Finding Hope After Miscarriage
Young, hopeful, newly married, and excited about everything—including my faith after an amazing four years at a Christian college—I was twenty-two years old the first time my husband and I lost a baby. Hope left in an instant, and I heard the age-old lie hissing in my mind, “God isn't good. God doesn't love you.” For a while, this was all I heard. All my hopes and dreams for a happy life with a loving marriage and beautiful children were gone. All the hope I had in a God who loved me—who fought for my best—was gone as well, replaced by numbing grief and disbelief that God still loved me after he had let that happen.
No one tells you what it's like to miscarry.
No one talks about those deep, private, horrible moments in their lives, so you don't know until it's happening to you. You might know women who have lost a baby, but you think of it just like that—lost a baby—and you don't think about how it happened and what it meant for them. You just check it off: They were pregnant and now they're not. Check. Move on.
At least, that's what you do until you're sitting there in the worst environment you can imagine—a bathroom—and you're cramping and contracting and laboring to give birth to a dead baby. Then something previously checked off as “They're not pregnant anymore” becomes gruesome, bloody, agonizingly painful, sorrowful, and bitterly lonely. It is the end of hope.
I had a hint I might miscarry (mild bleeding), but everyone spoke hope to me. All the doctors told me it might just be normal. The baby might be fine. Try not to worry about it. There was no way to know. So my husband and I hoped and hoped, until the moment my body finally emptied itself of my child, and emptied all my hope along with it.
My body throbbed with emptiness. It was all I could think or feel. Once I was full; now I was empty—my womb empty, my child gone. Day after day, week after week, I wasn't sure how to believe or hope anymore. I wasn't sure I wanted to try.
Empty hope is useless.
When people attempted to encourage me with ideas about God being in control and allowing things for a reason, it made me bitterly angry at a God who would allow something so horrible. Their comfort wasn't comforting. It just reminded me of who was to blame.
When I was hurting like this, the only thing that pulled me out of the hole of hopelessness was the gospel. It was slow, and sometimes it felt so distant from me; but in the darkness, it provided vision I couldn't possibly have myself. The gospel doesn't mess around with platitudes or encouraging thoughts or Christian sayings. The gospel says true things about real things that happened, and it reminded me of what I believed in and why I believed it. The apostle Paul reminds us of our hope because of the real things God did for us:
He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Rom. 8:32)
The gospel says real things that give real hope.
In the days after my husband and I lost our babies, I've clung to and I've cried this verse. It's reminded me, when I feel bitterly like I'm serving a God who takes things from me, that He is actually a God who has given for me—given His Son, given His life. “He...did not spare...but gave.” And when I'm angry and feel like he owes me something, I'm reminded that he gave me everything. He didn't keep anything back. And I didn’t deserve it. He died for me, and he hears me when I'm angry and hurting.
When I'm convinced God does not love me, I look at the cross and see that—even if I don't feel loved today—the declaration of God's love is there. That cross is love. That suffering, that death, is love. Today may not feel like love, and tomorrow may not either, and that's okay. I keep looking back, and I see he does love me.
Christ entered into the messy and the bloody and the laboring:
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Rom. 8:22-23)
Christ came to set us and this world free from all the brokenness that entered the world with sin. He died to make the hurt and the horror right. He heard our groaning. He heard the groaning of creation. He died to bring redemption.
Find hope in the cross while waiting.
But we are still waiting and hurting and laboring. Our babies are still dying. The hope of things set right, of tears wiped away, of wholeness in our bodies, is still not all here:
Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Rom. 8:24-25)
We don't see it all yet; I certainly don't. In the waiting, I'm looking to the cross to see that God loves me. I'm praying that I would believe it. I'm remembering that he heard the groaning, that he entered the laboring, that he came to save us from the hurting, and that he offers us hope for freedom—full freedom. We don't see it all yet, but that's what hope is. It’s faith in something we don't see—or feel—yet. It's faith in something that's coming. New birth. New life. Hope.
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