- Death & Loss of Life
Your Suffering is Not The End of The Story
It took some time for me to write about this. Every time I started, pain and grief would suffocate me. Once I got past the pain, anything that I wrote felt forced and fake. I have gotten to the point where I don't care about the quality of my article. My only prayer is that someone reads this and it brings them some hope or comfort.
April 14th, 2016 I found out I was pregnant with our fourth child. Excited would be an understatement of how I felt. When I gave birth to Leila, in 2006, I knew that I wanted to have a lot of children. After all, the Bible says, children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. (Psalm 127:3-5, NIV)
My happiness was extremely short-lived. Three days later, I miscarried. Losing a child is the most painful thing I've ever experienced. I can't fully explain all that I felt. Blinding rage one day and the next a terrifying numbness. Shame, depression, inadequacy, anger, denial, sadness.
Fast forward to July 6th, 2016. Two pink lines on a home pregnancy test sent me into a spiral of emotions. I felt excited, anxious, thankful, and scared. I pleaded with God, let me hold this baby in my arms. Three days later, to my dismay, I miscarried again. I was at the lowest of lows in my faith. I felt that God had deserted me and quite frankly, I wanted nothing to do with Him. Someone quoted Psalm 34:18 to me, the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Honestly, it made me mad because I couldn't feel him close to me at all. My thought was, what had I done that God would thrust me into this crippling pain and then leave me there to fend for myself?
Enduring miscarriages back-to-back caused me a lot of anguish. I definitely blamed God for most of it. But the worst part was that I felt so isolated in my misery. Logic told me that twenty-five percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. But my grief told me that I was completely alone. Logic told me that my husband was supportive of my grief but I thought he was indifferent. Logic told me that I should tell my mom, but my grief told me to keep it a secret.
The first step in my healing was reaching out for support. I had fantastic friends who helped tremendously during this time. Friends who couldn't relate to what I was experiencing, but who loved on me regardless. I also had friends who could relate to my situation and they validated my feelings. They spoke encouragement and told me what helped them heal. Most of them encouraged me to name my Angel Babies. Even though I didn't know their genders, it helped give them an identity and made the grieving process more concrete. After some deliberation, my husband and I decided on Zechariah (which means God remembers) and Joanna (which means God is gracious).
Transparency with both Tony and my mom brought me immense freedom. I spoke openly with my husband about what I was feeling. He was amazing in letting me grieve in my own way, but also keeping me accountable so that I didn't let it consume me. I wasn't sure how my mom would react to my news and I let fear tell me that she wouldn't be supportive, which was pure insanity. She held me in her arms and we cried together. Sometimes you just need to cry with your mama.
If you have lost a child or are suffering from life's hurts, please don't give into the lie that you are alone in your pain. Reach out. Don't suffer in silence. Someone, somewhere knows exactly how you feel.
Another lie that I let creep in was, I must've done something wrong. Losing Zechariah and Joanna must've been my fault in some way. My body was capable of producing healthy babies, so what changed? Was God punishing me or trying to teach me a lesson? I felt like a failure as a mother for not being able to carry Zechariah and Joanna full-term.
The second step in healing was realizing that losing those precious babies was not my fault. I obviously didn't want to give them up willingly. My shame and guilt was completely self-inflicted. No one told me that I was indequate because I miscarried. In fact, no woman should ever feel guilt for what her body can or cannot do. Even harder to accept, was the fact that God was not punishing me. As senseless as it seems at times, death is a part of this world. It doesn't always have an explanation.
Remember how angry I was at God and how I blamed him for taking my babies? The third step in my healing was hands down the hardest. Honestly, I'm still in the process of this step. Step three was accepting that God was not to blame for my pain. He still loves me and it wasn't his will for me to experience this loss. I think this step was the hardest because it is difficult to understand and even harder to accept.
Isaiah 53:10 talks about how it was God's will that Jesus would suffer. Which is a statement that I didn't want to believe. A bible study that I "stumbled" across puts it this way: After all, if God intended for Jesus to suffer, he might want us to suffer too. And we're not sure we're up for that calling.
Uh yeah, I was not up for losing two children in the matter of three months. Two children who I will not hear laugh or cry. I won't hold them, kiss them goodnight or teach them how to wave bye-bye. How could a loving God want me to suffer that? It doesn't make any sense! If he is such a loving God shouldn't he want me to live in a perfect world with no difficulties, no pain, no death? My bible study gave me the answer in a way that finally clicked with me.
God did create the world perfect and without suffering in a garden long ago. We all have an Eden-like yearning because God created us to live there. But we sinned and suffering was the penalty for sin. Therefore, in this life, we will experience suffering and death. In fact, as the Isaiah passage reveals, God actually intended for Jesus to suffer during his earthly life so that we could be saved.
It goes on to say: However, God isn't callous to our suffering. He cares deeply. Jesus showed us that when he came to earth. He healed those who were suffering. He wept because people were suffering. And now he has conquered suffering. He is seated at the right hand of God. We will suffer on earth, but the story doesn't end there. If you're a believer, you will one day live in a perfect place: "Then I saw 'a new heaven and a new earth,'...'There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away"(Revelation 21:1,4).
I mistakenly believed that God had deserted me during this time. The truth is that I pushed him away. I stopped reading my bible, I refused to pray and when I went to church I sat in my seat crying through half the sermons. Even as I stiff-armed God, He continued to reach out to me.
I stumbled across multiple articles that spoke to my pain and encouraged me in my faith. I found a book titled "Grieving the Child I Never Knew" by Kathe Wunnenburg that ministered to me so much. When I finally stopped pushing God away and opened my bible again, I found exactly what I needed in every verse I read. I just happened upon a bible study that spoke directly to my heart about God's will and suffering. Some might call it a coincidence, but I don't think it was an accident.
He spoke to me mostly through songs though. It seemed like every time I turned on the radio a song was on that felt like it was meant precisely for me. If I were to list all the songs it would make a pretty decent-sized playlist, but here are a few that really touched me:
Trust in You - Lauren Daigle
Find You On My Knees- Kari Jobe
The Hurt & The Healer - MercyMe
Thy Will - Hillary Scott & The Scott Family
Steady My Heart - Kari Jobe
Glory Baby - Watermark
My suffering is not the end of the story. God wants to use my pain for good. Romans 5:3-5 says: We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
God didn't cause my pain but he did use my pain to teach me. Through this, I've learned to appreciate all the good in my life. I am so thankful for the three beautiful daughters I already have. I am grateful for friends and family who have supported me during this. I love my husband even more because he was an anchor for me during this. I appreciate Jesus' sacrifice on the cross even more because I know that Zechariah & Joanna are in Heaven with him.
I've learned that when in the midst of pain, don't push God away but pull him close and don't let go. He is like a life vest when you're drowning. I've learned that God can use my darkest moment to bring a ray of light into someone's life. That is my hope, that in the process of sharing my story that it will bring someone comfort.
Zechariah and Joanna are in Heaven, which means they will never experience the pain of this world. They will never experience fear, they won't know cold or hunger, they will never be alone and most importantly they will always know love. I'm grateful for that. And someday I will get to hold them there.