Caring friends often ask me how I’m doing as my family and I walk through the grieving process of losing our unborn son. My most honest response is that, “We are doing okay, it’s just that some moments are harder than others.” All will be well inside, and then suddenly something springs up and reminds me of all we’ve lost and all the ways my heart still aches with that knowledge.
I have a habit of counting aloud my children as they get out of the van as we travel around town doing errands.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five. And then a space….Six.
Elijah is with Jesus. And the kids all smile a knowing smile and reach their hands up to Heaven as if to say hello to their little brother.
Walking along in the grocery and I see a pregnant mama with a sweet, swelling belly.
Talking with friends who are blessed to be carrying life. Honest rejoicing with them, but still….
Seeing ultrasound pictures on social media sites.
Standing in line at the checkout and someone is guaranteed to ask me, wide-eyed with disbelief, “Are they all yours?!”.
I smile generously and feel so filled with blessing as I answer, “Yes, they are all mine, every single treasure of them.”
But I long to add with teary eyes, “I have another one too. A little boy. His name is Elijah and I loved him deeply, but he’s in Heaven now with Jesus and I long for the day that I will see him again.” But that’s too much to tell a stranger…
After my D&C, my husband and I decided to cremate our baby’s remains (which I’m so glad we did!).
But some moments hurt more than others.
This past week, we went to the funeral home to pick up his remains. It was a quick visit and the frigid air seemed fitting for the circumstances. The well-meaning secretary talked continuously about how “precious” the small urn was for our “little guy”.
“I suppose you could mourn what could have been”, she said, seemingly off-handed.
I cringed. As if his life wasn’t enough to mourn as it was.
I wanted to scream at the poor woman, but instead I just held back trembling tears. She kindly held out the blue, satin bag, and I hesitated, but then reached out shaking hands. As if in a flash, the memories of the first time I held each of my newborn babies came unbidden into my mind’s eye. The woman deposited the item into my hand and the cold, dull weight of it seemed to crush my heart. I should have been gasping for breath as I took in the sweetness of newborn skin and silky hair, but instead I held a cold, lifeless urn. Instead of an infant carseat in my car, a satin bag of ashes sat in my cup holder.
Oh, The Ache!
Some moments are harder than others, despite the fact that I’m so glad we decided to cremate, despite the fact that I believe in a truly good and gracious God, despite the fact that I know exactly where my little son is at this moment….with Jesus, in Whom I have eternal hope. Some moments just hurt more than others. And that’s okay.
My husband and I have been discussing whether or not to try again to conceive, and I have been completely against it. A battle has been waging in my heart about what I really believe and Who I truly trust. I say that I trust God and I claim that He is truly good. But, when faced with the decision to try for another baby, I falter.
Trying again could mean losing again.
Trusting for redemption could mean that redemption looks nothing like what I wanted.
Will I still choose trust?
If I lost another baby, would I still claim God’s goodness?
Or, is God only good for what I feel I can manage?
How deep does my faith run?
How much do I believe that God Is Good?
Then I was reminded in a still, small voice of Job in the Bible. Job lost it ALL.
House, wealth, health, reputation, friendships, and….Every. Single. Child. Every One.
Yet, Job claimed that God was Good and worthy of Job’s honor.
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
I can read the rest of Job’s story in the Bible and I know that, in the end, God restored, renewed, and rebuilt every part of Job’s life. God even multiplied what he had before.
But for Job, he didn’t know the end game at all. When Job lost it all, he had to come to a place of decision about what to do next. He had to work through his grief, he had to heal, and then he had to choose to either live again or curl up and die.
Wealth and livestock and children weren’t just handed to Job one morning after he drank his coffee, he had to choose to try again knowing full well that it could all be lost in a moment…Again.
Because Job trusted in the goodness of God, at some point, Job tried again. He went back to work to rebuild his livelihood. He rebuilt his friendships. He chose to lay with his wife in order to conceive again. Job counted the cost and chose to trust the goodness of God despite the agony of loss that he had suffered so deeply.
Job chose life over The Ache.
And God blessed his faith!
The story of Job is certainly not some guarantee that if we try again after experiencing loss God will bless us by restoring and multiplying all we lost, but we can be assured that whatever happens, God will bring us through it to a place of peaceful redemption for our hearts and lives.
Even if it looks different than what we might choose.
For me, I will choose faith because, honestly, I’d rather trust Him,
the One who has faithfully proven Himself again and again
(not just to me, but to countless others since time began),
than not trust Him.
At the end of the day, it comes down to either trusting my fears and protecting myself, or opening myself up to the God who desperately loves me enough to have sacrificed His own son for my eternity.
I can’t even imagine someone more worthy of my trust.
Maybe you aren’t struggling with trying again after losing a baby, but we all struggle with the decision whether to trust or not to trust despite our circumstances and our fears.
Hope is not the absence of pain.
Neither is faith the absence of fear.
Rather, it’s simply choosing to recognize the truth that
God’s gracious goodness and his extravagant love
are greater than either our pain or our fears.
What will you choose?
Your fears or a faithful God?