It is Well with My Soul

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My third baby at 7.5 weeks: Heartrate: 115

Miscarriage

Your baby does not have a heartbeat. These are the words every expectant mother and father fear to hear. These are the words that broke my heart just a few days ago. It took three days for the loss and hurt to sink in, and four days to naturally miscarry my baby.  I bottled my emotions tightly because I had been here before. Just three years ago I had received the same tragic news that shattered my world.  The push and pull of being shuffled around the doctor’s office until a free doctor was able to speak to me were emotionally taxing.  When the doctor was able to see me his first words as expected were, “it is not your fault.” I knew in my mind that these words were true, but I couldn’t help but feel like it was absolutely my fault. I backtracked in my mind to think of all the things that could have gone wrong, and how it could be my responsibility. If I only took three prenatal vitamins a day instead of two. If only I didn’t walk so much in my everyday duties. “If only”… this mentality does not allow the heart of my baby to begin to beat again. It only opens up a can of worms, because these self-blaming ideas do nothing but harm.

Next, I notified the most trusted individuals who were aware of my pregnancy.  In the past, some have offended me in attempts to provide encouragement and some made me feel worse with their well-intentioned, but stinging words. There is nothing from the human mouth that can make the initial pain of loss feel better. Some of the most caring, best-intentioned people say the most foolish things to those who are grieving.

I have a tendency when enduring pain to say “someone else is suffering more than me.” While this is true, it should not minimize my pain. In fact, this mindset kept me from coping and grieving appropriately. I have a beautiful nine-month-old daughter, and I love her dearly. Even though I have one baby, I still suffered the loss of another. I was tempted to not grieve over losing this baby since I already have a baby. The thought crossed my mind that if I grieved over this lost life that I was actually being unthankful and I felt internally guilty.

Stoicism

My first pregnancy was a miscarriage, my second pregnancy God sustained and gave us a beautiful daughter, and my recent pregnancy was another miscarriage.  I was once ignorant of the idea of miscarriage, and never dreamed it would happen to me.  After my second miscarriage, I thought, “I’ve been through this before, and surely the pain of loss will not be as great as the first. God is sovereign and this is His will, and His will is always good.” While God’s goodness and sovereignty are very important truths to grasp, I actually ignored the situation and in my grief, I began to project angrily at my husband who was also grieving in his own way. I stuffed the pain and lashed out. I knew it was wrong to blame God, and I knew it was wrong to blame myself, but I felt that I needed to blame someone or something. My husband bore the brunt of my grief-laden tirade and instead of crying, I became very stoic. Rather than dealing with my grief in a healthy way, I tried to simply endure the pain without complaint and without showing any emotion. I sat on the couch one night telling my husband all the things I thought were wrong in our life when in reality losing another baby was eating away at my soul. But I refused to face the facts of my grief. I refused to allow myself to weep for another loss of life I had carried. It was not until later in that dreadful conversation that I realized I needed to react to this loss. There is no time limit to grieving, and it is not wrong or weak to weep emotionally.  What I had done was avoided my emotions altogether.

Grieving 

Having my mind rooted in Christ does not negate grieving. In John 11:33-36 we find a record of Jesus weeping, and not once does he allude to it being a sign of weakness or sin, but of humanity. Jesus’ response to death was appropriate. There is nothing natural about death. Working through loss is a process, and I need time to work through it. But I also need to be careful because, in my sadness and even anger, sin is unacceptable. This concept seems easy when the situation does not apply to you. But when faced with the stinging pain of loss, our flesh often wars against us, tempting us to turn to “easy” methods of coping. There are many things that offer an escape but provide only bitterness and further grief. These things may give a temporary high or relief from the present feelings of sorrow, but they cannot provide a lasting peace. In the midst of loss, I need to see the hand of God and to trust that He is at work in sanctifying me.  In the most tragic of circumstances, God will never allow my sin to be justified. Job 2:10 says, ” Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity? In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Keeping an eternal perspective during this time is not easy for me. I am continually filling myself with truths, and reminding myself of the great God who even now loves me, and will see me through this trial.

