In the Old Testament when God wanted to guarantee a promise, he made an oath. He gave his own word based on his own character because it’s the most unbreakable, unchangeable thing there is. There’s nothing more sure than Himself. Because He cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. When we run to God for our very lives we get to grab the promised hope of what He is offering and what we need with both hands.
He is a perfect, reliable lifeline in all situations, reaching past all circumstances right to the very presence of God because of Jesus.
In a move of jaw-dropping love and pure genius, God’s actual word became flesh. Jesus went ahead of us so that we can cling to God in the first place. Because of the certainty of the access to the one and only Holy God, I can agree with the verses in James 1 and truly consider it a pure and worthy gift when tests and challenges come at me from all sides. When we face the heat of our fallen circumstances, when we are under immense pressure from whatever source, our hearts are forced open to show their true colors. Because of this, I plead with God to help me stand firm in trials because He promises that if I don’t try to get out of it prematurely, the trial will do what He promises it will do for me. I’ll be made perfect. I’ll be whole. I won’t lack anything good or anything I need, regardless of how I feel right now. I’ll be made mature and well equipped. Yes, it’s for my benefit, because that’s how He works. And in my head I hear many of you say, “but isn’t it for God’s glory?!”
Yes. And in his outrageously loving way, He created our lives so that His glory is intricately woven with our good. And my heart is made whole, no matter how much it aches today.
Having one miscarriage was hard. I naively handled it like a sad and disappointing speed bump. Having a second miscarriage only months later, quite frankly, feels like I’ve been raped by the Fall. And the thing is, I know lots of truth. I counsel people all the time through absurdly hard tragedies, heartbreaks and sin struggles. And I’m so thankful that God has given me truth and put me in a place where I can fiercely say, “I believe!” But believing in God’s perfect character and love for me doesn’t take the heartache away.
The difference is, believing in God's perfect character and love makes the heartache worth something.
The gratitude I have for my almost two-year-old is now without warrant. But in some ways, it makes enduring this so much harder. When I look at her, I’m given the picture of what those two other little babies would have looked like. The mannerisms they may have had. The curvature of her neck and the way she giggles when her daddy plays with her. I wonder if they would have had those same ringlets and button nose.
Daniel Bedingfield wrote a song called “Honest Questions” that always comes to mind in difficult seasons. He wrote, “Can you see honest questions in my heart this hour opening like a flower to the rain? And do you know the silent sorrow of a never-ending journey through the pain? Do you see a brighter day for me? Oh look down, see the tears I've cried, lives I've lived, the deaths I've died. You died them too. And all for me. And You say, ‘I will pour my water down upon a thirsty, barren land and streams will flow from the dust of your bruised and broken soul. You will grow like the grass upon the fertile plains of Asia by the sea. You will grow, You will grow. Do you know the story from the start? And do you know me like you've always told me? Do you see the whispers in my heart against your kindness, my eternal blindness?”
Do you see the whispers in my heart against your kindness (my eternal blindness)? It takes my breath away.
If I was never thirsty and barren, there’d be no kindness needed, but more . . . no Redeemer needed. Right now, though, it feels like this heartache isn’t going to ever leave me and I’m branded for life. When I think of countless friends who have gone through many more miscarriages or abuse or betrayal or death of loved ones, I’m so tempted to numb myself when I walk by the aisle of pregnancy tests and feminine products in the drugstore (no one warned me that would be hard!)
But there’s also another side to it . . .
It propels me to worship with my friends who do have healthy babies and are raising their children to be salt and light in a world ridden by the Fall that took mine away from me. It drives me to hate sin that was inducted into the world once God had created something good. It forces me to weep with those who weep over infertility, adultery, loneliness or death.
But God; He brought a certainty to hope that’s unwavering.
I realize a lot more can be said and there are many stones unturned when you bring up a subject like miscarriages. You can compare yourself to those you feel are better off and you’ll be embittered. You can compare yourself to those with what seems like worse stories and you’ be indicted with fear or shame. But for today, I just want to say that I’m incredibly grateful I get to hold firmly to Hope because I’m being made “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” through the immense power of trial.
Isaiah 61:1b-3, "He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."
May this pile of ashes one day be among the oaks of righteousness.
Rebekah Hannah is a biblical counselor at The Grace Center for Biblical Counseling in Jacksonville, Florida. She is married to Andrew and has three daughters.