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Living in the Light

 

 

Filtering by Category: Suffering

The Good Shepherd and the Mom Who Miscarries

Jessalyn Hutto

I awoke from the anesthesia into a different world. The last remnants of my pregnancy—and my baby— had been removed from my body by a surgeon’s skillful hand. The bright future I had envisioned for our family had been replaced by a painful reality. Life had been exchanged for death, and the womb where my baby once grew was now empty. I had known beforehand that my baby was gone, for I had delivered most of the pregnancy in our apartment. Still, this final step put a painful last seal on a horrific chapter of my life. I rode home with my husband and mother oblivious to anything but my deep feelings of loss.

Loss Invisible

Few people understand the pain a woman feels when she learns that her unborn baby has died. The depth of her suffering is understandably intense, but because of the hidden nature of her loss, few people can relate to her grief. In reality, her suffering may go completely unnoticed. After all, most miscarriages occur before a pregnancy is obvious, an invisibility that only multiplies the grieving mother’s pain.

If she shares the tragedy of the miscarriage with family and friends, they often don’t know how to respond helpfully. How do they mourn a life they never experienced and may not even have known about? Even a caring and sensitive husband can find it difficult to understand the intense grief his wife may experience. The mother, on the other hand, has felt the physical effects of her pregnancy and perhaps watched the child’s tiny movements on an ultrasound. It’s possible that she even felt the first miraculous flutters of her baby kicking! Her child may have dominated her thoughts and prayers, making the loss tangible and severely painful. When others forget—often quite quickly—about the life she once carried, her grief only grows heavier.

God Knows and Understands

Women who miscarry often feel isolated in their grief because of the intensely personal loss they’ve experienced. They must seek to remember, or perhaps discover for the rst time, that their Savior is ready and willing to comfort them in their sorrow. Indeed, even the feelings of isolation can be a great blessing, for isolation from all worldly comforts forces us to draw comfort from the Lord himself.

In his anguish, the psalmist David said that God counted his tossings and kept his tears (Psalm 56:8). That is, he believed that God intimately understood his personal grief. We can have the same confidence that God sees our suffering and knows how deeply we mourn. Nothing goes unnoticed: he knows our own hearts and minds even better than we do (1 Chronicles 28:9). He sees our pain, he hears our cries, and he is perfectly suited to help us in our time of need.

No Stranger to Suffering

At the heart of the Bible is the gospel, and at the heart of the gospel is the unswerving, undeserved, and incomprehensible love of God for his people. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, humanity’s history has been characterized by pain and suffering. Blood flows through the storyline of our Bibles as predominately as the ink they are printed with. Just as God decreed, sinful mankind lives under a curse of pain, toil, and death from one generation to the next. Indeed, the apostle Paul tells us that death reigned through Adam and his offspring until Christ came (Romans 5:17). Since that fateful day in the garden when Adam and Eve chose to rebel, the human race has been subjected to the rule of sin and misery.

But our loving God sent his eternal Son to deliver us from the shackles of pain and death. Jesus came to rescue his beloved people from the eternal judgment they deserved for their sin. He did this not by triumphantly bursting into our world with the power and majesty his eternal holiness would suggest, but by humbly taking on the frailty of human flesh and willingly entering into humanity’s suffering. In a startling display of love, the holy God of the universe chose to be conceived within the weak and vulnerable womb of a virgin and develop there for nine months before being born into our sin- soaked world. He then lived an ordinary (though sinless!) and pain-filled life amongst his finite creatures. He felt the frailty of the human body, saw the pain of death all around him, and experienced the ongoing temptation toward sin all the days of his earthly life (Hebrews 4:15).

Jesus entered our world and partook of the inheritance we had secured through sin, so that one day we could partake of the glorious inheritance he would secure for us through his sacrificial death on the cross (1 Peter 1:3–4). He did this to defeat humanity’s ancient enemies, sin and death. God promised this very solution to Adam and Eve after they rebelled: though Eve would suffer the curse of painful and difficult childbearing (something starkly illustrated in miscarriage), it would be through childbearing that the rescuer would come. It would be through Adam and Eve’s offspring that Satan, and his reign of death, would finally be defeated (Genesis 3:15).

