Have you ever felt so jolted by a life event that it shook you to the core of your faith? Yes, I was brokenhearted at the loss of this hoped-for baby girl. But I also had many questions of faith as well.Have you ever felt so jolted by an event in your life that it shook you to the core of your faith? Yes, I was brokenhearted at the loss of this hoped-for baby girl. Click To Tweet
That’s how I felt that horrible day in 1970 when we realized our first daughter had died and would be stillborn. I hardly knew anyone who had had a stillborn child. I could count the people on one hand! Meanwhile, we were working in a church with teens and college aged students who were getting married right and left. Some were conceiving before marriage with healthy births.
Why were we having so much trouble? First we had a miscarriage, now this. It wasn’t fair! (Talk about a deadend when it comes to resolving pain and grief!) Fair does not exist in this lifetime. It just does not! But I was too young to realize that back then.
I do remember one very disheartening comment, stated in a prayer
The days after her death and birth were a dark blur. The words of our pastor (and Ron’s boss) were like a knife when he prayed with us and said, “Lord, help us not to question your ways.” It was all I could do not to scream. But I was too tired and sad to react. I knew he was not the safe place for me to go when I needed to process my grief.
In the months after, as we grieved our lonely loss, there were no meals and few words of comfort. Yes, a few. Mostly, people didn’t know what to say. They hugged us. I didn’t fault them. What can you say? It is sad for your friends to lose their first, very anticipated child to death while many of their friends are having babies all around them. This is not a loss that has a neat, tidy answer for Christians…for anyone actually! In fact, for many, it makes them very uncomfortable. They want to explain it…and it is impossible. But when we offer comfort, our purpose is not to explain why the event happened, as I once thought. It is simply to share the load of sorrow with our loved one…even if you didn’t know them very well before.
What do I wish I had known then that I know now?
- I wish I had known as surely as I do now, that GOD does want my questions of faith. It is the struggling with Him that many have done in the past both in Scripture and throughout history, that deepens our relationship with Him. It often happens during the grieving process. I didn’t really go through it until a few years later when my father died and I grieved both deaths.
- I wish I had understood how comforting it is to come to terms with GOD’s sovereignty over my life. Who IS in charge of us ultimately? The Eternal One who created everything and knows the end from the beginning? or us? Does He really love us at a deep level? Does He really know best? How do we know? The questions go on and on but they suddenly aren’t simply Sunday School answers. They are answers we have to dig for and believe from our gut! We are putting all the Bible verses we ever learned and all the Biblical truth we thought we believed and finding out if we actually believe it. Do we understand what we say we have believed all those years? Have we put it into our own words and made it into our beliefs, not just words on a page?
- I wish I had understood how encouraging simple words and actions were. I came to learn that encouraging words don’t have to be lofty or spoken well. They just have to be heartfelt…and come in many forms. I learned not to be critical of those offering comfort…because there were so few! Some offered it in forms other than words. That was fine. Comfort and encouragement was such a rare gift, it was received like water to a very thirsty woman! A meal was encouraging, but so was a visit or even a distraction. I didn’t try to figure out the motives of those offering comfort. That was GOD’s problem. Often their words didn’t come out right at all. But I knew they cared about me and that helped so much!
- I wish I had understood how much this grief would bond my husband and me together. While it is true that we grieved very differently, the one thing we shared was this very intimate loss. No one shared this loss in the same way we did. It bonded us together in a way not much else could have. We cried together at times. We remembered the dates. Anything that promotes oneness for a couple is a good thing. It’s often difficult to appreciate some of those things at the time.
- I wish I had appreciated how much Jesus would help in the healing of my broken heart. Ultimately, when all the questions are asked and answered to the degree it is possible, people have offered the comfort they can, and we have talked out our grief, there is one final source for healing that only Jesus can provide. He promises to heal broken hearts. He doesn’t give a time limit on that promise.
These are a few ways our daughter’s death deepened us. The days and months after were sad and dark. I can’t minimize that period of time. Superimposed on it was a major move for us. We became missionaries and moved to Jamaica 6 months later. I’m glad it wasn’t a more major move. I’m not sure I would have been up for it. But GOD knew that when he put us in that place at that time.
Because by the time we moved to Jamaica in January, I was pregnant again. Back to back pregnancies like that are not easy on a person and combined with a major move…well, it isn’t always the wisest mix.
So what is the take-away for you?
Jesus came to heal the broken hearted, among others.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
That is truly a beautiful picture of GOD making us into beautiful oaks of righteousness for His glory isn’t it?
Or imagine the beautiful headdress instead of ashes of mourning.
Or being clothed with a garment of praise instead of being clothed with a faint spirit?
Isn’t it interesting to read of those contrasts?
But it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over time.
This is something to think about this week.