He Gives & He Takes Away
He Gives & He Takes Away
Embracing the sovereignty of God when grieving the death of a child
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“Other people’s children die; certainly not ours.”


--The Author



 arents are supposed to die before their children.  That’s the way God designed it, right?  For some parents, life doesn’t turn out that way.  Death arrived on their doorstep, taking away a child who was loved and adored.  Uncertainties about faith enter their hearts; questions about the purpose of this suffering come from their mouths: “Why my child?”  “Why would you do this to us, God?”  “How could a loving God be so cruel?”


He Gives and He Takes Away  is the story of a family whose loss of their four-year-old daughter, Hannah Marie, forced them to confront these questions.  By placing their trust in a faithful God, relying on His grace to provide strength, and finding hope for tomorrow in the Scriptures, they discovered an unexpected fruit in the midst of their trial: abundant joy.


Are you looking for a compassionate friend to

mentor you through this time of grief?



 here is always something to be learned from those who have experienced similar trials.  This intimate look into the lives of Phil and Sandy Dufrin as they worked through the pain of Hannah’s death, will help other grieving parents to find comfort and peace.  May their God-given faith inspire you to believe that no matter what trial you face, God is sovereign and works all things for His glory and for our good.


And to those whom God has spared from suffering, may the story of Hannah’s life and death help to build your faith during this “good” season, so that when the trials come, you will stand firm, giving praise and glory to Christ alone.



Jesus stretched out His arms to welcome her, and she jumped up into His embrace.  His arms enfolded her small body and held her tightly, closing his eyes and smiling as if He had just welcomed home a beloved friend after a long absence.

            The next vision I had of Hannah was of her dancing.  She twirled in circles with arms raised high, laughing wholeheartedly with delight.  Hannah’s sick body no longer kept her from fully enjoying life.  Physical limitations did not hinder her from dancing with the grace of a ballerina.  Watching my daughter move in this way made me smile.  Hannah was happy, and it pleased me to see her dancing with such joy.

            Cutting through the beauty of this image like a knife, I heard in my mind, Look at your watch.

            I didn’t find this thought to be strange or untimely.  For some reason, I was meant to recall the exact point when I visualized Hannah running to Jesus.  I stared at my watch intently, then closed my eyes to remember the time.  It was precisely 3:30 in the early morning of February 8.

            No more than a minute passed before there was a soft knock at the door.  Entering the room were Tiffany and the cardiologist, who had monitored Hannah’s care since yesterday morning.  Their sober, downcast faces already told us what they had come to say.

            “We have bad news,” the cardiologist began.  “Hannah’s heart arrested.  We did everything possible, but we lost her.  I am so sorry.”

            There was a long pause as the cardiologist waited for this news to sink in.  As much as we had pondered the possibility of death those last hours, Phil and I were in shock.  Nothing could adequately prepare us for losing our child.  Even the gradual decline of Hannah’s health had not caused us to be more accepting.  One never thinks “it” will happen to them.  Other people’s children die; certainly not ours.

Remembering the vision of Hannah with Jesus, I broke the silence and asked, “What time did she die?” 

            “Her time of death was pronounced three-thirty.”

            I nodded my head in affirmation of the vision that God had given me just a minute before.  This was the assurance I needed to know that Hannah was safe with Him in heaven.  A child that the Lord graciously gave us to raise for four short years had been taken away to an eternal home prepared just for her.  An unexpected incident from our perspective, but planned by God before the foundation of the world.


Sandy Dufrin describes herself as an ordinary mother and homemaker.  She and her husband, Phil, have six children—five living on earth and one who looks down from heaven.  Sandy is passionate about passing down a biblical worldview to the next generation.  She enjoys teaching children’s Sunday school and has been a leader of various women’s Bible studies throughout the years.  Phil works as a software developer and is active as an elder in their church.  He has been given several opportunities to share the story of Hannah and preach the gospel in a variety of settings.  The Dufrins make their home in Williamston, Michigan, a small town near Lansing.



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