Olive June Boga was born Wednesday, October 31, 2018. She was no bigger than the distance between two of my knuckles, but she had beautiful eyes, a heart, fingers, and toes. She was, and remains, our daughter. We cared for her as best we could, and we love her with our whole hearts.
Olive June was miscarried at eight weeks.
For a few short weeks, we had anticipated a second child to hold in our arms. We had envisioned our son playing with his sibling. We had joyfully expected knowing, seeing, and raising our child. We had wrapped our own hearts around the beautiful, rhythmic flutter we heard just a day earlier. And all of it vanished in one terrible, unforgettable day.
All three of us lay on the bathroom floor weeping, cut deeper than any knife could go. I’m a husband and father. I can’t even begin to imagine the multiplied pain for my wife—who bore our child’s life and our child’s death in her own body. In that bathroom, mother and father were mourning what we knew was lost, our nearly 2-year-old son was clinging to us and crying with us because he didn’t know what was wrong—but he knew something was. Our loss was, and remains, a family pain.
In our pain, God isn’t aloof. Even (maybe especially) in pain, he is working. He is making good out of evil. He is molding us into the image of his Son. He is using the pain to persevere us to the end, as he’s promised. He is expanding our experience of his goodness, faithfulness, mercy, and love. He is providing for us. Yes, even in the pain.
In the pain, our minds wandered. We wondered things like: How can God be good when he allows something like this to happen? and Does he really love us?
Is God good, even when tragedy strikes? Yes. See the God-man dying for his enemies on the cross.
Does God even care about our pain? Yes. Look at Christ willingly bearing immeasurable pain for us on the cross.
Does God really love us? Yes. Gaze on his Son (the second person of the triune God) given for us on the cross.
Even when our experience is telling us otherwise, when the enemy is whispering fallacies about God, the testimony of the cross in louder. God’s resounding answer to all our questions in our pain is, “Look to the cross.”
Even when our experience is telling us otherwise, when the enemy is whispering fallacies about God, the testimony of the cross is louder.
Knowing our Bibles well—having the reservoir of God’s Word and a trustworthy theological bedrock—enabled us to see God clearly even in the midst of pain (Job 42:1–6).
God has given us the local church for times like this. To rejoice with us when we’re rejoicing, and weep with us when we’re weeping. God was, and is, with us by his Spirit through his church.
The nurse at our office visit the day after the miscarriage was saddened for us because we had to “un-tell” everyone we had told. We understood her concern, but this was the exact reason we decided to tell people early. Our closest friends and family had already joined us in rejoicing. So, when the worst happened, they immediately mourned with us.
This meant we had brothers and sisters coming over and quietly sitting with us. Some sent kind words. Some sent meals. Some sent Scripture. Some waited at a distance as to not overwhelm us in our time of mourning. But everyone was praying. We felt cared for through their prayers. We felt God’s body nurturing itself. We felt loved.
That first Sunday church service was, emotionally, the hardest worship service I can remember. But there was no place that we would’ve rather been—surrounded by people who love us and worshiping our God. We prayed through tears, we wept with brothers and sisters, we ate from the Lord’s table, and we listened to God’s Word.
We also sang of his goodness, faithfulness, and love. It was an act of faith for us to lift hands in affirmation and sing through our tears. But God is those things, and our momentary experience doesn’t erase the truth of who he is.
Through his church, God has given us a family that is unified not by the blood in our veins but by the blood poured out of his. His body given, and blood shed, have provided unmatched intimacy with our fellow worshipers.
For the six months before the miscarriage, I had been meditating on our union with Christ, the seated victor. This too was God’s providence.
In this season of grief, we’ve taken great comfort from knowing Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father. Laborers don’t sit until the work is finished. Kings take their thrones after the battle is won.
The fact that Jesus is seated means when he said, “It is finished,” he meant it. The tomb is empty because its captive is risen, ascended, and seated on his throne. Our baby is, right now, in the presence of the risen and conquering King. She’s experiencing a more perfect love than we could ever give her. And someday we’ll see her again.
Christ has won. Death doesn’t have the final word. The sway of sin is broken. Every tear will be wiped away, and death will be no more. There will be no more mourning, crying, or pain. One day we’ll know nothing but never-ending joy, and we’ll see that God has worked all of it, even the death of our daughter, for good.
No other religion or worldview can offer this hope. We have an unbreakable hope, one that says we’ll one day be physically with our Savior, and we’ll also physically hold our daughter. We believe our child is with the King, and, while we wish she were in our arms, we’ll wait with patience, expectancy, and hope for the day we’ll be there too.