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

The question is often asked, why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? The short answer to this question is there is no such thing as “good people”. ALL have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23).  There is not one person on the face of the earth who has not sinned. The only perfect man was Jesus and he was nailed to a cross for my sin and rose three days later. He was the only person who was sinless and did not deserve the wrath of God. Yet he endured God’s wrath on the cross in my place and he tasted death so that I could live. When people say things like “you’re such a good person and you don’t deserve this loss”, I always remember God has allowed me not to be in pain and constant trial every day of my life. The question should not be why does God allow bad things to happen to good people but rather why does God allow good things to evil people? While this may sound harsh, even in this loss, it is most necessary to remind myself that I am doing better than I deserve.

An Upward Look from a Downcast Soul

I have always felt Psalms 42-43 provide an excellent Biblical example for how to grieve. The majority of the Psalms are written by David. However, book two of the Psalms opens with two Psalms written by the Sons of Korah. It is my belief that Psalm 42 and 43 are meant to be read together.  I enjoy the history behind of the sons of Korah because their namesake, Korah, led a rebellion of 250 leaders against Moses and perished by God’s judgment along with the other leaders and their families (Numbers 16; Jude 11). But, the sons of Korah were spared by God. They utilized their musical abilities to praise God in the wilderness tabernacle and later in the temple in Jerusalem. The sons of Korah were never given names, and they never sought praise or glory for their musical gifts.

Psalm 42 begins,” as the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?(verses 1-2). 

In the context of Psalm 42-43, the sons of Korah were unable to proceed in worship as they had been able to in previous days and consequently they mourned this reality. Enemies from a foreign land had surrounded them and taunted them saying “where is your God?”  Throughout Psalm 42 and 43 the writer struggles and goes back and forth between this downcast state, and then talks himself into the Biblical eternal mindset. Readers can see this progression clearly: the author starts by asking, “Why are you downcast oh my soul?” and concludes by saying, “I will always praise your name, hope in God, for He is the giver of grace that makes my salvation forever sustained. James Montgomery Boice says quite beautifully that these two Psalms are “An upward look from a downcast soul.” (Boice, 366). 

” Why are you cast down. O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation” Psalms 42:5

I cling to Psalms 42-43 in times of trial. The verse above is my favorite repeated verse in all of scripture.  I am reminded that I must hope in God and I am further assured that my salvation is secure. The writer of these Psalms desires to worship the Lord in his entirety. In this moment of despair, he looks upward toward the living God whose name is worthy of praise in all circumstances.

Conclusion

God may take several babies from me in this temporary life, but I will forever cling in hope to His written Word and my undeserved salvation. This reality does not negate the pain of death and loss though. I need to grieve properly and our Lord is the best example of how to do this. Rather than stuffing my pain, it is very necessary to weep. There is a time for laughter and a time for mourning. In this present time of mourning, it is important for me to see God not as an enemy, but a loving father.  I read a Christian magazine once with this statement: “God may not insulate us from the pain that characterizes the fallen world, but through it, He is our advocate, not our adversary.” This will forever ring true for me. If I could offer some advice it would be this: in trying times, cling to the one who sustains you in every way. Trust the promise that God causes all things to work together for GOOD to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28), and remind yourself that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).

I will not understand the meaning of every tragic moment in this life. Job is a good reminder of this truth. We as the readers know why he endured such pain, but Job never knew why, yet he trusted the Lord.  I may not understand, but I can trust that God is good, his purposes are good, and He loves me with an everlasting love that no trial or earthly suffering can extinguish. I am often tempted to believe the foolish things that friends and family members tell me in the midst of trial and suffering. I am constantly tempted to look at my circumstances and at everything other than Christ. I am also tempted to lash out and grieve improperly when trials come. But in the midst of trial, the only way to find true peace is to fix my eyes upon Christ. In this world, trouble is to be expected. Grief and sorrow are bound to come in a cursed and fallen world and these are indeed proper responses to the effects of our earthly enemies which are sin and death. But the Christian has a great promise: that Jesus Christ, our great high priest, will never leave or forsake his people. Far from leaving his people he sympathizes with them and prays for them! It is because of this great love that I can take heart in the midst of trial and suffering and sincerely say “it is well with my soul”.

 

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

 

 

Sources:

ESV Bible

NASB Bible

Psalms, volume 2 (Psalm 42-106) An Expositional Commentary by James Montgomery Boice

 

 

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