The man named Job in Scripture made this confident and faithful declaration (in the form of a rhetorical question) in the midst of an enormous amount of tragedy in his life: “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). And although he suffered so much loss, he “did not sin with his lips.” What a high bar he set, right?
Rebecca and I were reminded of this message from Job last month when we found out that we miscarried both of our babies. Yes… I said both of our babies.
At our first checkup and ultrasound, we were surprised to find out that we were expecting twins. Sadly, a few seconds after we found out that there were two babies, we heard the news that one of them had passed away around 12 weeks. It was sad to see the tiny baby, peacefully curled up on the monitor. Honestly, as common as miscarriage is, it was the first time I have ever faced it. It was a lot easier to deal with, though, when I saw the other little guy dancing around in his tiny home. I’ve heard 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, and this was true for us.
We left that doctor visit with hope as well as concern. The impossible question of “why” was inevitable, although the doctor was very clear that asking it would not be helpful. The double amount of hormones explained a lot though: especially why Rebecca had been SO sick. In the midst of all that was going well in our world – this was tough. Specifically, it put trying to unpack and move into our new house at a standstill.
Despite the good news of “Baby B” seeming to be healthy, Rebecca could not shake the sense that something wasn’t quite right. And sadly, those concerns were confirmed at our second doctor visit: the second child’s heart had recently stopped beating also. The mixture of feelings, questions, and what-ifs was a little overwhelming.
But that is when we were reminded of those words from Job: “shall we receive good… and not evil?” Or as he also declared: “Naked I came 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).
God had chosen to bless us with three healthy, vibrant children already. Even if he never gives us anymore, his faithfulness and goodness has not changed. As hard as it is to remember in the moment, His name is still “blessed.”
The next several days were rough on Rebecca as we checked into the hospital at nearly 17 weeks pregnant and endured the process of labor and delivery – something that we were familiar with (but not like this). Rebecca pushed through it all with great physical and emotional strength. As much as I tried to be right by her side, what really held us up were family members and friends praying for us, talking with us, and caring for us in all kinds of ways. We felt so loved, particularly by folks at our new church that barely knew us but loved on us anyway.
Since we’ve been home from the hospital, the kids have dealt with the loss of the twins in their own way (just like Rebecca and I), and now we’re trying to move forward. Obviously, we are all disappointed, but I think that Abram is okay with continuing to be “the baby” of the family for a little longer anyway.
If you know me, you know I’m an optimist (maybe to a fault). Well one of the “silver linings” of this whole experience has been the empathetic comments we have heard and even conversations that we have had with others that have gone through miscarriages, still-births, or even the deaths of their young children. It seems that these kinds of difficulties in life end up as silent struggles for most moms and dads. But when we talk about them in the open, we discover a little more peace and strength. It is one of the many ways that God wants us to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Or maybe I should say – it is one of the ways we can “be the Church.”
I’ll end with this thought that came from something that my Father-in-Law sent me. It is an excerpt from a message called “Death of a Little Child” by the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee talking about dealing with the death of his own young child:
“Although the span of life of your little one was brief, your child completed a mission, served a purpose, and performed a God-appointed task in this world. The child’s presence turned your thoughts to the best. Your little one’s helplessness brought out your strength and protection, and your child’s loveliness roused your tenderness and love. The little one’s influence will linger in your heart as long as you live. If anything can bring a man to God, it is a child.”
When difficulties and even tragedies take place in our life (and they most certainly will), we have a choice: do we run TO God or AWAY from God? May we look beyond the struggle to see the arms of our Savior stretched out for us.