This post originally appeared on April 8, 2015 on christianitytoday.com
After living in fear, I learned to trust God fully.
Most miscarriages have little to no symptoms, but mine was full of them. Early in pregnancy, things felt off, and I became easily winded and dizzy. A few days after a worried call to my nurse, the bleeding came. I was home, by myself, and in excruciating pain.
When we became pregnant for the first time, we assumed that a baby would come nine months later. Miscarriage never crossed our minds. So many of my friends were having babies, and it all looked so easy. It was a lonely loss.
People said all types of things to encourage me: You’ll get pregnant again.You’ll get to hold your baby in heaven. At least it was early on in the pregnancy. We had announced our pregnancy immediately, so I also had people ask about the baby months after the miscarriage. It felt like a never-ending reminder of our loss.
And then it happened again.
A few months later, thinking the chances of a second miscarriage were slim, we began trying for another. We were thrilled when I became pregnant again, seeing this baby as an answer to our prayers. During this pregnancy, I’d feel something and wonder about a potential miscarriage, but mostly I was just happy to be pregnant again. Then, we had a routine ultrasound, but there was no heartbeat. The miscarriage came with complications. My body didn’t respond well to the medicine, which left me with a chronic stomach condition.
After my second miscarriage, fear and confusion took reign in my mind and heart. How could I make sense of a sovereign and good God in the midst of this? Why could my friend who didn’t want children have them so easily but I couldn’t? I was bitter and finished. I asked my husband if we could take a break from any attempt at getting pregnant so that my heart, mind, and body could heal.
I read Spiritual Depression by D. Martyn Lloyd Jones. I reread Future Grace by John Piper. I ran to my Bible in search for answers and peace. What the Lord revealed to me was that my fear and despondency wasn’t an anomaly. Jesus was denied and abandoned by his friends. He pleaded in the garden for the Lord to take the cup away and then proceeded down the awful lonely road towards the cross alone. And how could we forget the cry of our Savior as he died on the cross: “‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matt. 27:46).
God provided comfort through the suffering of his Son. I wasn’t alone in my pain. He wasn’t leaving me to my own. He began to reveal to me that he understood and he loved me dearly. I didn’t have anywhere else to go but to him, and he answered my cry in the wilderness. It was comforting for me to realize that it was okay to be in a wilderness. Jesus didn’t go to the cross cheering and clapping his hands. He was sorrowful—sorrowful for this world and for the pain and separation from his Father he knew he’d have to endure. It was okay to weep. Through my tears I had great hope because I knew that I wasn’t praying to a dead Savior. He rose and was indeed interceding on my behalf.
Once my husband and I resumed trying, I was terrified to find out I was pregnant again. Every strange feeling in my abdomen set off a series of imaginary scenarios, each ending with me in the hospital then coming home without a child. We waited a little longer to tell friends, but we soon wanted everyone we knew to pray for us. We knew we couldn’t handle the pain and suffering of another miscarriage alone. Along with learning that the Lord endured great suffering, I realized that many other women had experienced miscarriages but never spoken of them. They began to comfort me with the comfort they had received from the Lord.
Miscarriages are heartbreaking and painful for mothers, especially those who understand that life begins at conception. In the midst of my fear and trembling at the unknown, God gently reminded me of his words in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
God comforts me by reminding me of who he is. He is my God. He is my personal, intimate, fatherly God. He is with me. I am not alone in my fear. And because he is with me, I need not be dismayed. He will strengthen me, he will help me, and he upholds me. I can receive his care and believe because he is God.
I was fearful throughout that third pregnancy until the moment I held my baby boy. We gave birth to our first son in 2006. It was then that I understood slightly the wisdom of God. Would I ever want to go through the loss of two babies again? No. But would I trade this sweet boy that we held in our arms? Never. In God’s mysterious wisdom and grace, he gave us the gift of our son, and we were overjoyed.
My husband and I knew we wanted to have more than one child, so after a year we began to try again. This time we were having difficulty. We eventually got pregnant again, and within six weeks I had miscarried. We were told there was a chromosomal defect. We tried again and miscarried—my fourth miscarriage during six years of marriage. My response during those days was quite different from the first two. I was sobered. I knew I didn’t have control—I couldn’t make a baby be born—and I was surrendered to that fact.
I was also at peace. I had spent the last few years preparing for another trial, and God’s promise stood true:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4: 6-7).
Surrendering to the Lord, crying out for help, and thanking him for what I did have proved to bring me great peace. God also tells us that the mind set on him will be given peace, because that person trusts the Lord (Is. 26:3). The Lord was faithful to fulfill these promises. I was at peace because he had given me peace. I was at peace because Jesus was enough for me.
I also settled in my mind on only having one child. He was a joy and a gift, and it was okay if we didn’t have another. And then we had a girl.
She was a surprise. I don’t remember experiencing any fear while pregnant with her. When she was born in 2009, we believed our family to be complete; unless, of course, the Lord has another surprise for us. And if he does, I pray that I will be able to say with Job, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return, the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
This essay is inspired by Trillia Newbell’s latest book, Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves (Moody, April 2015). A writer on faith, family, and diversity, she is also the author of United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity (Moody, 2014). You can find her work at trillianewbell.com. Follow her on Twitter at @trillianewbell