This post is expanded from an entry in our Dear Mama devotional.
An Unexpected Loss
In April of 2015, I delivered a stillborn baby boy—Ford—three weeks before his due date. Our firstborn daughter was 16 months old, and the loss was completely unexpected and of unknown causes. The Lord was so gracious to us on that day of his delivery. In my fear and sadness, His presence was unquestionable, to me and to others in the room. Psalm 34:18 came to life for me on that Sunday evening as the Lord drew near to me in my brokenheartedness. Now in hindsight, I see His sovereign hand over the whirlwind weeks surrounding that day.
For the remainder of that year, I sought the Lord like never before. When my hopes and dreams and expectations for my family fell flat, there felt like nowhere else to turn but to the One who is over all things. It was a season of surrender. I woke up each day desperate for Jesus because, without Him, the grief was too much to bear. As I brought my questions, doubts, heartache, and even anger before the Lord, my faith was refined and strengthened.
A Change of Heart
Something began to happen, though, as the years passed, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in that hospital room where I delivered Ford became less tangible to the present-day me. The enemy tried to gain a foothold over this loss that Jesus had already redeemed and declared victory over. He planted seeds of doubt. Raised questions. Tried to rile discontent in my heart and mind.
Why would a loving God let your perfect baby boy die? Do you really think He can work this for good? Why does she seem to have such easy and perfect pregnancies? This isn’t fair. It’s all random. There’s no purpose in any of it. Your family will never feel complete. All lies from the one who wants to steal any glory from our Comforter, our Refuge, our Help (Psalm 46:1).
The Trials of Motherhood
Motherhood is filled with trials and circumstances of all kinds (James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6, 4:12) in which we can either run desperately to the Lord or listen to the lies of our adversary. The trials may be something as devastating as the loss of a baby. Or it may the frustration and heartache of infertility. It may be waiting in the adoption process or navigating the foster care system. The trials could be caring for a child with medical or behavioral disabilities. Financial hardship, moving to an unfamiliar place, loneliness, uncertainty in parenting a child, fatigue, anxiety, on and on. It may be circumstances you haven’t even encountered yet, but are up ahead. Or even something you felt like you already overcame, rearing its ugly head again.
In grief especially, there is this tendency to feel powerless. Emotions can overwhelm at the most obscure triggers and it's easy to feel like you have no control of your feelings. But as my journey in grief has progressed, I've come to realize that I must make a daily (sometimes hourly in those early days) choice to take hold of those feelings rather than letting them take hold of me.
So when I feel scared, rather than let fear and doubt run rampant in my mind, I call it out and remind myself of the Lord's faithful and steadfast love (Deuteronomy 31:8). When I feel sad and cheated, I voice gratitude to the Giver of all good gifts, according to His will, for a beautiful son that I got to carry for nine months and hold and love on for seven hours (James 1:16–17). On days when I still feel frustrated, four years later, I ask for renewed strength to trust in the story being written that will glorify the name of Jesus (James 1:1–13).
Joy, Faith and Opportunity
Though the joys of motherhood are many, some days the struggles accompanying the journey can seem overwhelming. Whatever the trial or circumstance may be, it can either drive you to Jesus or become a source of contention in your faith. The enemy will always, always attempt to lay claim to these weaknesses and cause us to stumble (1 Peter 5:8). One way he does this is by convincing us to keep our struggles to ourselves.
But as a friend told me, “What remains in the dark cannot be healed.” When we instead approach our Father in prayer and dig into His Word, letting Him meet us in our mess, in the hidden but most honest places in our hearts, then we can receive His comfort and peace (Philippians 4:7). And when we live out of all we have received from Him, then we point all those around us—our kids, our husbands, other moms, neighbors—to Christ.
Healing in Time
In time, your soul will be changed, shaped by the river of deep loss, and what remains will allow you to embrace the Gospel more fully and chase the hope of eternity more wholeheartedly (Colossians 3:1–4). But the soul-changing hurts and life in this broken world might seem to get worse before they get better. I’ve experienced days when it seemed the only way to go was up, and yet I managed to get knocked off another ledge to a new rock-bottom. Give yourself the grace to feel the hurt and anguish as it comes. And then keep going. There is joy ahead, even if it’s only in seeing the sunrise on a new day.
And consider that: the sun will rise. In all your questions and doubts, have you ever wondered if the sun would rise to a new dawn each day (Hosea 6:3)? The faith you have been searching for to press on—it’s still there, beneath the sadness, and the anger, and the questions. And it’s going to pull you through if you let it.
Lean into intimacy with the Lord, and you will find the hope you feared was gone. Let each morning sunrise be a reminder that our Creator is making all things new, replacing the darkness with light, and bringing beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3). With each new day comes new mercy that can handle the worries, doubts, and questions of that day (Lamentations 3:22–23). Jesus has already proclaimed victory over it all before the day has even come to be (John 16:33).
Pain as a Process
It’s okay to let yourself feel the overwhelming emotions, because the more you fight them, the stronger they will return. Let them in, but then let Him in to carry them for you (Isaiah 46:4; Psalm 68:19). This world is broken and it seems some of us bear the weight of that more than others.
I am sorry that you know the pain of that brokenness as I do.
And I grieve that you too have an aching heart.
But you also have an opportunity to know Jesus more intimately in this life (Psalm 34:18).
You can know firsthand that your faith will withstand the fire and stand the test of the worst that this earthly life will bring (1 Peter 1:6–7).
And someday, whether on this earth or in eternity, you will look back on the season when you felt so alone, and realize that is when your Savior was nearest, safeguarding you, His child, His friend, His beloved (1 Corinthians 13:12; Revelation 21:4).
Amelia is wife to Garrett and mom to three daughters and a son in heaven. She longs to take her loss and use it to bring glory to God. An introvert at heart, Amelia enjoys a day spent at home with her family, a quiet moment to read, or baking a new recipe, with a reheated cup of coffee in hand. She lives in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and is the Director of Operations for Well-Watered Women.