A few weeks after our son’s first birthday, we learned we were pregnant. This news came as a complete surprise. Initially, we were overwhelmed, but who were we to question God’s plan for our family? We trusted he would provide us with what we needed.
A little over a month later, we rejoiced to hear the tiny hoofbeat sound of our 7-week-old fetus’s beating heart. We were thrilled to be expecting our second child. We let our family and close friends in on the good news. We cried with our friends struggling with infertility as they rejoiced with us. I told our son he was going to be a big brother and we planned our pregnancy announcement photo.
I walked into our next appointment with no anxiety; I’d been terribly sick and was completely confident we were having a healthy pregnancy. After a lot of searching and silence, the doctor informed me the baby no longer had a heartbeat. I was utterly shocked. They waited for my husband to arrive to tell us our options. I listened as well as I could, considered them, and then said I didn’t want to do any of them. I wanted to carry this baby to term and for my children to be 21 months apart, but that wasn’t a choice. They sent us home to grieve before making our decision.
Today, two days later, we’re still processing. But even as we grieve and wait to miscarry, God is faithfully revealing himself to us through his Word. We’re learning so much, particularly these five things.
1. God is good.
The fact that the baby in my body is now lifeless doesn’t mean God isn’t good. It points to the reality that our world is fallen and in need of saving. This is the closest I’ve ever been to death (it’s literally inside of me, where life should be) and yet I’ve never seen God’s goodness more clearly than I do now in his provision of Jesus to defeat death finally and forever. We’re abundantly blessed through the gift of his Son. We’ve experienced his comfort, delighted in the truth of his Word, and rejoiced in his provision like never before in the past few days.
2. Our hope isn’t in earthly things.
Upon hearing our news, many have tried to comfort us by saying, “There will be more babies.” While we appreciate the sentiment and acknowledge the gift it is to know my body can carry a baby to term, this isn’t the source of our hope. We may never be able to conceive again, or we may conceive and lose more children.
Our hope comes from our confidence in God’s sovereignty, his character, and his promises. When we read “all things work together for good” (Rom. 8:28), that good isn’t necessarily the growth of our family; we read it and are comforted that God works all things for his own glory, which is inexplicably tied to our good. We’re confident he will use this experience to make us more like Jesus, to teach us to trust him, and to give us the ability to comfort others. But our greatest hope comes from the finished work of Jesus. Those who hope in him lack no good thing.
3. We aren’t immune to suffering.
Life can change in an instant. This is our first experience as a couple with true grief. Our married life has been relatively free of trouble apart from the relational consequences of our own selfishness and sin. This experience reminds us that being followers of Jesus doesn’t mean everything is going to go well. In fact, the Bible is clear that being a Christian means we can expect suffering. We’re grateful for the opportunity to be near to Jesus by being acquainted with sorrow. May we always be so protected from loving ease and finding security in our circumstances as we’ve been the past few days.
4. It’s not ‘all for nothing.’
I’m tempted to resent my lingering pregnancy symptoms and believe this was all some sort of cruel joke. “What’s the point?” the enemy whispers, as he seeks to enter my mind through the doorway of cynicism. But in the kingdom of God, nothing is wasted. He works all things for good. Enduring this nausea and fatigue may not be rewarded with the birth of a baby, but suffering makes me more like Jesus, and I have an inheritance kept for me in heaven that cannot perish.
5. ‘The secret things belong to God.’
We have lots of questions. What caused the baby to die? Could we have prevented its death? Why surprise us, make us excited, and then shock us with loss? Did God receive our baby? Will its resurrected body be a fetus? Will we be able to conceive again when we want to?
But those questions only lead to anxiety, dead ends, and frustrations. Instead, we will cling to what we know, to what God has revealed. As Moses put it, “The secret things belong to God, but the things revealed belong to us and our children forever” (Deut. 29:29). So we labor to entrust the “secret things” to a sovereign and good Father, believing he is more on our side than we could ever be.
One day these things won’t be remembered, but we’ll be glad and rejoice forever in what God will create. There won’t be any more crying or distress; there won’t be any more dying babies or people taken too young, but only flourishing (Isa. 65). For now we take comfort in God’s promise that he is with us, that he is for us, and that he upholds us with his righteous right hand.