But before this happened, the “offspring” would suffer personal sacrifice; God decreed that the serpent (Satan) would bruise the offspring’s heel (Genesis 3:15). In other words, the way of Jesus’ victory would be paved by misery as he entered into man’s cursed condition, making him a worthy substitute for his fallen people (Isaiah 53:4).

Man of Sorrows! what a name For the Son of God, who came Ruined sinners to reclaim. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
— Philip P. Bliss

And so, on that spectacular night more than 2,000 years ago, the God of the universe took on human flesh. He was born into our world through blood and water as a tiny, helpless baby. He was a heavenly king, but his people didn’t recognize him as such. Indeed, he had come to rescue them from the very sin that prevented them from doing so. 

The incarnation offers beautiful hope for the woman who has miscarried. The death of a baby within the womb is a painful reminder—if not one of the most fundamental expressions—of death’s curse over humanity. The good news is that Jesus came to reverse exactly that curse. Mankind was created to multiply and to fill the earth, subduing and caring for it as God’s regents, but humanity struggles to fulfill this basic function. Husbands and wives groan under this devastating reality as they watch their precious offspring die even before they are born. Many of our children return to the dust before we do, forcing us to observe helplessly the tragic wages of sin. 

The Savior was born into this broken reality. Our God chose to enter our world through flesh and blood, entering our suffering in order to free us from it. The eternal Son of God became a Son of Man, first by becoming a zygote, and then an embryo, and then a fetus. Finally, he was victoriously born into our world as a fully developed baby. This was necessary so that he could wage war against the very foe that has taken so many precious, pre-born babies:

Since therefore the children share in esh and blood, [Jesus] himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
— Hebrews 2:14–15
O loving wisdom of our God,
When all was sin and shame
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.

O wisest love, that flesh and blood
That did in Adam fail
Should strive afresh against the foe
Should strive and should prevail.
— John Henry Newman and Maurice Francis Egan

 

Tears of Blood

Entering into humanity’s suffering allowed our holy God to experience the effects of sin as we do. He doesn’t only see our pain from a distance, and he doesn’t only collect our tears in his bottle as a faithful observer. Rather, he himself has shed tears of pain and sorrow—tears of unhindered grief (John 11:35, Hebrews 5:7, Matthew 27:46). His precious tears are now counted among the waves of grief experienced by the human race through- out time. We are told in Hebrews 2:17–18 that Jesus endured suffering and temptation so that he could be a merciful and faithful high priest able to help us in our times of weakness. Doesn’t every woman who has miscarried long for someone to perfectly understand her pain? According to Paul, Jesus can and does comfort all those who share in his suffering (2 Corinthians 1:5).

In the 33 years that Jesus walked this dusty earth, he was subjected to all of the same temptations and trials that we are. His sufferings allow him to identify with his suffering people in many ways, but I want to focus on three specific ways in which Jesus can relate to—and therefore perfectly comfort—the woman who has miscarried. It is my prayer that the pain women have experienced in miscarriage will allow them to see Jesus’ voluntary, sacrifcial suffering with new intensity and gratitude. As we look at these three ways in which Jesus has suffered, may it remind us of his willingness and ability to comfort us during our times of grief. May it increase our love and affection for our marvelous God! For he truly is the “good shepherd [who] lays down his life for his sheep” (John 10:11).

1. Loneliness and Isolation

The trial of miscarriage is unique. Those who have not experienced the pregnancy may find it hard to understand, so the bereaved mother often carries the unseen loss quietly within her heart, leaving her feeling alone. But there is one perfectly suited to sympathize with her pain and feelings of loneliness. When tempted to feel isolated and misunderstood, she must run to Jesus. Though deserving of honor and praise and adoration, Jesus was “despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3). He never felt at home in this world, saying “foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). The Savior’s life was often characterized by loneliness, injustice, and misunderstanding.

