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Comfort For Couples Who Have Had A Miscarriage

Although I've never met Vanessa from Bible, Beer And Babies and her husband, I do consider them "friends" even if that "friendship" is confined to the Christian Blogosphere and entirely virtual. Such is the nature of being Christians and a part of the same Body of Christ in this world.

So, it was with great sadness that I read about their unexpected loss this morning. As a father of two small children who certainly wouldn't mind having another little one some day in the near future (God willing, of course), I can't even begin to imagine the range of emotions and thoughts that they're experiencing right now.

For those who have suffered a miscarriage, I pray that you find these words comforting and helpful.

Looking To Christ In The Loss Of A Child 
The loss of a child is painful, deeply painful. 
Fifteen years ago, my wife and I experienced our first certain miscarriage. I was a new dad, and then, just like that, it was over. The loss was so unexpected. The ache went deep, to my soul’s core. And in the midst of my own sorrow and weeping, I was attempting to care for my grieving wife. For two years and three months, she battled with God, until her sense of his sovereignty was matched by the torrent of his love. 
Four years ago, our lives were rocked into mourning again when an attempted adoption failed. I was out with my son building bunk beds for him and his soon-to-be brother, when the call came. The little three-year old orphan who so desperately needed a family, whom we had already grown to love as our own, who would bear my name in just seven more days –– this child would remain an orphan and no longer be adoptable. Our hearts were crushed as we entered into a fresh season of God proving his worth above all else. 
Looking To Jesus 
Why does the God of heaven and earth give only to take away? There are so many reasons that I have already learned, but an unexpected note is struck in Zechariah 12:10. 
Over five hundred years before Gethsemane and Golgotha, God declares, 
I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. 
There’s a direct relationship between the glory of Christ and the loss of a child. The mournful night and piercing pain, the throbbing of soul and the sobbing of loss –– these are all designed to be benchmarks for the type of grief that our own beings should feel over the death Christ bore on our behalf. 
“He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). It was horrible. Gut-wrenching. More terrible than words can describe. But in it, he made a way for our grief to be borne and our sorrow carried –– a way for us to be healed (Isaiah 53:4–5; 1 Peter 2:24). In the words of Zechariah, on the day when God’s own Son was pierced, “a fountain [was] opened . . . to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness” (Zechariah 13:1). He took the worst kind of pain to heal our ultimate pain. 
Promised Help 
We hear Peter’s words, “This Jesus . . . you crucified” (Acts 2:23), and with the crowd we are “cut to the heart” and declare, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Our grief is great, and then the glorious truths ring in our ears, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38) and “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). Salvation breaks the sorrow. Glory comes not despite the grief, but precisely because of it. 
When the mourning of loss is matched by faith in Jesus, there are fresh mercies with every dawn, all because we know what it means to look on the one who was pierced for us. In this, we have hope and promised help for our battle against sin and for the times when those we love are gone. In Christ, grief will not have the last word.


