Who saved a baby in a boat?
Who kept that baby’s boat afloat?
Who loved that baby in the reeds?
Who knows just what a baby needs?
Who cares for you in just that way?
And gives you all you need today?
Yes, God’s the one who, day by day
Will care for you in every way.
The simple lyrics from my daughter’s lullaby music filled our car. I found myself clinging to the lines, repeating them over and over. The song ended, the next came, and I was overwhelmed by sorrow.
He made the stars and oceans blue
But says that none compare with you
You are his treasure and great prize!
He knows your name. He made your eyes.
He is your Shepherd, little lamb.
The King of Heaven
The Great I Am
He is your Shepherd, little lamb.
Just an hour earlier, I had sung these songs joyfully and trustingly along with my daughter and husband. They held special poignancy to me as I touched my expanding belly, always mindful of God’s unfolding creating inside my womb. How beautiful, how amazing, I had thought in wonder, that God is intricately making this little one, that he cares for us and this little unborn babe with such a treasuring, shepherding love.
And now? An hour later, our world felt like it had changed significantly. The heart had stopped beating and the baby had stopped growing. A miscarriage. As I listened to the lyrics, my heart fluctuated wildly. On the one hand, I wanted to cling even more strongly to those promises of God: God was indeed the great Shepherd of my little lamb. On the other hand, I felt the beginning tentacles of doubt. God, if you were making this little one, caring for him, treasuring him, sovereignly knitting him, then why did he die? The “why” and pain of miscarriage would resound in my heart for a long time.
It is often difficult to approach the topic of miscarriage. Miscarriage is physically and emotionally excruciating, but often hidden, a very personal and intense experience that you only share or hear about in hushed whispers and choked-back tears. Given how our culture – and other cultures around the world – approach miscarriage, you would think that it is uncommon. And yet, almost 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage. In other words, it is a reality for many women – a complex, painful, dark, life-changing reality.
There are many excellent things already written about dealing with the pain and loss of a miscarriage – practically, biblically, and emotionally. But I want to highlight two counter-cultural responses I hope women will have to miscarriage, responses that I hope will reorient how we think about and respond to the pain of miscarriage.
First: It is right and good to grieve a miscarriage. I have experienced two miscarriages and I came to dread many of the responses I received. Of course, I loved the people who gave them, and tried to always remember how often I have also been tongue-tied or said something ridiculous in the face of someone else’s overwhelming grief. But in the midst of my own loss, it didn’t make the remarks any easier.
Many of the comments sought to marginalize the loss: “It wasn’t a real baby yet”, “Don’t worry, you can have another”, “It must have been broken, you wouldn’t have wanted to have it anyway”, “Don’t be upset, don’t cry, you have already had one baby.”
Each comment hurt deeply. Though well meaning, they were trying to comfort in a way that actually denied that there was anything to grieve. But I believe that those experiencing a miscarriage can and should grieve, especially as believers. The baby, no matter how small and silent in the mother’s womb, was a child made in God’s image, a human person with a soul. Miscarriage is the death of a person. If we have experienced miscarriage or are comforting someone who has had one, we shouldn’t give into the world’s pressure to just “move on”.
Instead, we should grieve. Of course, everyone’s grief will look a little bit different. Some will struggle less; some more. It isn’t important how you grieve, just that you do, that you acknowledge the life that was both given and taken away, that you acknowledge the brokenness of the world that made it so. As believers, it is right for us to feel sorrow over our loss, to mourn with those who mourn. As believers, it is right and good to grieve a miscarriage.
Second: It is right and good to grieve a miscarriage with hope. I don’t write these words as an empty platitude, “don’t worry, you’ll have another”. I’m not talking about hope as a statistic, “don’t worry, the majority of women go on to have healthy pregnancies after experiencing a miscarriage”. Many people told me those things, but the reality is, no one knows the path God has for your story. When grieving a miscarriage, clinging to this type of hope can lead to later despair. Walking through a miscarriage with hope means putting our hope in the Lord. Not in having a healthy pregnancy and baby, but hoping in the Lord. Not in having answers to the “why”, but hoping in the Lord.
And God has already demonstrated (and is demonstrating) his extravagant love, patient faithfulness, and redeeming work in our lives and in the world. His Word is filled with his promises – promises of comfort, of his sovereign working, of his bringing light to the darkness, of his turning sorrow into joy, of his deep, abiding love for us. He loves when we bring our grief to his feet, entrusting ourselves to Him.
During my grief, God used Psalm 34 powerfully in my life to help me hope in Him:
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
When my husband and I walked through our two miscarriages, we chose to grieve with hope by naming our little babies. Our first was named Asha; our memorial to the fact that in the midst of suffering we could hope in the Lord. Our second, Ahsan, was named to remind us that God is merciful. We didn’t name either of them these names because we are super-spiritual or because we were happy. On the contrary we were broken-hearted.
Hope, mercy, and thankfulness felt far from our hearts and lips. God’s sovereignty felt confusing and, frankly, cruel. But we knew that if we sought Him, if we hoped in Him, He would answer. And so we named them as a memorial, a memorial to the little children God had uniquely and perfectly created and as a memorial to God’s goodness, greatness, and love in all situations, even in miscarriage.
Photo Credit: Unsplash
Loved reading it! Had a miscarriage too at hardly few weeks. .but I grieved big time! This is encouraging .. God bless.. keep writing!
I don't have many words, but I will say that the entire post has served me in my different grief.
Thank you for putting down your thoughts so beautifully. For someone who has experienced two miscarriages already and still waiting to have a baby, I can relate to this so perfectly. Hoping in the Lord and trusting in Him at all circumstances is defintely not easy, but as believers that is the only way out, for no human being is capable of understanding God's mighty ways.
Thank you once again
Hi there sweet friend-
Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your story here to encourage other women. I, too, needed to hear this message today. Miss you!
Thank you for writing these words.even I had 2 miscarriages.it wasn't easy to get out of it.but always knew His grace is sufficient to get out of that grieve.
Thank you for sharing your grief and what is helping you deal with it. Last year, I thought I was pregnant for a week and then found out I wasn't. I grieved for a baby I never had, that wasn't even created but who I had already fallen in love with. Hope was all I had and have... Hope in an ever loving, always faithful God.