As the perfect substitute for his people, it was essential that Jesus live victoriously in ways that fallen humanity could not. But in many respects, this led to isolation. Consider how Jesus, amid great spiritual torment the night before his murder, asked his closest friends simply to stay awake and pray with him. Of course they could not. He would soon face the greatest trial a man has ever suffered, but not even his friends could understand his agony. How could they? They were the very ones he had come to rescue. And as Jesus walked the road to Calvary, as the nails pierced his esh, as the rough wood of the cross rubbed against his broken skin, his eternal Father turned his face away from him in judgment.

Jesus suffered and died utterly alone, without a single friend to help bear his burden. Indeed many of his friends hid to escape a similar execution. This is the Jesus we can confidently approach with our feelings of loneliness. This is the God who said to his disciples after victoriously rising from the grave and before ascending into heaven: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

2. Fear and Anxiety

A miscarriage is often more of a process than a single event, which means that its pain and fears can last for a long time. You experience cramping or notice a little spotting. Your doctor can’t find a heartbeat at your regular checkup. Without warning, you begin a grueling process of waiting—waiting to see if you will lose your baby and waiting to see if your life is about to be turned upside down with grief. Similarly, after a miscarriage, fear of loss threatens to eclipse the joy of each new pregnancy you are blessed with. Every day is a battle to trust God with the future of your unborn child, no matter what God’s will may be. But take heart in knowing that our Savior acutely understands these battles to trust him—in the waiting and in the process of loss.

Let’s take a closer look at our Savior’s dark night in the garden of Gethsemane. There, while his friends slumbered, the Savior agonized alone. As he spent the night in prayer, preparing for the suffering ahead of him, we see a holy war taking place. In those frightful moments, Jesus was faced with the temptation to reject his Father’s will and refuse to bear the sins of men. Indeed, the weight of mankind’s destiny upon his shoulders was so great that he begged for another way, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me” (Luke 22:42). So intense were the emotions coursing through his veins that great drops of bloody sweat rolled down from his brow. Yet, in humble obedience, he finished his prayer with these victorious words: “Nev- ertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). The road before him was far worse than any imaginable nightmare, but Jesus set his mind on his Father and therefore conquered the temptation to let fear overcome him.

The woman who has miscarried desperately needs to fellowship with her Savior in the garden. What woman would not similarly ask the Lord to remove the bitter cup of miscarriage from her? As she begins to feel the cramps signaling the loss of her baby, remembering her suffering Savior can be a precious balm to her soul, for he too was tempted to fear the road set before him. I found this account of Jesus particularly comforting as I experienced new pregnancies after my miscarriages. It was dificult to trust the Lord with the future of each new baby. Knowing that even Jesus had struggled to accept his Father’s will gave me a great peace; he had come through the same temptation victoriously, so he could understand me and comfort me. Jesus faced a horrific reality and still trusted his Father, so he knows the emotions experienced by a woman who miscarries.

3. Intimate Loss

One of the greatest tragedies of miscarriage is the intimate nature of losing a child still within you. The unborn baby, though distinct in its humanity, is still very much a part of the mother; her body physically sustains that life, feeding and protecting the developing baby. Emotionally, she loves and cares for her unborn baby with the intensity only a parent can understand. Then suddenly, through the tragedy of miscarriage, her baby is torn from her body; the child she has loved so dearly is no longer living, the unique soul who resided within her no longer there. The separation seems beyond dreadful.

Once again, however, our Savior is well equipped to minister to us in our time of need. Dan G. McCartney says that Jesus can empathize with us in our grief over broken relationships: “God knows what it is like to suffer, not just because he sees it in far greater clarity than we, but because he has personally suffered in the most severe way possible...the disruption of his own family (the Trinity) by the immensity of his own wrath against sin.”

The Father, Son, and Spirit have lived as one for all eternity past. Though each is unique in personhood, they enjoy perfect, unhindered unity and fellowship as one being. We call this mystery the Trinity, and it is the distinct nature of the God whom Christians worship. Jesus had experienced this beautiful, mysterious relationship of oneness for all of eternity with the Father and Spirit. In John 1:18, Jesus is described as being eternally in the “bosom” of the Father and in John 17:24, Jesus says that the Father, “loved [him] before the foundation of the world.”

