The hope of eternity.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

I glanced at the clock: 10:35 pm. Time of death, 10:35. I'd heard doctors declare the time of a patient's death a dozen times before in my work as a nurse. It's always a somber moment, whether death was expected or not, and there's always a hush of silence as medical personnel step away from the patient's lifeless body.

But this was different. This time, I wasn't standing beside a hospital bed. I was crouched on my bathroom floor. The bleeding began and I knew it was over. In the haze of hormones that pulsed through my veins, I thought that if this child didn't have a name and would never celebrate a birthday, at least I should know the time that marked his end.

It was in June that we suffered a third miscarriage. This pregnancy had been a complete surprise and it had taken Shawn and me a couple weeks to wrap our minds around a coming fourth child. But we had. And it seemed as soon as we did, I had the strange sense that we wouldn't get to meet this baby on this side of eternity. I called my doctor and reported no other symptoms besides a nagging feeling that something was "off." He brought me to the office for labs and, a few hours later, delivered grim news. My hormone levels were far from where they should be at this point in pregnancy and I would probably miscarry within 3 to 5 days. Mercifully, it came much sooner: at 10:35pm that night.

Miscarriages don't get easier the more you have. But this third time, I did feel more emotionally prepared to handle the process. Much of that I owe to this book: Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb by Jessalyn Hutto. A friend recommended it to me and, even as I miscarried, it was as though the author was spoon-feeding me gospel truth that I needed in those weak moments. She doesn't shy away from the toughest questions ("Where is my baby now?" "Is my miscarriage a punishment from God?") and builds a strong theological framework for suffering in the setting of miscarriage.

I wanted to share a few things I've gleaned as I've walked through these three miscarriages. I know I will always process these losses and probably feel differently as time goes on and the Lord continues to heal broken places in my heart. But I hope these truths are an encouragement to you or to someone you know who is struggling through a painful loss.

I won't fully understand God's sovereign ways this side of heaven. Do I believe I will see my three lost babies when I get there? I do. They aren't lost to God. Psalm 22:9-10 says, "Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother's breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God." I know from 25 years of walking with him that God is my wise, loving Father and that I can deeply trust him, even in the midst of pain. What I trust is God's character, and that His actions toward me (and my babies) are for our good and his glory.

Jesus grieves alongside me. Has he himself experienced the loss of a baby? No. He has experienced far worse. He experienced the loss of his Father as he was separated from him in our place. And he has experienced every emotion that accompanies miscarriage: loneliness, isolation, grief, pain. Hebrews 2:17-18 reminds us, "For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people." This Jesus who understands our pain offers fellowship to us in our miscarriages. Run to him.

"For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ." - 2 Corinthians 1:5

For believers, death is not the final word. Our glorious, eternal future with God is the hope we cling to, and I yearn like never before for Christ to return and obliterate death forever. Heaven has become more tangible when I think of three perfectly joyful, perfectly whole children waiting for us there. They are, even now, experiencing more contentment, peace, and love than this world could ever give.

I love this quote from Inheritance of Tears: "Imagine the multitude of souls - babies who have died in the womb - who have been chosen by God for the glorious light of heaven before they had the chance to see the light of our sin-darkened world. Does this knowledge of their resurrection not lessen the grief we experience at our loss?" For me, the answer is a resounding yes.

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Hutto also writes, "The incarnation offers beautiful hope for the woman who has miscarried. The death of a baby within the womb is a painful reminder - if not one of the most fundamental expressions - of death's curse over humanity. The good news is that Jesus came to reverse exactly that curse." What incredible hope we have!

If you're interested, you can read about Miscarriage 1 here: Immanuel. 
and Miscarriage 2 here: With Hope.

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