Miscarriages: An Empty Cradle and A Full Hope

I have fathered four children. Two of them live with me here, Auriana and Luke, and two of them await me in heaven. Their sun set before it ever rose. The Lord formed them in my wife’s inwards parts, weaving them in their mother’s womb, fearfully and wonderfully making them (Psalm 139:13-14). Each had a body and soul. Each bore the image of their Creator. And each child was redeemed by the Son who, so as to pass through every stage of life that we do, and fully be who we are, and make us fully who he is, began his redeeming work as an embryonic Savior in a virgin’s womb.

But for reasons that I do not understand, and never will, what the Lord gave, the Lord took away. He does that sometimes. Actually, he does that a lot. When God takes away, I have been known to scream at him, or to boil in mute anger for days or weeks or years, or—worst of all—to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord,” and not to mean a damn word of it. I don’t think Jesus was ever more human than when he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!” Why have you taken what once you gave?

There is a time for everything under heaven. And just as there is a time to bemoan the loss of a gift, so there is a time to find in that loss the continuing presence of the Giver. For the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, but he never takes away himself. We may scream at the silent heavens, but his ear is never farther than our lips. It is, in fact, never farther than our heart, in which, mystery of mysteries, while we yell heavenward, the Spirit of God intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. God in us, praying to God, though all we hear may be our soul’s veil being torn in two.

The moment a child is conceived, he or she is the subject of a divine conversation. From the Father’s, “Let this child be,” and he is, to the Son’s, “I have redeemed this child,” and he is, to the Spirit’s, “Let this child be ours now and forever,” and he is, the God who is love is loving this baby and talking about him. And as if that is not enough, the church, the bride of Christ, is praying for this baby. She prays to the Husband who has promised, “Ask, and you shall receive,” the Husband who is able to do “exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.” And if that is still not enough, the mother and father pray for this baby; saints and angels pray for him; loved ones and total strangers pray for him. For every child in a mother’s womb, the whole host of heaven and earth, indeed God himself, intercedes.

So it was for my first baby that died, as well as my second. And so it was for my friends who know the grief of staring into an empty cradle, of saying goodbye to an unfulfilled future. We grieve, but not as those who have no hope. For as David said when his baby boy died, “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” I shall go to him. And in the meantime, I will learn to give thanks for what the Lord has given but not taken away. And I will try to be more like the Job who says we should receive good and bad from God, instead of the Job who curses the day of his birth. I will fail. There will be days, perhaps years, when I will still scream at heaven. But when my sobs have ceased, and I begin listening again, I will strive to hear within me the sighing of the Spirit, who fills all my empty cradles with the fullness of hope that is found in the Child conceived and born for us all.

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11 thoughts on “Miscarriages: An Empty Cradle and A Full Hope

  1. The heart of a Christian who has not known disappointment with the Father even while feeling His love has not yet been fully formed.

    Heartrendingly beautiful.

  2. I agree with Sam’s comment: Heartrendingly beautiful. And also, I think, of comfort & hope to those of us who have borne with infertility.

  3. Good timing. Tuesday gives opportunity to remember the One who was not miscarried and in whose death parents of dead babies can find eternal comfort.

  4. Karen Janssen on said:

    When you wrote this I was sitting by my husband’s bedside as he died. I’m listening… I still can’t hear God anywhere near… when does the pain end?