No human relationship has ever known this intensity of love or this level of utter satisfaction in the fellowship of another—not even a mother in relation- ship to her child. Yet, what we see at the cross is the Father voluntarily giving up his beloved Son to death and judgment as well as the Son voluntarily giving up his life as a willing sacri ce to redeem his people. We see a disruption in their exquisite relationship with one another—a void where there had once been infinite blessedness.

In that holy moment when God turned his back on his beloved Son and judged him for the sins of men, John Calvin suggests that Jesus was understandably “seized with horror, which would have been sufficient to swallow up a hundred times all the men in the world.”  Thus, the eternal Son of God cried out in misery, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Surely no pain of separation and loss will ever compare to the horror of that moment. This was the judgment he voluntarily took upon himself in order to save the souls of men. And as he cried, “It is finished,” he yielded up his spirit to his Father and died as our perfect substitute. This is the God who offers his fellowship to you. Run to him, and find comfort where it is abounding!

photo-1447798084910-4d1dfb81b657.jpeg

To Know and Be Like Him

Suffering is not unique to Christians, but the way in which we experience it differs greatly from the way the rest of the world does. The Bible says that we have been united to Christ in his death and resurrection (Romans 6:5, 2 Corinthians 4:10, Galatians 2:20) and that we, as his church, are members of his body (1 Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 5:23). This unity between Jesus and his ransomed people greatly affects the way we suffer because it means that we do not suffer alone. We face loss, pain, and death as those loved and comforted by our holy Savior. Jesus tasted death (Hebrews 2:9) and experienced grief partly for the purpose of personally sympathizing with us. He “nourishes and cherishes” us (Ephesians 5:29) and prays for us even now (Romans 8:34). Indeed, because Christ voluntarily experienced the wrath of God on our behalf, we can experience his perfect and all-sufficient love for all of eternity.

What’s more, as we suffer and experience the unique fellowship of the Son of God in our grief, our lives are being molded to more greatly resemble his, and our affections are being stirred toward greater love for him. In this way, our suffering with Christ makes us more like Christ as we behold him with greater clarity. This is the fountain from which all sanctification flows, and suffering is perfectly suited to drive us to the Good Shepherd who so lovingly suffered on behalf of his lost sheep.


A Prayer for the Suffering Mother

Loving Savior, as this beloved sister walks through the immense suffering of losing her baby, would you help her to see how deeply you love her? Would you remind her that you too have suffered the devastating effects of the fall, but that you did so in order to free her from the curse of death? Use this time of intense grief to draw her into greater fellowship with you, that she may be conformed to your image, for her great good and your great glory.

I pray all these things because of your substitutionary sacrifice, 

Amen.


This is an altered quote from my book Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb. You can find a copy here.

Light in the Darkness

Jessalyn Hutto

It isn't long before a Christian realizes that a life of faith requires that he mentally and spiritually assent to truths that don't always feel or seem true to him in this dark and broken world.

The woman who has just lost her unborn baby to miscarriage is called to believe that her sovereign God is still good.

The man who's received a devastating medical prognosis is asked to believe that his God still loves him.

The family who's experienced bankruptcy is told to trust that their God still has a good and perfect plan for them.

The church whose pastor has resigned due to a moral failure is called to believe the same gospel message he preached from the pulpit every Sunday..

Such realities -though Biblical and true- can feel very foolish when all the physical evidence seems to point in the opposite direction. Indeed, when you are in the midst of life's most difficult trials, the pain you experience can be so thick that you hardly remember the good and holy words of our God, written down for low moments such as these. And when the tears are plentiful and constant, it is hard to see the Savior's loving face through them.

In these dark moments it doesn't feel rational to assent to his goodness, wisdom, and love.

And yet, this type of faith-fueled foolishness is exactly what our Savior asks of us.

For it is in this foolishness that the wisdom of God is revealed to our hearts.

