Pregnancy Loss and the Gospel

Pregnancy Loss and the Gospel

One beautiful Pennsylvania afternoon in July, my husband Jeremy and I started our life together as man and wife. We had hopes for a lot of things, chief among them that God would bless us with children. Shortly after we moved into our apartment, I became pregnant with our first little one. We were overjoyed and excited with all the changes that had taken place so quickly in our lives. We could not have loved that baby more. However, mere days after we found out we were pregnant, we lost Acacia Jordan. Before we even had the chance to announce the pregnancy, our baby was gone. It was incredibly difficult to tell people that we had been pregnant, but that we had lost the baby. And while we received some support, early pregnancy loss is still a subject that makes many people uncomfortable. We felt alone in our grief, and told a limited number of people about our loss because the pain of getting mixed reactions was so great. God had blessed us with a child, but He had also taken our child away.

Emotional pain compounded with months of physical complications from the miscarriage led me to pray, brokenhearted, but with nothing to ask for. My baby was gone, and nothing could fix that. Even though I knew that my baby was with God, my arms and womb were empty. Morning sickness beginning after the miscarriage, which I later learned was common, seemed like the picture of cruelty. I did not know what to pray, so I trusted the Holy Spirit to translate my groaning into intercession (Romans 8:26). With time, the pain was still there, but the waves of grief were less frequent.

Then, five months later, that spark of life again became apparent to me. Jeremy and I lived in the moment, rejoicing each day for this baby, but when the bleeding started, I lost all hope of carrying this pregnancy to term. Ashley Brook joined eternity, never conscious of life here on earth.

I will not minimize the grief that sometimes still washes over us, nor apologize for the way that two pregnancies in one year have taken a toll on my physically. We have allowed ourselves space to mourn and heal. And in the midst of all of this, God has shown Himself closer to our everyday experience than we ever imagined.

In the thick of grief, I could not concentrate on reading- I couldn’t even string together a coherent prayer- but with time I began reading the Scripture again. I read the book of Job first, mostly to see if and how I should ask God why. When I got to the end, I realized that I didn’t care why my babies were gone, it mattered to me that they were gone. I think that this is why Jesus reacted the way He did to the death of Lazarus in John 11. The Creator of reason, when faced with death, offered no rationalization. He offered His grief and His tears. He offered Himself. When He told Martha about the miracle He would do, He was talking about actual bodily resurrection that day, and not sometime in the distant future. Martha had apparently heard the “better place” cliché still used today because she misunderstood Him at first. When He arrived at the grave, He simply wept with those who mourned (Romans 12:15). It comforted me to realize that God was not going to explain away what happened or how Jeremy and I felt, even when these two precious babies were basking in His presence. The reality of their peace and rest in no way trivializes our sorrow at their absence. He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), and He is a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3).

God’s Word embraces the uncomfortable topic of death in all its messiness and tears. In the form of a conversation with some friends, He revealed the power of the Gospel to us relating to pregnancy loss. We had some friends over for dinner, who had also lost a baby. Jeremy had given me a calligraphy set for Christmas, so our kitchen had some of the Westminster Shorter Catechism copied out and hanging on some twine. Our friends had not heard about the catechism, so we were telling them a little about it. The first question is, “What is the chief end of man?” And the answer, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” One friend remarked that it was incredible to think that the children we had lost had done all that in such a short amount of time. I didn’t catch it right then, but later that night my head was buzzing not with Job’s why, but with how. How, in such a short amount of time, could my babies accomplish what I seem to fail at daily?

Before my babies even knew they existed, their very existence, being knit together in God’s image and chosen by Him, glorified God because of who He is. Just as their eternal enjoyment is bound up in His presence, so is their glory to Him. And with this realization, I understood a little more the love of God and the comfort He was giving us. Just like my babies glorify God simply by being and being His, I too glorify God just by being the new creation that He has made me. He loves me, not for my sake, but because that is who He is. Paul rhetorically asks, “Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35) He says nothing can- it’s not contingent on us. I please God because He has made me pleasing to Him. I please God not as an action that I do, but as a state of being based on what He has done in dying for me and making me a new creation.

I know now what it means to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. But I know that I need not fear any evil- He is with me, with comfort for today’s tears and love deep enough to sustain me. God has shown me His Gospel in a new light. We must be like the littlest of little children, the unborn, and do nothing but receive the grace that God so freely pours out. The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

 

JeremyBeverlyBeverly McLaughlin and her husband, Jeremy, live in Sweetwater, TN and attend Cornerstone Family Church.

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