“Why is this happening to me? What did I do wrong? Is this some kind of punishment, God?”
As I curled up in bed with a growing mountain of tissues beside me, I sobbed out these questions, but got no answers.
Earlier that morning, my husband and I had been so excited to finally see our baby for the first time through an ultrasound. As the gynaecologist conducted the ultrasound scan, our hearts sank as her face scrunched up into a frown and she delivered crushing news that we never thought we’d hear. There was no heartbeat to be found. The baby had stopped growing two weeks ago and, sorry, but there will be no baby to hold and love at the end of the year. We left the clinic in a daze and took a taxi home, where I proceeded to go straight into my bedroom and cry for the rest of the day.
FINDING HOPE WHEN ALL SEEMS LOST
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt the dark grip of despair? When I was ten and was being severely bullied in school, I felt like I had reached the furthest extent of hopelessness. When I was 18 and went through a season of debilitating anxiety and insomnia, I thought that it couldn’t get any worse than this. And at 27, the loss of what should have been my firstborn pushed me deep into the depths of distress like I had never experienced before.
And yet, strangely, there was a peace in me that I could not understand. Throughout history, saints in the faith have expressed deep trust and continual hope in God even through the worst situations. Horatio Spafford famously wrote the song “It Is Well with My Soul” after experiencing the devastating loss of his four daughters in a tragic shipwreck. Richard Wurmbrand, a pastor tortured and imprisoned for his faith in communist Romania declared, “We cannot understand God’s ways, but we know from His word that He is prompted by love.”
What is it that enables the Christian to proclaim such faith in Christ, and to dare to hope again when there really doesn’t seem to be a reason to?
OUR REASON FOR UNENDING HOPE
During my time of grief and mourning, there were two things that kept me afloat:
Knowing God’s character has not changed
As a teen girl, I watched one of my friends lose a parent to cancer, and seeing him hold fast to his faith baffled me! How could he not question God’s goodness after such a devastating loss?
As I went through my own personal tragedy, that incident came back to mind, and this time, I knew the answer: the God I had worshipped for all these years hadn’t changed even though my circumstances had. How many times had I sung, “God is so good, He’s so good to me”? This time, through sobs, a stuffy nose and red swollen eyes, it was more difficult to sing, but no less true. Nothing that could happen to me would change God and His character as known through Jesus Christ (Heb 13:8). He is good, even when what was happening to me didn’t feel good.
NOTHING THAT COULD HAPPEN TO ME WOULD CHANGE GOD AND HIS CHARACTER... GOD IS GOOD, EVEN WHEN WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME DIDN'T FEEL GOOD.
A few days after the miscarriage, I wrote this in my journal:
“It is so painful, God. It is painful and difficult to trust you when the grief is so real and questions abound, unanswered. I’m scared of what trusting You means. If it means going through this again and again, I don’t know what I’ll do. It’s odd how even while there is a desire for answers, what’s overwhelmingly the case for me is just the knowledge that You are still good to us. I don’t know why, but I know God is good.”
Even now, reading my own words, it surprises me that I had the ability to say that. Was it my strong faith or unshakeable conviction in Christ that made me write those words? Far from it! Left on my own, I would have surely sunk into despair and turned away from the “heartless God” who didn’t save my child. But the Holy Spirit worked in me, calling to remembrance everything I have known about God (John 14:26), and that empowered me to say God is not heartless, but a loving God who knows what I need and gives it freely.
GETTING THROUGH THE DARKNESS
Understanding and learning these lessons did not come easy. As much as I knew the truth of God’s Word, there were many times when I struggled to fully believe in it. Maybe you’re going through a similar valley of distress — a struggle with mental health issues, a family member battling sickness, losing a loved one, witnessing a prolonged disagreement within your family — and you feel like you no longer have the ability to place your hope in God again. Here are some things I would strongly encourage you to do:
Meditate on Scripture
Each day, meditating on certain Bible verses and countless others that would come to mind gave me immense comfort. When I felt abandoned, I remembered Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” When I felt angry at my loss, I recalled the promise in Revelation 21:4, “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Each verse soothed my aching heart and gave me confidence in God’s love for me. If you’re going through a trial yourself, spend time in God’s Word and let Him speak through it!
Be honest with God and yourself
The months after the miscarriage were long and hard. In that pit, questions emerged that I didn’t even dare to articulate to anyone for a while.
Do you really love me, God? If You do all things for my good, what is this? How can this be good? Do You even care? Why have You left me to face this alone?
Tears would stream down my face as I sat on my sofa pondering over these questions, battling anger, sorrow and guilt at even questioning God at all. When I shared this with a friend, she said, “God is big enough to handle all of these doubts. You can tell Him. He’s not afraid of your questions.”
That knowledge was liberating for me. The worst thing you can do is to ignore your doubts and questions, letting it cause bitterness and anger that crushes your trust in God. Be honest with God. He can handle it.
When you’re going through a tough time, it is tempting to want to be alone, away from well-meaning friends who give you pitying looks or, worse, say insensitive things that belittle what you’re going through. Sometimes, it’s easier to keep to yourself than to try to explain your situation to people who have never been through it and can never understand. However, the Bible teaches us to live in fellowship (Heb 10:24–25), and to bear each other’s burdens (Gal 6:2). Don’t struggle alone! Let the church bear your burdens and walk the journey with you.
It’s been over a year and a half since our loss, and truth be told, I don’t think it is something we will fully get over, not even when we finally have children. Yet I’ve dared to hope again, fully believing Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4, which reminds me that all trials are merely “light momentary affliction … preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (ESV). I look forward to the day that we live with Christ in eternity, where these moments of hopelessness will no longer taunt us, but can be seen for what it is — “light affliction” that prepared us to be with Christ forevermore.