In truth, we do not praise God in the midst of difficulties because it makes sense to, but rather we praise God in the midst of our difficulties in order to make sense of the trials themselves.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
— 1 Corinthians 1:18

I have experienced this reality first hand - this absurd and powerful peace that can steady a Christian in the midst of the unthinkable. I was reminded of one such moment when a song came over my radio a couple days ago. It was Shane and Shane’s version of Our God is Greater. As the words, "And if our God is for us, then what could stand against?,” rang out, I was transported back to a Sunday following one of my miscarriages. I remember singing this song with tears pouring down my cheeks. I was unable to keep them in, hardly able to sing a full line of the song without gasping for breath. And yet, our kind worship pastor kept pounding the line into my broken heart, telling me a story about a God who was for me.

This particular song is quite an encouragement when things are looking up for you - when you are standing on the precipice of the great unknown. But when suffering becomes known to you and you're deep in the trenches of spiritual warfare, being attacked from all sides, experiencing the devastating fruits of the fall, this song can feel like a cruel lie.

When death robs you of your child, and you experience its cold grip within your very womb, it doesn't really feel like God is fighting for you as the song says... it doesn’t feel like he is in any way for you.

Yet the Bible assures us that in the midst of our pain, God is at work for our good:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
— Romans 8:31-32

I love this verse, don't you? It is like a spiritual punch to the gut for my doubting soul. It's as if God is saying: "You think I don't love you, daughter? What more can I do to prove it to you than crucify my eternal Son? I've given  you everything! Believe."

But this beautiful gospel story can stray so far from our minds when we are hurting. Jesus said that if we eat of his body and drink of his blood we will never hunger, nor thirst, yet here we are feeling famished and parched in the midst of despair.

Could it be because we have not seen the gospel for the sustenance it truly is?

Could it be that we have forgotten that it is in Christ that there is fullness of life.

Not in a baby. Not in good health. Not in a steady job. Not in a faithful pastor.

In Christ.

His gospel is light in our darkness because it illuminates eternal realities. It reveals to us the reason for our suffering and the hope for its end. It gives us a cosmic understanding of our pain, and draws us into the healing embrace of the One who holds the galaxies in his hands.

The Word of God may be foolishness to this perishing world, but to those who are being transformed by the Holy Spirit, it is the unveiling of true reality. Within its pages are found the answers to our souls' most vexing anxieties. 

Why pain? Why suffering? Why sorrow? Why regret? Why death? What is the point of life when it is so hard? Will their ever be an end to this darkness? Can happiness be possible? Is there reason to hope? Can I be happy in this world? Why do I long for something that isn't possible? Where are we all headed?

The answers are in a Book given to us by the very breath of God, so that we could know the Story. Our story. His Story. The Story that makes sense of everything.

The gospel story.

And so, when we are crushed by our circumstances and tempted to doubt God, we must redirect our gaze to the unwavering  proof of his love for us - to the only One in whom we find joy and peace. We must run to the gospel.

We must tell ourselves The Story. The one that's been faithfully passed down from generation to generation because it is like a candle in a dark room - banishing our fears and uncertainty.

It is the story of a baby born in a stable - a holy mixture of frail humanity and omnipotent divinity. The story of a sinless man whose dry, callused feet, crusted in mud, faithfully roamed a middle eastern land bringing good news wherever they went. It's the tale of an unattractive, unimpressive man -whom we never would have thought twice about - except that he claimed to be the God of the Universe. Yet this man asked not to be served by his followers, but rather to serve. We must remember how in the moment of his ultimate act of service the sun refused to shine and the earth broke apart in anguish. As the sinless Son of God hung on a cross suffocating to death, experiencing the wrath of God against our sin his creation couldn't help but convulse. 

We look to that cross and we remember love, even in our darkest, earth shattering days, we remember Love.

For Christians must be storytellers. 

We must spend our days retelling the same exact story over and over again of a God made man, sent to suffer and die for the forgiveness of our sins.

Yes, we tell this story to the world, hoping and praying that God will open the eyes of more blind people in the same way he has opened ours. But we also continue to tell this story to our own hearts, knowing that just as Jesus' frail disciples were swift to sleep while he suffered in the garden alone, so too are we quick grow unaffected by his suffering.