My Baby's Heart Stopped Beating 
A few days ago, my husband and I flew to San Diego, my favorite city to visit. I was sitting in the row behind him, almost giddy from excitement, eager for a reprieve from the stress that had plagued me for the last two weeks. 
I was beside a woman who was speaking rather loudly on her phone about her friend who was pregnant again. She obnoxiously retorted that her friend’s husband tells her she’s most beautiful when she’s pregnant, “Probably just to get more kids out of her,” she quipped. I kept eavesdropping for a while until I looked over and saw that the woman on the phone was also pregnant. 
Then I had an ugly moment. 
How come she gets to keep her baby but I don’t? She seems to hate kids. I love them. This isn’t fair. 
As soon as the thought came to my head, I felt horribly guilty. I know you’re not supposed to think those things, and when you do, it’s certainly not nice to admit them. But there it was, clear as day: I was jealous. 
Goodbye Bliss 
When my husband and I found out we were expecting, we weren’t surprised. Sure, I had the shocked moment of staring at the test, hands shaking, eyes wide, motherhood looming over me. But even though Phillip and I had only been married for a month, I’d grown up hearing my dad joke about his and my mom’s efficiency (I was born ten months after they were married). Not to mention, I grew up in a church community where children follow marriage as inexorably as night follows day. Two of my friends and their husbands who were married earlier than me last year just welcomed newborns a week apart. 
I debated over whether to tell anyone we were expecting, knowing that the risk of miscarriage is highest during the first trimester. For my husband, it was a no-brainer: Let people rejoice with us while we rejoice. And if there’s mourning, we’ll mourn together (Romans 12:15). I still waited two weeks before making it public, but told my friends and coworkers the news right away. 
And then I started worrying. 
I am a worrier by nature, and the nail-biting extended to my new pregnancy. I spent six weeks waking up in night sweats, afraid that something had happened to my child — the little-bitty blueberry who I already loved so much. Then, during the seventh week, I felt I had arrived at a safer place. I was calmer, able to enjoy my changing body and the wonder of the child growing inside. 
I didn’t know that by then my baby’s heart had stopped beating. 
When the ultrasound informed us, I felt the biggest gut-pain I had ever experienced in my life. It still hurts. It always will, I suppose. 
What’s It For? 
The worst thing that I had imagined happening for the past few weeks happened two weeks ago. I lay on the floor in our apartment hurting physically, emotionally, and spiritually, battling more pain in every way than I had ever felt, and I screamed, “Why?” 
I’m a “good Christian girl” from a “good Christian family,” so I know not to ask, “Why me?” Yes, of course, I deserve death, hell, and the grave (Romans 3:23). In those hardest moments, the Sunday school answer that I was doing “better than I deserved” echoed within me. But still, I couldn’t help but feel cheated. 
Here I was in excruciating pain, tears streaming — for a baby that caused me so much joy in such a short span of time — a baby I would never get to hold. 
The minute I found out I was pregnant, I became anxious to meet the little person who the Lord had blessed me to mother. I wondered about his or her future, his or her place in my home, his or her impact on our lives. I grew to love that person more and more every day. 
Sometimes we cannot help but ask: “God, what are you doing?” 
I love children. I grew up around them, I teach them, I want a household full of them. I couldn’t wait to be a mother — I couldn’t wait to care for my own child. But now my child was dead. I felt like the psalmist: “What profit is my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?” (Psalm 30:9). Sometimes we cannot help but ask: God, what are you doing? 
His Undaunted Purpose 
Even in that excruciating pain, the Lord’s suffering on my behalf came to bear. 
And I don’t mean I sat there singing “Amazing Grace” while waves of pain and grief flooded my heart. It was far from a pretty sight. I cried out to God — literal, guttural cries — and felt close to the suffering Savior who had experienced even more excruciating pain for me, not because he lost a child, but because he gave his all to bring lost children home. 
He gives purpose to our suffering (Romans 8:28). My miscarriage didn’t happen in a vacuum. Both my child and I were created in God’s image, designed for his glory. My intentions for my child’s life were not the Lord’s intentions, and my timetable was not his timetable. He chose for that tiny person’s purpose to be fulfilled through seven weeks of life. He chose for my purpose to be further revealed through the death of that little one. 
He chose me to be my child’s mother for seven weeks. He chose for my husband and I to learn to walk together through the hormonal hazes, for my husband to show sacrificial love to his weary wife. He chose for us to walk through sorrow together, and to proclaim his greatness even through our pain (Job 13:15). 
I got to be a mom. It was only for a moment, but it was a beautiful moment. I hope I get to be a mom again, but even if that doesn’t happen, God is good. And his purposes for me are sure. My little slice of motherhood continues to show me different angles of God’s good character and things about myself that I never could have learned without my baby. For that, I’m grateful. God is the author of life, and the only all-satisfying one. He will fulfill his purpose for us (Psalm 57:2), and by that, I am comforted.

I'm not sure who the source of all that is, but I suspect it was from John Piper and his ministry if I can read my notes properly from awhile ago. It really doesn't matter though. I just wanted to try to give credit where credit is due and not give the impression that I had somehow written that all by myself.

In any event, they were written by someone else who had experienced the deep pain of having a miscarriage just like Vanessa and her family.

Miscarriage is a painful reminder that "childbirth is not automatic" as one Christian writer put it.

Childbirth is not automatic. The world is cursed. And this curse has encroached on every inch of this world and has even invaded the wombs of women. Sin’s sword is death and it has been mercilessly taking lives since that fateful day in the garden. 
I have been learning through these years that children are indeed a gift from the LORD. He gave them. He created them. He sustains them. His fingerprints are all over this. 
Since this time we have had other miscarriages, at which time we have grieved and prayed for mercy and comfort. But God has also been well pleased to bless us with two beautiful daughters. They stand alongside of our other children as murals of divine mercy, love, care, kindness, and grace. God did not have to give us anything, he could have given us anything, but he chose to give us this amazing thing: children. Amazing. 
I am challenged on a regular basis when I hug my kids and feel their heartbeats to give God glory for his abundant kindness and power as the Creator. Childbirth is not automatic. And to have children is truly a blessing that should redound in hearty, zealous, humble thanksgiving.

I know that Vanessa and her family don't need to be reminded of those truths.

I simply wanted to include them in this piece as a reminder to myself and to others like me who have never come face-to-face with losing a baby due to a miscarriage and/or stillbirth.

Please note that in addition to reading the Bible, visiting with your Pastor, and praying, there are free resources out there that may be able to help you as you grieve the loss of your loved one.

For instance, Martin Luther's "Comfort For Women Who Have Had A Miscarriage" is a good place to start. What I particularly like about that one is that Luther comforts women who have lost their children specifically to miscarriage and bases the child's salvation on God's promise to hear the prayers of Christians. A true comfort to a hurting heart indeed!

I would imagine that it's also very helpful to connect with other people who have gone through the same thing. Here's one commentary from another Christian woman following her miscarriage and another here as well. Then there's also Mary Brown’s "A Very Lonely Pain" that I've heard is extremely helpful on a practical level. Finally, Katie Schuermann has an excellent Lutheran blog devoted to this subject and she's also written a book about it too.

My dear friends, please join me in praying for Vanessa and her family and that the Lord would comfort them and give them "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7) even in the midst of unfathomable grief and heartache.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, may all those who have experienced a miscarriage at least take comfort in the promises of God and know that their little one is now with Him.

NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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