish what simply must be done.

So she is understandably angry on behalf of her loved ones, since that anger comes from a protective, loving heart.

And she believes, and trusts, and obeys anyway, because she believes in the one God who knows exactly how she feels, and who is doing everything possible to make sure that as soon as possible no one will ever, ever have to feel this way again.

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John G. Stackhouse, Jr., PhD, serves as the Samuel J. Mikolaski Professor of Religious Studies at Crandall University in Moncton, New Brunswick. A graduate of Queen’s University, Wheaton Graduate School, and the University of Chicago, he was formerly Professor of Religion at the University of Manitoba and held the Sangwoo Youtong Chee Chair of Theology and Culture at Regent College, Vancouver. He has given interviews to ABC, NBC, CBC, CTV, and Global TV as well as to CBC Radio from coast to coast. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times Literary Supplement, The Globe and Mail, the National Post, The Atlantic, Time, and Maclean’s. Author of over 700 articles, book chapters, and reviews, his tenth book is scheduled for release later this year: “Why You’re Here: Ethics for the Real World” (Oxford University Press).


  1. I'm sorry, Lisa and yetigirl, I find your inference here that it is perhaps something the mom did wrong which caused her son to have his horrific disease to be terribly insulting. SMA is a genetic disease. Which means her and her husband were carriers of the gene, which then showed up in the DNA of their son. It was nothing they did or could have done to prevent it. They are some of the most gracious, loving and God-fearing people I know. They were 'angry' with God in a totally normal, human way. But they certainly didn't dwell in that anger. They demonstrated amazing faith in God and joy through suffering. They prayered for a miracle because they believe God can do anything and He could heal their son. But He didn't. And we don't know why. And it's not because they didn't trust Him. Even though the faced the unimaginable- losing a child - they still praise God for his life and chose to bless others through his legacy. #loveforlewiston

  2. I agree with lisa, don't be angry at God. I have been angry with God so many times and I have found that it really wasn't God's fault that these things happen it was our fault when we decided that we new best and we sinned. God might have a perfectly good reason why He is taking your son away. We just don't understand God so we become angry with Him.

  3. God gave you a gift it's not God you should be angry with. If We do everything while we're pregrnant to take care of ourselfs eathing right than it's not our fault or Gods IF We are right with god the abundly he blesses us. He gave you a child to love and to care for as he loves you. God says those who are strong in faith with survive and trust him completly. The evnoriment factors are affecting us all our health our foods and our air what we breathe in what we may not know it or to blame God for something he didn't do and if you have faith in God and believe he can heal your child with an who hearted sincere heart and love he will heal if you ask him too. Have prayer always helps he does answer prayers it's up to God and you Don"t Blame God cause you child is sick.

    James 5:15 - And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

  4. This site was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me.
    Many thanks!

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