This morning I played with my girls outside the fountain at our church. Eric snapped a few pictures of us, and it was a blissful Mother’s Day morning. Full of all the gratitude, nostalgia, and warm feeling that accompany the sentiment of the day. But I’m always reminded that this day is painful for some – for those who have a deep longing to be a mom, but for a myriad of reasons are not.
So I thought it would be appropriate day to share on this blog something I wrote four years ago. I had just miscarried our first baby. We would later find out through genetic testing that she was a little girl and name her Elizabeth Alane. Jesus so carried me through that miscarriage and the one that would follow, as he carries me through the joy and exhaustion on motherhood now. Be encouraged sweet friend who is not yet a mom, you are not alone.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
I had debated whether to share my sonogram publicly. While I was so excited about the new life in my body, I wasn’t sure about sharing it with everyone. Now, the answer is clear. It’s the only way you or I will ever know my child. When this was taken, the baby was measuring 7 weeks, 3 days. The heart beat was a strong 130 beats per minutes. The sac the baby was swimming in was a little flat, and they said they needed to “watch” it – not necessarily problematic but something to watch – but I was comforted to hear the baby was strong.
Two weeks later, Eric and I bounded in to our next sonogram. We’d started brainstorming boys’ names, as I already had a beautiful girl’s name picked out. Eric and I had picked out a theme for the nursery he wanted to paint. I was praying that my child would be a child who would know God, treasure His word, and be rooted in the love of Christ. But when we went in for the sonogram, the tech wouldn’t turn the sonogram screen toward me. I was eager to see if the sac had become more round, as I’d had no signs of trouble in the last two weeks. The longer it took her to turn the screen, the more I began to breathe deeply. I didn’t pray a clear prayer to God with words I can remember, but I was talking to Him. The word “peace” stands out in my mind. She then told us there was no heart beat.
I am heartbroken for the loss of our child. I grieve that I will never know this child. That I won’t get the chance to raise this child in love, and to see Eric shine as just an incredible father to this baby. I’ve cried a lot the past couple of days, but I have not despaired. I’m sharing this painful moment with you in obedience, because I think God wants me to share why I have not despaired:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers they will not overflow you; When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I have not for a minute felt abandoned by God. The comfort of Scripture has flowed through me, and I am confident that He is walking with me through my pain. Even as I fell in to Eric’s arms sobbing as the tech gave us a moment alone, and then prayed “God, help me, help me” I knew He completely understood all the implications of my simple prayer. He has not left us. I am so grateful that I know God’s word and verses like the one of above that I could quickly call to memory and remind myself that God is here.
In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.
I like to listen to sermons by Matt Chandler, and he often talks about walking through times of sorrow, and that if you haven’t walked through sorrow, it’s coming. The Bible doesn’t say if you have tribulation, it says when. Being a Christian, doesn’t mean we are promised some perfect life without trouble. It pains me that some people will look at my situation and say, “What good did your God do for you?” God didn’t give us a free pass through life’s trials, but he promised that He has overcome. This child’s death didn’t break a single one of God’s promises, they still hold firm. God is in control.
‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways’, declared the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’
I don’t understand why this happened. But I know God has a perfect plan, and this is part of it. He has a purpose I don’t understand. A lot of people struggle with this verse. They want to understand every facet of God’s plan and evaluate it before they chose to accept Him. This verse isn’t an excuse to not study God’s word and diligently seek Him, and just assume He has it covered. This verse is a call to faith. At the crux of Christianity is trusting God and having faith in Him, and therefore being obedient. We know He sent His Son to die on the cross, we know He is good, just, merciful, and loving. And we know He is all powerful. I put faith in that.
The Bible doesn’t explicitly say what happens to children who die who are too young to accept Christ as their Savior. Some people point to the story of David’s young son who died, and how David was no longer grieved once the child stopped suffering and died as proof that the child must have been in heaven. Most Christians trust in God’s loving and merciful qualities, and believe that they will see their children one day in heaven. I believe that is true, but I trust that God’s will – His ways – are perfect no matter what. I’m not trusting in seeing this child one day, I’m trusting in God whose way is perfect.
The sweet housekeeper who works for my parents, prayed with me on the day I found out the baby had no heart beat. She was told her now 17-year-old daughter was not going to make it in the womb, but she prayed and God defied the doctors. She prayed that when I went in for a more detailed follow up sonogram that the baby would be fine. The whole thing was in Spanish, and her daughter translated. I love hearing people pray in other languages. It reminds me how God works through so many different people. Eric was a bit concerned when he heard about this. He told me he didn’t want me to put my hope in that the baby would be alive when I went in for my next sonogram, but in Christ. I told him not to worry. God could save my baby, and that all-powerfulness gave me peace as she prayed. He knows what He is doing. Even though God chose not to use His power in that way, I will trust God.
For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
This gives me hope. As Christians, our hope is beyond this world. It’s in Christ who died for wretched souls like me, and allowing us to stand righteous before God – a righteousness we could never obtain on our own. This heart break isn’t worthy to be compared with the joy of standing in the presence of God, praising Him for eternity. Wow. What a promise.
And we know God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,
This verse gets quoted and misused a lot. People just say “God works all things together for good” to comfort people in times of tragedy. It says God works all things together for good to THOSE WHO LOVE GOD, and goes on to say all things work to make us more like Christ. Losing a baby isn’t going to magically one day feel good. I’m not going to look at, God willing, the child I one day hold in my arms and say, “it’s a good thing I lost the first one”. The only way this is going to come of any good is if I seek God, I trust Him more, I use this to grow is knowledge and wisdom of Him.
One of my coworkers astutely noted that maybe this happened so Eric and I could help others who have been through similar situations. I definitely have a new found compassion and ability to connect with people faced with this struggle. I think one of the good things that was supposed to come out of this, was me writing this. I can glorify God, share His word, and proclaim the gospel in spite of my loss – that is working together for good.
Behold, children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.
My child is a gift. Eric prayed the other night thanking God for the few weeks we got to be parents. Eric and I are blessed beyond measure and filled with gratitude with what God has done in our lives. Marian Ashwill, a dear friend and mentor, who lost her 6 year-old daughter in a car wreck 30 years ago, says tragedy either makes you bitter or better, there really is no in between. I am so thankful because I know that while this is painful, Eric and I will both rely on God and grow through this.
I also want to say a special note to my friends who have young children, and who are pregnant now. Your child is a blessing and I am SO excited for you! Please do not feel that you can’t share that joy with me. I want to see your joy. I know my loss will hit me in unusual ways and unusual moments – it hit me as my parents hugged me and grieved with me and I thought “I just want to be able to hold and comfort my child like this” – but hiding from the many blessing around me would just compound my grief.
2 Corinthians 12:9
‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
A week and a day before we found out the baby no longer had a heart beat, I broke down sobbing, and I told Eric I was scared of losing the baby. I was a mess. He held me and comforted me, and prayed that we would put the baby in God’s hands. If you looked at what a mess I was then, you would have thought that actually losing the baby would have rendered me a useless waste on the floor for weeks. But God gave me the grace I needed to get through each moment, and I have hope despite my loss. He provided the grace I needed now, and not beforehand – what a great provider.
These verses speak truth, and the truth gives me comfort. Thank you for letting me share with you what God has laid on my heart. I pray that reading this would help you understand that while I’m in pain, I am okay and I will grow from this, and that is only because I have a knowledge of Christ and His love. God knows this child intimately and carried out His perfect plan for this child.
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.