Learning to trust God again.
by Karen Foster
“Lord, why did You let me get pregnant? You knew my baby would die within me. What can I learn from this miscarriage that I haven’t learned from the others?”
Grief overwhelmed me knowing I would never hold this baby, but the tears wouldn’t come. I remained oddly detached while my body cramped and bled. It took several days before I passed the tiny fetus.
Rather than pray for God’s peace as I had in previous miscarriages, I questioned His justice and raised my fist in anger. “How dare You treat me this way!”
It didn’t matter that I already had two young children; my heart was set on having another child. This was my third miscarriage in two years, and I was furious.
“I trusted You to give me the desires of my heart,” I complained to God a few weeks later. “Well, I’m not going through this again.” I shoved my maternity clothes into a box destined for the local crisis pregnancy center.
Heavyhearted, I also sorted through baby clothes and blinked back tears. “I won’t need these.” I hastily added the tiny garments to the box along with my maternal hopes. Closing the box did not bring closure to my heart.
A tiny stuffed bear on my dresser caught my eye. It had arrived in a floral basket during a previous hope-filled pregnancy that ended at twelve weeks.
Caressing the bear, I remembered how distraught I had been during my second miscarriage, a year earlier. With the first signs of blood, I had raced to my physician. When he couldn’t hear the baby’s heartbeat, he sent me for an ultrasound.
“Is there any heartbeat?” I asked the female technician as she searched my womb for signs of life. Although she had been silent and businesslike, my question must have triggered her emotions. The light from the ultrasound screen allowed me to see her misty eyes.
“It’s OK,” I swallowed. “I’m prepared.”
The woman slowly shook her head, “I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.”
In that moment, I felt as though my own heartbeat had stopped. Tears coursed down my cheeks as I dressed and went to the doctor’s waiting room. My sense of loss was aggravated by the presence of pregnant women whose round bellies promised new life. My belly was a flat, senseless grave. “God, why can’t I have a baby?”
I thought of my two friends who were in their third trimester. “Did I do something wrong? Are You testing me?”
By the time I scheduled surgery to remove the baby and returned home, my emotions were frayed. Denial, guilt, grief, and anger vied for my attention. My husband held me close, but I couldn’t be consoled.
Late that night, I rose from my bed and went into the living room. My Christian faith was the core of my life, and I needed to talk with God.
Words of comfort
My eyes were swollen from crying, but as I read my Bible, 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 soothed me: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
Then I mentally wrote all my questions and concerns about having another baby and prayerfully gave them to God. “Father God, the Bible tells us to cast all our anxiety on You because you care for us [1 Peter 5:7]. I trust You to get me through this miscarriage and eventually give me a baby or Your peace.”
Emotionally drained, I slept, knowing God understood my pain.
But my peace was short-lived. Within a few months, I stopped trusting God. I’d see an infant or a pregnant woman, and my longing would resurface like a fresh wound. When my two friends gave birth to healthy babies, my unresolved envy turned into bitterness. One day I would wallow in self-pity that God found me unworthy. The next day, I was determined to have my own way.
By the time I got pregnant, I was skeptical. I told no one, other than my husband. So when that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at eight weeks, it felt like a cruel joke.
The bear in my hand symbolized those three futile attempts. I thrust the bear in a bottom drawer and stumbled into a spiritual vortex. I needed God’s strength, but this time, I would have no part of Him.
As word got out about the third miscarriage, a woman who also endured multiple miscarriages said, “I understand your anger, but you’re not grounded in biblical truth. God is not vindictive. He doesn’t maliciously allow you to get pregnant in order to take your child.”
She told me to read the Psalms, which are filled with honest human emotions. “Tell God how you feel. He can take it.”
Distance from God
Her words cooled my temper, but apathy took center stage. After years of church involvement and Bible study, I teetered on the verge of mutiny. I didn’t want to go to church and when I did, I volunteered in the nursery rather than be convicted by a sermon or take communion.
During the rare times I tried reading my Bible, I felt God had removed Himself. Some days I missed God’s presence, but it was easier to dismiss Him than wrestle with “why?”
Over the next three months, I became more self-absorbed. I didn’t care about anything except indulging in my own ideas of fun. I kept my children occupied with activities so they wouldn’t notice my mental absence. People offered to pray with me, but I declined.
And then God said, “Enough!”
At least that’s how I picture God reacting before I hit bottom. In His infinite mercy, God reached out His hand to rescue me from the darkness.
One night, I fell asleep in my living room while listening to music. I awoke to a room pitch-dark, except for a tiny red light on our video recorder. As I focused on that light, desperation stirred within me.
“Lord,” I prayed. “My mind is dark. I feel as though I’ve wrapped myself in a heavy blanket. I don’t deserve Your mercy, but You’re the only light that can overcome this darkness.”
Prayer and promises
Among other sins, I confessed my rebellious attitude toward God. I begged for His healing touch so I could live life fully. It was the first heartfelt prayer I had spoken since the night of my second miscarriage.
Unfortunately no bright light appeared to suggest that God had heard me. But I knew that faith supersedes feelings. I also claimed two of His promises: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9) and “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Steps to healing
In the following days, I made myself pray and read the Bible even when I didn’t feel like it. Slowly I realized I had claimed to trust God’s timing and sovereign will, but I really expected Him to reward my patience with exactly what I wanted.
I also began to weed out my misperceptions of God colored by my emotions, and replaced them with an accurate understanding of God’s immovable character.
My final step to healing came with Neil Anderson’s book Victory Over the Darkness. For one thing, I learned the difference between a godly desire and a goal. According to Anderson, an unmet desire leads to disappointment, but a failed goal leads to anger, bitterness, and rebellion. Truly, my desire to have a baby had become an all-consuming goal. That realization allowed me to understand why I had reacted so strongly and then move on.
Through my pain, I learned that God is faithful even when I’m not. He used my three miscarriages to ground my faith in biblical truth. Inner peace came when I acknowledged His sovereignty and gladly surrendered my will to Him.
A ceramic hand of God holding a child now rests on my dresser. It bears an inscription from Isaiah 49:16: “See! I will not forget you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand.” It symbolizes my unborn babies — three precious souls I’ll see in eternity one day. God’s grace carved my name on His palm, too.
Scripture quotations were taken from the New International Version.