Finding God in the suffering of miscarriage
This past February, I became 1 in 4. I lived the possibility I had always dreaded yet, at the same time, believed naively I would never actually endure. I miscarried my baby at nine weeks, and became a mom who holds her baby in her heart rather than in her arms.
From that moment forward, I’ve found myself on both ends of the spiritual spectrum – on one hand, clinging to God fiercely and on the other, wrestling the desolation of wondering if He even really cares. I’ve asked both “how could anyone go through this without God?” and “how could a God who loves me let me suffer in this way?”
When you’re in the midst of grieving, it can feel impossible to pray. Yet, it is the Enemy of Life, not the Giver of it, who seeks to isolate us there. Prayers offered from a grieving heart are merely a response to a Father who is already reaching out to us.
A few weeks into my fourth pregnancy, I sat on the couch, tears streaming down my face as I watched the finale of Season Three of “The Chosen”. In one of the closing scenes, I watched the portrayal of Peter walking on water, and was moved to tears by how Jesus reached to him beckoning “keep your eyes on me”, and pulled him into the boat after his faith had faltered out there on the stormy sea. As the waves crashed around them, Peter clung to Jesus crying out over and over again “don’t leave me, don’t leave me.” Jesus, stroking Peter’s head and holding him tenderly, assured him over and over “I’m here. I’ve got you.”
It was an absolute act of Divine Providence that I watched this episode when I did. A few weeks later, when I began spotting and found myself in the throes of anxiety as I awaited my bloodwork results, I heard Jesus whisper over and over “Keep your eyes on me.”
The day after my bloodwork, when I received the call no mother wants to get and learned that my HCG levels had dropped significantly and were indicative of an impending miscarriage, I heard His voice beckon through the wind of grief roaring around me – “Keep your eyes on me.”
I did my best to look towards the Lord in the days that followed that devastating news, and there were many moments when I could profoundly see Him and even feel His presence with me. I recorded all of these moments – wrote them down so that I have a tangible receipt, if you will, of God’s faithfulness to me.
Yet, while I had felt God so closely to me in the immediate wake of my grief, as time passed and life began to move along all around me, I felt more and more as though I were being tossed about upon the waves of my sadness. The consolation and peace I had experienced began to dry up and slip through my hands. Surrounding me were pregnancy announcements, and the progression of others’ pregnancies. Month after month I was reminded of what I had lost and devastated all over again. Seeing God in any of it started to feel impossible; prayer felt exhausting. My humanity begged to know why I had lost my baby. Why wasn’t I spared this cross?
During an evening of praise and worship a few months later I felt the Holy Spirit shift my interior posture from anger and bitterness to genuine curiosity. I truly yearned to know where Christ was in my moments of my suffering and I asked. Immediately, the image of Jesus holding Peter in the boat and whispering lovingly into his ear “I’ve got you” came into my mind and filled my heart. He had been there holding me all along. Through each stage of my grief, no corner of it went unseen or untouched by His love. I understood in that moment that the reality of the storm didn’t confound the reality of His presence, nor even did my inability to feel those arms around me at certain moments. Even when His voice felt far away, the whisper actually came from right beside me.
I found that when I didn’t veil it from Him, my woundedness was the entry point through which God had the most direct access to my heart. And when I invited Him there, He came swiftly and without delay.
For me, this revelation was the beginning of the deep healing God wants to do in my heart – a healing which has begun and is continuing even now. Not long after this, I joined a small group bible study with some close friends which lead us through the book of Ephesians. From this study, I began to learn the importance of taking my thoughts captive to Christ. I was shown how to speak scriptural truths over my life and into my grief, sadness, anger and frustration so that these places became part of my story rather than its entirety. This, in and of itself, has changed my life tremendously.
What about you, sister? If you’re there, or if you’ve ever been there, walking through the grief of miscarriage or stillbirth, take a moment to consider where your heart is at. Can you find God in your places of grief? Are you wondering where, or if, you can find Him in the midst of this loss?
Ask Him where He is, if it’s something you’re currently walking through. If your loss is a past one, consider taking some time in adoration to sit with the Lord and ask Him to show you where He was while you were going through it. Allow your heart to echo Martha’s words from the Gospel – where were you Lord? Then ask the Holy Spirit for a posture of receptivity within your heart so that God can show up for you and respond to your hurt with the fullness of His presence. If you have a moment, write down what He reveals to you and revisit it often.
Consider, also, the thoughts taking up residence in your mind. Are they ones that speak life and hope? Do they bolster or attack your identity as a beloved daughter? It is part of God’s battle plan to defeat the lie you may be believing that you are alone or abandoned, uncared for or unseen in your hurt. God wants to demolish the hold that lie has on your life and saturate you in truth instead.
In my own life, this looks like proclamation of truth, sometimes even out loud, to the lies the enemy suggests to my heart or to the emotions that threaten at times to overtake me:
To the thoughts that wonder if God has abandoned me in my suffering I proclaim “that God does not leave me orphaned” (Romans 8:15), “He has called me by name and I am His” (Isaiah 43:1).
To the thoughts that suggest I am alone and isolated in my feelings and experience I proclaim “that God Himself goes before me and IS with me” (Matthew 28:20), "He will never leave nor forsake me” (Deuteronomy 31:8).
To the thoughts that whisper worry and anxiety over an unknown future or uncertain fertility I proclaim that “God has plans to prosper me, and never to harm me” (Jeremiah 29:11) “and that even in this moment He is working things out for my good” (Romans 8:28).
To the comparison that tempts me to see the blessing in other’s lives as a deficit to my own blessings I proclaim that “my God is a God of abundance” (John 10:10), “that He who knows me intimately gives me the desires of my heart” (Psalm 37:4).
To the sadness that comes when I miss my baby and long for him to be here with me, I proclaim “that it is okay to feel sad, that God is near to me in my broken heart” (Psalm 34:18), and “that NOTHING, not even death can separate me from His love and the love of my child in Heaven” (Romans 8:38-39).
Sister, it is an honor and privilege for me to share my story with you, to open my grieving heart to you – I hope it makes you feel less alone. But it is His words, not mine, which will heal and bind up and awaken. So as I’ve sat with this blog post, and read and re-read it over and over again, wondering how to end it – God has placed it on my heart to do just what I’ve encouraged you to do and ask Him what He has to say. What does He want you, who is reading this, to know – to hear? What does He have to say to your heart? This is His response, and it is meant for YOU.
“I want to heal you in deep places. I want to sit with you in your grief. I want to weep with you, to shoulder this cross alongside you and bear the brunt of its weight. I want to sing quietly over you, songs of consolation and hope. I want to take the defeat you feel and redeem it. I want to take the brokenness and restore it. I want to give you abundant blessings, not in spite of the cross, but from it. I want the cross you carry to become a wellspring of life and a fount of truth from which you can draw your deepest strength and greatest courage and an unmovable peace. I want the deepest places of my heart to touch the deepest places of yours, so that you might have even the smallest understanding of how deeply I love and cherish you. I won’t ever let you go. My arms will always be here. My heart will always be yours.”