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Smiles amongst sorrows

April 2016

‘I’m pregnant!’ Two words I could not wait to shout to the world. Everything was moving along swimmingly in my life plan.

I could tick off good results in school and university, a loving husband, a job, even a dog! Now, just like pretty much anything else, I had put my mind to do, had gotten pregnant. Life was on track; everything was going according to my plan; and life was good.

How easily we get on in life without God, when everything is ‘good’. Yet, how quickly we blame God, when everything goes wrong and bad things happen. In April 2014, my ‘life plan’ reared off my ‘road to happiness’ and my whole world seemed to come crashing down around me. I had a miscarriage.

How can just one word bring such a world of pain? A word, which often people don’t want to talk about, because it makes them feel uncomfortable. What do I say to someone who has had a miscarriage? Someone who was a mother one minute and childless the next?

Bitter experience

I am sharing my story in the hope it will help others experiencing similar situations; and also help their friends and families understand the pain their loved ones are going through.

I spoke to a friend recently about how most stories like this are written in the past tense by people who have had a tragedy, but now have children and are happy and content. My friend encouraged me to share my story, as someone who hasn’t had her dreams come true, but still finds happiness in the God who loves her. So I’m sharing this in the hope that it might give others hope.

How could God do this to me? I was a Christian. I’d lived the life that was expected of me. Surely God had made a mistake? As far as I was concerned, I was meant to be a mum; this was my plan and my perfect timing.

I was angry at God and at everybody who seemed to get what they want so easily. For what wrong was God punishing me? Why was life crashing around me, while everybody else was living as if nothing bad had happened? Why did nobody seem to understand?

I was a mother without the hope of holding her baby. Doctors called it, ‘Just one of those things’. Friends and family told me, ‘You’re young; you can try again’. But these answers were no comfort to me. If anything, they made me angrier. I knew that such responses could not bring my baby back.  

How could I carry on, knowing I would never see my baby smile for the first time, learn to walk, go to school — or do any of those things a mother starts to dream of, the minute she finds out she’s pregnant?

Deep heartache

After the ‘appropriate’ grieving time had elapsed, life had to go on. I once again went about my life, not letting anyone see the pain behind my eyes. I had lost a piece of me forever and would never feel completely whole again.

Then, in July 2014, I found out that I had had another miscarriage. That dreaded word came stampeding back, opening old wounds and creating gaping new ones. Seriously — another miscarriage? O God, haven’t I suffered enough? Have you lost the blueprint for my life?

But, yet again, putting on a well-worn mask for the world, I carried on: smiling to the world, yet crying at home. My every thought now seemed to revolve around getting pregnant and having a baby.

I felt useless and ashamed. I couldn’t even do what a woman was ‘supposed’ to do. I felt I was letting myself and my husband down. Having a baby had now become my idol. It was all I thought about, all I wanted.

Then in March 2015, I had a third miscarriage. My heart could not take any more sorrow. How could one person bear such pain? June 2015 came and I was pregnant once more.

Surely, as I hadn’t planned this one, it was God’s way of saying I would finally know the joy of holding my baby in my arms. But once again, God had other plans — and, again, the dreaded word, ‘miscarriage’.

God’s love

How, after all this, can I believe in a God of love, a God who lets such sorrows happen? How can I plan my life if God keeps changing the blueprint?

Well, it has taken me a very long time to realise that I am not in control of my life. As much as I am a ‘tick list’ kind of person, my plans have not gone the way I hoped and dreamed. Yet I am still here, still alive — and I am actually the better for the spiritual lessons I’ve learned.

God is in control of my life. He has a perfect plan for me that I cannot overrule, much as I may want to sometimes.

I am not going to tell you that, over the past two years, my faith hasn’t been almost destroyed, because it has. For a time, I didn’t want anything to do with a God who could do this to me. But God loves me more than I could ever explain or imagine.

It has taken the loss of four babies, for me to realise what it must have cost Him to give up his onlySon to die on a cross, to take the punishment for my sin.

The Lord has taught me so much about myself over the past two years and his love never ceases to amaze and surprise me. I am still going through this painful time and have no idea whether God has put children in my future or not, but he continues to teach me patience and contentment, even in all this.

As much as I will always love and miss my four babies, I can now look back on it all with thankfulness to God. For even when we don’t understand situations, ‘we know that all things work together for good to those who love God’ (Romans 8:28).

God’s lessons

The last two years have caused me to rely on my God more than I ever did. They have made my faith and marriage stronger; given opportunities to talk and share with people in similar situations; and brought friendships I wouldn’t otherwise have had.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not a religious robot who doesn’t experience pain and grief. My heartache has not gone away. But to every question or doubt I have ever had, Jesus Christ has proved to be the answer.

When I feel nobody understands, Jesus tells me he does and that he has a plan for me. Isaiah 53 says, ‘He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief … Surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows’. I believe he is the only person who ever truly understands the pain I bear.

I can echo what Psalm 46:1 says: ‘God is [my] refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble’. When I feel helpless and hopeless, I run to God and he can carry me through any situation. He promises, ‘Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint’ (Isaiah 40:31).

When I don’t have the words to pray and can do nothing but cry, the Lord tells me he knows what my tears mean, and comforts me: ‘The Spirit helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words’ (Romans 8:26).

God’s plans

One of my favourite Bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11: ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.

I can offer no magic spell or pill to cure the sorrows in anybody’s life, but I can point you to the God who has helped me through mine. He does not forget about us. All his plans are there to help us thrive.

He continues to paint beauty with the ashes of my life and has caused me to know smiles amongst sorrows. And I live in the hope that when Jesus comes again, ‘He will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ (Revelation 21:4).

Jesus is the one who ‘heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds’ (Psalm 147:3). And I know this to be true, because he has done this, and continues to do this, for me.

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