  5. Melissa on said:

    My husband wrote this for our church newsletter after our infant son died 11 years ago. Praying it reaches someone who will find comfort and hope. Thank you, Chad, for being another voice who uses God’s own Word to offer real and certain hope!
    A Boy Named “Grace”
    Many of you know that Melissa and I suffered a miscarriage last month. Actually our baby died sometime in January, it’s just that we found out about it last month during a regular check-up. While Melissa lay on the ultrasound table and our 3-year old son gazed mesmerized at the image on the screen, the doctor sadly shook his head and said “there is no heartbeat.”
    That was on a Tuesday. A “procedure” was scheduled for that Friday to take the baby’s body out. The baby was about ½ way through the pregnancy. If it had been just 10 days older, the doctor would have had to issue a death-certificate, but that was not the case.
    Going through this sad chapter of our lives with you, our Bethany family, has taught us a number of things that I want to address.
    FIRST. We have been overwhelmed by the family support here at Bethany. Until now we have always been on the other end, helping to arrange things for other people in need. To be on the receiving end of your care, your cards, your flowers, your support and prayers is staggering. Thank you all so much for helping us through this.
    SECOND. We have found out that many, many of you have suffered miscarriages in your own families. For some of you it was very early in your pregnancy, perhaps you and your husbands were the only ones who knew you were pregnant; maybe even the miscarriage was how you found out you had been pregnant. We have found out this week that for the most part you people have mourned all alone; you’ve only told other people who’ve suffered miscarriages that you, too, have gone through this.
    For others, you were further along in the pregnancy. Mom was showing; the anticipation was building. We have found out that many people have lost their children well past the ½ way point of pregnancy. Your grief was more public; people knew that you had lost your child.
    Whichever group better describes you, in this past week we have learned that this is a hurt you’ve carried for years, some of you for decades. Every time it happens to someone else, you hurt for your baby again. Along with your pain you have carried questions. Is my baby in heaven? The next section is why I—your pastor—wanted to write about these things.
    THIRD. What happened to our children? This experience has driven me back to the Bible and to respected theologians to find out if Melissa and I had anything more than wishful thinking for comfort. As I get into this topic, let me first say that I am only going to address the question: “what happens to the unborn children of God’s children?” I am not going to say anything about anyone else’s children, I have no knowledge or expertise in that area, all I know is what God says about His people.
    Can Christians be confident that their deceased unborn children are in heaven? “YES”! First consider the following passages and what they tell us about the unborn:
    Genesis 25:23—babies in utero are called two nations. In Judges 13:5 God says that Samson is dedicated to Him from the womb. Psalm 22:9 says You made me trust in You from my mother’s breast while 22:10 says from my mother’s womb You have been my God. In Psalm 139:13-16 we read For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. And John the Baptist is both filled with the Holy Spirit and filled with joy while still in utero, (see Luke 1:15, 41-44)
    These verses show us that God knows the children in utero, that He considers them people—His people, and that they are within reach of the Holy Spirit.
    We also know His love for little children. In Luke 18 we read: 15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
    This is an important verse because in the Greek it literally says “let the babies come to Me”. The Greeks used that word to refer to infants and fetuses.
    Sure, He wants babies brought to Him—we bring them to Him in Baptism, but unborn babies are not baptized, some might argue. True. If a Christian mother delivers a living child, it should be baptized as soon as possible. God has bound us to this miraculous and comforting sacrament. But an important thing to remember here is that though we are bound by such things, He is not. He can work wherever and however He wills, remember John the Baptist filled with the Holy Spirit (faith) and joy while still in utero.
    But wait, there’s more. Our unborn children are included in the Church’s prayers and in the parents’ prayers; and we know that Jesus loves to answer prayer. We also know that in praying for the salvation of our children (even unborn children) we do not need to pray conditionally. (e.g. who ever heard a parent pray “Lord please keep my child in the faith…if it be Your will”? Of course it’s His will, what’s Jesus doing on that painful cross if salvation wasn’t His will!?!)
    Every time you were in the worship service and the pastor spoke the “Aaronic benediction” (the Lord bless you and keep you..), your little one was there present within you. Finally remember that God wants all to be saved.
    Again, we can be confident of the fate of the unborn children of God’s children. I hope this is a comfort to the many of you who had been through this in your own families. I hope this is an encouragement to all people to make worship a regular part of your lives—as we found out in February, you never know when that comfort is all you will have to lean on.
    Now, since not everyone has heard how our baby’s story in this world ended, let me return to it. We had decided not to find out the baby’s gender, wanting to wait and be surprised in June, and so we were working on a list of names for both boys and girls so we’d be ready for the happy day.
    The night before the procedure, as we cried together, we changed our minds on a few things. First, we wanted to pick a name for this child—we didn’t want to go through the rest of our lives referring to “the baby”. Secondly, we wanted to know what the gender of our little baby was. And thirdly, we decided to ask the doctor is he could possibly make a set of footprints for us.
    We chose a name which we had previously decided to cross off our list of possible girl’s names. Now, boy or girl, it seemed appropriate. We decided to name our baby “Charis,” it’s the Greek word for “grace.” It’s pronounced “kar – is”. We chose this name because we know that by God’s grace we will one day meet Charis face to face.
    After an hour in the operating room, the doctor came out to tell me that Melissa came through the procedure fine; that our baby, Charis, was a boy. It might seem like all we have of our son are marks of his little hands and feet on paper, but in reality we have much more.
    We have a God who gave up His Only Son to save helpless people like Charis and Melissa and myself. We have a Savior who never had to face death, but did—because He loves us much, much more than Himself.
    We all have those promises of God’s love. I leave you with the words of Psalm 71:5-7. Words we found the night before our baby was taken away for the rest of this life. These words are for all of God’s children—born and unborn.
    You are my hope, O Almighty Lord. You have been my confidence ever since I was young. I depended on You before I was born. You took me from my mother’s womb. My songs of praise constantly speak about You. I have become an example to many people, but You are my strong defense. Psalm 71:5-7

  6. Melissa on said:

    One more post since I am missing our Charis, our nieces and nephews and others taken Home before dear ones were able to cradle their young ones. I wrote this for my sister and her husband, and for myself.

    Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
    Light and momentary?
    How can such intense heartache be spoken of so glibly?
    Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died!
    We know that ache.
    That wasting away.
    Where are you, God?
    You know we wanted a child, but now You have not just taken a child, you have taken our child. We weren’t in love with the concept, we were head over heels in love with THIS child.
    This child who is no more.
    And our other three? How do we comfort them? Don’t you hear their cries? See their tears?
    Don’t you care, Lord?
    Light and momentary?
    No! This hurts too much.
    These scars will never go away!
    Yet, the One with perfectly scarred hands, says,
    “Be still.”
    “Know.”
    “I am God.”
    The One who forsook His only Son while He cried out knows the ache of your heart.
    The depth of your hurt.
    Forsaken so your dear one never was.
    Forsaken so you have real comfort.
    Real answers.
    Real hope.
    Your child has a real future.
    Now.
    Held in the scarred hands of the One.
    That is where you all are.
    Together.
    Upheld in His righteous right hand.
    Fix your eyes on the unseen.
    Soon those tears will be wiped from your eyes.
    From Eoghan’s.
    Cash’s.
    Gia’s.
    Mine.
    Yours.
    The only scars remaining will be beautiful, and they won’t be ours.
    Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
    Come, Emmanuel.

  7. lorimennis on said:

    Chad, I am the editor of Still Standing Magazine. Would you mind contacting me at info.stillstandingmag@gmail.com?
    Thanks!
    Lori

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