Photo credit: Gage Skidmore
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

(Des Moines, IA) Frank Luntz, the moderator of the Presidential Family Forum on Friday night, asked former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) if there was ever a time he cursed God.

I was surprised by the question because I thought it was deeply personal, and not exactly an aspect of one’s life that a candidate would want to put on full display.  Santorum gave a graceful answer to that question that I found very encouraging and inspiring. It also sheds light into the depth of his character.

Here’s a transcript:

I often give a testimony that when I came to the United States Senate I found the Lord. I know most of you don’t think He is there, but He is. And it is really true. I really came alive in my faith and in my relationship with Jesus Christ when I came to the United States Senate, and two people had a profound effect on me including a third which of course was my wife Karen who walked on that journey with me.

But when I did find the Lord I found myself in a situation where I felt called to take up issues that I vowed I would never do before, and one of them was the issue of life. It just so happened that the issue of partial-birth abortion was on the floor of the Senate at the time and President Clinton had vetoed it, and the person who was supposed to override that veto – fight for it – was a senator from New Hampshire who was up for re-election and he didn’t want to do it because New Hampshire is a tough state, as we all know, on that issue. And so no one else wanted to take it, and I was growing in my faith and felt called to do something, and long story short, I ended up managing a bill, after having spent five years in the House and Senate never saying the word ‘abortion’ – refused to say it. But I walked that journey with a lot of faith, trying to follow what God was calling me to do.

I’ll never forget, the last day of the vote, Diane Feinstein got up and talked about how we have to keep this procedure legal because late in pregnancy, sometimes women would find out that their child would have no eyes or no ears or be blind or lame or have a cleft palate – I mean, she listed all these things. And I got up and said, you know, my wife is pregnant – 20 weeks old – and we have a sonogram in a few days and I don’t know whether our child is perfect or not but they’re no less of a child if they have some sort of disability. Well, a few days later, we lost that vote. I poured everything into it. I never felt better, that I was doing what I was being called to do.

And we went to that sonogram and I’ll never forget the sonographer going over Karen’s abdomen and looking up to us and saying, ‘Your child has a fatal defect and is going to die.’ Our little kids were there at the time and they didn’t know what was going on, but they knew their mommy and daddy were crying. We rushed out of that room and we got in the car and I tried to drive home but I couldn’t. All I could do was cry, and speak bitterly to a God who I thought was calling me. And this was His answer: He was going to take my son. So no, I was not happy with God. This newfound friendship was not as easy a course as I thought. We did everything we could. We resolved we would not lose our son. We had intrauterine surgery, something very experimental, and it worked – except three days later Karen got an infection and he was delivered at 21 weeks. We were blessed he was born alive. And we had the opportunity to hold him for two hours in which he knew only love. Then he passed in our arms.

I was very angry with God. But I was blessed. I was blessed with a wife who, while angry, poured that anger out on pages in letters to him, explaining her love – our love – for him. I was equally blessed to have a mother-in-law who encouraged her to publish that book. And that book took pain and horror and turned it into something beautiful. The book ‘Letters to Gabriel’ sold thousands, tens of thousands of copies, saved I don’t know how many lives. People wrote us and told us that what we went through – our pain – gave them the courage to save the lives of their children. And so what I learned was, if you are faithful, God will be faithful.

God has a purpose and a plan in the midst of the hardest circumstances. We won’t always, actually we usually won’t, recognize what that is as we go through it. We may never realize it until eternity.

Here’s the video of that question and then Santorum’s answer.

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