By Lindsey Bell
“I’m just paranoid. Our baby is fine.” As I drove to my 12-week ultrasound appointment, I couldn’t ignore the feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. We had never miscarried before, but something about this pregnancy didn’t feel right. Regardless of how hard I tried to convince myself the baby was healthy, my heart refused to believe. I guess it knew better. Or maybe God was preparing me for the days ahead.
As soon as our baby appeared on the ultrasound screen, I knew my fears were legitimate. There was no flickering heartbeat like we had seen at our last appointment. There was no movement. Only a still, lifeless baby. The child we couldn’t wait to hold was gone.
Two months later, we were pregnant again. Part of me was scared, but I also felt confident in this pregnancy. After all, God surely wouldn’t allow me to miscarry twice in three months. My God is a God of love, not of suffering. Sure, God might allow painful circumstances into our lives from time to time, but he only allows them so he can redeem them. In my mind, one miscarriage was enough to learn what I needed to learn. I certainly didn’t need two to find God’s purpose for my pain. At least, that’s what I thought at the time.
The Call that Changed Everything
Then the phone rang, and a nurse from my doctor’s office shattered my belief. “I don’t want to crush all of your hopes,” she paused. “But it doesn’t look good.” I made an appointment for the following day and spent the night in prayer and Bible study. I read verses that gave me hope like, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7) and “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). By the time my appointment rolled around, I expected a miracle. God was going to prove my doctor wrong. I even wore mascara to the appointment, my attempt to show God I believed.
But once again, the ultrasound showed a lifeless form. God hadn’t done the miracle. He hadn’t answered my prayers. In the months following this second miscarriage, I wrestled with God daily. I couldn’t understand why he allowed this much pain into my life when he could have prevented it. I pounded him with questions but only heard silence. Over and over again, I asked him:
“Why again, God?”
“Where are you now?”
God didn’t answer my questions (at least not completely), but neither did he ignore them. He used my unanswered questions to teach me what to do when he chooses not to speak.
Confiding in Others
I’m a self-sufficient person. I don’t like asking for help. I think it’s because of a faulty assumption many of us make. We assume only the weak ask for help, when quite the opposite is true. It takes a strong person to recognize his or her need for help.
After our second miscarriage, I denied help from others for about three months. Blame it on my pride or on my desire to “witness through my pain,” but I didn’t want other people to realize how upset I truly was. It was only when I reached for help from my friends and family that I finally started to work through my emotions.
God doesn’t regularly come to earth to comfort us (at least not for me or for anyone I know). But he does something else. He sends other people into our lives. He uses moms, dads, siblings, friends, and coworkers as his representatives—his hands and feet to those who need him most. However, if we don’t confide in other people, they won’t know we need help. They can’t do God’s work if they don’t know his work needs to be done.
Asking the Right Questions
When a tragedy hits, we tend to ask the wrong questions. We ask why and focus on the reason for our pain. After our second miscarriage, I prayed daily for God to explain why we miscarried. I longed to understand his reasoning and thought that if I understood, I could have peace again. What I didn’t realize, though, was that knowing why would never satisfy me. Sure, I wanted to know. I claimed that if I understood, I could move on. But honestly, I wanted more than just a simple answer. I wanted God to turn back time and heal my child. I wanted him to fix it, not just tell me why he didn’t.
I’ve finally learned a better question to ask. Instead of “Why?” ask, “What’s next? Now that this has happened, what should I do next?” We can’t control life. We can’t control which storms hit us and which ones skip our homes. The only thing we can control is how we react to the rain.
Letting Yourself Grieve
Some people think certain emotions are off-limits for Christians. For instance, a true Christian would
never feel angry with God. A true Christian would never grieve like someone who didn’t have the hope of Heaven. A true Christian wouldn’t be jealous of those who never seem to struggle. Anytime I felt an emotion I thought I wasn’t supposed to feel, I stuffed it. I buried it under layers of pretension and hoped it would never rear its ugly head again.
Unfortunately, buried emotions only stay buried for so long. Eventually, they come out. If you allow yourself to grieve, they’ll come out in a healthy way. If you don’t, they’ll come out some other way—through a heated discussion with a family member or through a blow up at work.
God gave us emotions so we would use them, not bury them. Whether the loss is a family member, a dream, health, a job, a pet, or a friendship, God designed us to grieve the loss.
Looking to God
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Does that mean he’ll never allow a tragedy to hit us? Absolutely not. Does it mean he’ll always provide a clear answer as to why something bad happened? No. But it does mean that if we’ll let him, he’ll use everything—even our pain—to bring something positive. In the months after our miscarriages, I sometimes wondered if God still loved me. I mistakenly equated my pain with his abandonment. What I didn’t realize, though, was that sometimes we need pain to see God more fully.
A couple of months after our miscarriage, while I was in the midst of these doubts, Robin Sigars, senior minister with the Carterville (Missouri) Christian Church, spoke about the Saturday after Jesus died. It was on this day the disciples probably lost hope, asked God why, and maybe even questioned God’s presence in their lives. We tend to focus on Good Friday and Easter Sunday and ignore Saturday. We shouldn’t. Because Saturday was the day the disciples prepared for Easter. Saturday was the day that got them ready for the resurrection. They needed it so they could see their Savior on Sunday.
I doubt I’ll ever know why God allowed us to miscarry two babies in three months (at least not this side of Heaven). But I’m learning to be okay with not knowing. After all, it’s not my job to understand. It’s my job to trust him, regardless. It’s my job to look for the Savior in the storm.
Lindsey Bell is an author and stay-at-home mother. She blogs about her miscarriages at www.livingwholeagain.blogspot.com and lives in Carterville, Missouri.
Five Questions to Ask During Times of Trial
1. What’s next?
2. What can I learn from this trial?
3. How might God want to use it?
4. Who can I lean on for support?
5. What character traits could God build in my life because of this trial?
How to Help Following a Miscarriage
1. Pay a visit.
2. Call or send e-mails, cards, or Facebook messages.
3. Provide meals.
4. Remember their baby with them. (Pay special attention to due dates or dates of loss.)
5. Do something special. Plant a tree in honor of the child.
6. Buy them something in remembrance of the baby: a necklace, a Willow Tree statue, a blanket, a remembrance box, or an ultrasound frame.
7. Write a poem or letter in honor of the baby.
8. Send them a link to a powerful song.
9. Talk about the baby like a real child. (After all, it is.)
10. Ask how they are doing. Even if they don’t want to talk about it, it shows them you care.
11. Encourage them to feel whatever emotion they are feeling (even if you don’t understand).
12. Don’t pressure them to talk if they’re not ready.
13. Don’t offer simplistic responses such as, “You just have to trust God’s timing,” or “Don’t worry. It’ll happen soon.” Just listen.