On a bookshelf in my bedroom is the only known photograph of my daughter, Ainsley. She was only 8 weeks old when our doctor uttered the dreadful words, “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat”. The black and white sonogram picture serves as a daily reminder of her brief, yet wondrous life. Cherishing that sonogram is the least we can do to remember and celebrate. Though I never even met her, she is due every bit of respect and dignity appropriated with a bearing the Imago Deo. She is equally as human as you and I; I love her and miss her.
A little over 5 years after her death, the heartache and grieving that accompanies a miscarriage is prowling over us again. A few days ago, we lost another child.
Death may be the most honest adumbration that there is more to life than meets the naked eye. I can think of little else that feels more unnatural than losing a child prematurely. As eternal beings, we are bound with a purpose only fulfilled within the halls of eternal glory. We’re carefully crafted to be worshipers and image bearers of the only living God. Yet, sin ravages our world. Death is certain. It’s only in Christ and with the hope of the resurrection that we find comfort is such times.
Without the hope of the resurrection, I honestly don’t understand how one can bear the weight of such a terrible event. The promise of a future resurrection reminds us that death is not the end. I’ll borrow a line from one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Andrew Peterson. For a Christian experiencing the pains of this fallen world, “the aching may remain, but the breaking does not.”
I often wonder where atheistic parents look to for hope and meaning in a miscarriage? Can they press into their cosmic, evolutionary ideologies for guidance? The earthly sciences offer no answers, advice, or comfort for despairing parents. The universe is dark and empty; tears of mourning will only be met with entropy and silence.
It’s worth saying again: in Christ we have hope.
Our recent mourning inspires me to reflect upon miscarriages within the Christian worldview. Considering our unique eternal perspective, how should believers respond in such trials?
Grieve with Those Who Grieve
First, we need to hit the pause button on offering grand theological elucidations. While our minds may want to ponder cosmic, sovereign implications and explanations, we need to first remember to “weep with those who weep”as Paul commanded us. In other words, grieve – but don’t do it alone. Let friends, family, and your church community weep with you. In perfect design, the Christian community is a single body and to be a place of healing.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
It is the unity between Christ and His church that ensures we should not suffer a miscarriage alone. As horrific as the loss of a child is, Jesus can sympathize. He suffered grief and tasted death so that He could offer true help in times of great mourning. Amazingly, He has felt exactly what you are feeling. He sympathizes with us spiritually, and brings encouragement by way of the local church. Press into Him and your church.
As a husband, I have a unique responsibility to care for my wife. I must make sure I am sacrificially available for her in this trial. As Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so am I to do for my bride. As hard as this is on me, it is certainly harder on her. Very recently, this beautiful child was part of her body. They shared blood and life-giving resources. A child and a mother unite in such a way that husbands (and men in general) will never rightly understand. Husbands (I am speaking to myself as much as anyone), hold fast to your wives in such times. Even if you struggle to find words that bring comfort, being present to share this burden goes a long way.
Celebrate the Life
This is one of the reasons we keep the picture of our Ainsley. From the moment of conception, there is an authentic human life. Regardless of age or stage of development, an eternal soul is created in the flesh. This life is worthy to be celebrated and remembered.
For some this may be done with a funeral, and for others it might be more appropriate to keep an item as a visual reminder. With our most recent loss, my wife I plan to plant a tree in our child’s memory. The point is, we should do something that causes us to think of their lives often and thank God for them. How wonderful will that day be when our tears are wiped away and we meet them again?
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4
Remember God’s Love and Purpose
Often, it is in times of great sadness that the foundation of our theology is tested. Is your house built upon sand or upon the Rock? Our God is sovereign and remains in control over life and death. The loss of a child may cause of to ask “why” and doubt that God loves us, but take heart, dear Christian. Your greatest need is met in Jesus Christ. The cross is the perfect reminder that God loves us. He sent His son to bear our iniquities. He is infinitely good and worthy of our praise. We must trust that it is God who controls all things, for our good.
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32
Finally, let us turn 2 Kings 4 for some insight. Here we find the story of a woman who loses a child. After falling ill, her son goes to his mother for aid. Thinking the child just needed some rest, she sends him to bed, but the sickness proved fatal (verse 20). Despite “bitter despair”, she has an unshaken faith that her child will be raised to life again. She completely trusts in God’s goodness and purpose, so much so that when she is asked, “is it well with the child?” she responds with great faith in saying, “it is well.”
Charles Spurgeon had this to say about the text:
“Let every mother and father know assuredly that it is well with the child, if God has taken it away from you in its infant days. You never heard its declaration of faith; it was not capable of such a thing. It was not baptized into the Lord Jesus Christ. It was not capable of giving that ‘answer of a good conscience towards God’; nevertheless, you may rest assured that it is well with the child, well in a higher and a better sense than it is well with yourselves. The child is ‘well’ without limitation, without exception, infinitely and eternally.”
For anyone who has experienced a miscarriage or the loss of a child, there will be dark days. In these times we should grieve and mourn, but we should also celebrate the gift and miracle of life. We can do all of this because, as Christians, we have a living hope that the blood shed for our soul was also shed for our unborn or infant children. We will see them in glory very soon – for, this life is but a “momentary affliction that is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our trouble” (2 Corinthians 4:17).