The only antidote to our doubt in these times is to tell ourselves The Story. 

For as Kate DiCamillo so eloquently spoke into one of her characters: 

Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark.
— The Tale of Despereaux

Miscarriage: What Pastors Need to Know

Jessalyn Hutto

This article was published at Credo Magazine on October 14, 2015. You can find the entire article here.

"Until recently, the topic of miscarriage was a bit taboo. Those who experienced such painful losses tended to keep them quiet, entrusting their grief only to their closest family members and friends—if anyone at all. For this reason, miscarriage has historically been treated with kid gloves. It’s something that we know happens, but for most of us, exactly how often it occurs remains a mystery. Most importantly, the depth of grief that bereaved mothers and fathers experience when a miscarriage takes place has been terribly misunderstood.

Thankfully, this confusion has been partially alleviated in recent years as powerful articles have been published on prominent Christian websites like Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition. As women and men have bravely broken their silence, the church has become more aware of the overwhelming devastation experienced by parents whose children die in the womb, and with this awareness has come a greater understanding of the church’s responsibility to care for these grieving parents.

However, many pastors are still unsure how they can practically help women who miscarry their babies. They don’t know what kind of care the fathers of such children need — if any at all. Those who’ve never been personally acquainted with this type of loss often fear saying or doing the wrong thing, and thus find themselves crippled in their ability to minister to their wounded sheep. This needn’t be the case. Pastors can be a pivotal means of grace in the lives of the mourning mothers and fathers in their congregations if armed with some practical, first-hand knowledge about miscarriage.

With this goal in mind, here are five simple things that you need to know about miscarriage in order to minister effectively to those who suffer from them:

1. Know that Miscarriage is Terribly Common

Miscarriages are typically very private experiences. As such, pastors can be deceived into thinking that they a rare occurrence within their congregations. Medical statistics, however, tell us otherwise. In reality, it is estimated that up to 25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage.

This means that it is possible that one in every four pregnancies occurring in your church will end in the pain of death rather than new life.

Does this seem like a startlingly exaggerated statistic? Ask any woman in her child-bearing years if she knows of another woman who has recently miscarried and chances are she will be able to give you multiple names. This is especially true in churches that foster an atmosphere that values children and encourages large families. The sheer amount of pregnancies occurring within these congregations allows for these statistics to be more clearly realized."

Continue reading here.

The Baby Given to Women Who Miscarry

Jessalyn Hutto

This article was published on October 15, 2015 at The Gospel Coalition. You can find the entire article here.

"Her eyes welling over with tears, my friend looked me full in the face and asked an honest question: What does the gospel have to do with my miscarriage?

The question sounded simple, but I knew the answer could be life-changing. I also knew there was nothing simple about her grief—the pain and bewildering loss that flows from having a baby stripped from your womb too soon. And I knew my empathy wouldn’t be nearly enough to mend her broken heart. She needed genuine hope for her future, and a biblical explanation for her pain.

Twice now, I’ve been her. I’ve been the one sitting in a doctor’s office staring at grainy black-and-white images of my dead baby, tears pouring down my cheeks. Twice now, as the cold news of an absent heartbeat met my ears, I’ve been plunged into the deep, wrenching grief reserved for mothers who’ve lost an unborn child. The sting of death is in no way lessened by the invisible nature of such loss. It is real, and it is horrible.

Yet the truth of the gospel has provided immeasurable comfort to me in the midst of such pain. So when my friend posed that question—that crucial questionmy heart leapt at the opportunity to point her wounded soul to the comforting, joy-inducing reality of Jesus Christ. Because his gospel truly is everything to a woman who has miscarried."

Continue reading here.

Remembering the Little Ones Who Go Before

Jessalyn Hutto

I received an unexpected card in the mail yesterday from a friend. This friend. I'm amazed by her. In the midst of caring for her three precious babes, she has been faithful to remember my miscarried babies and sought to encourage my mourning heart every year since she's known me.

She is the kind of friend every woman hopes to have. 

She is the kind of friend I aspire to be.

She is God's grace in my life.

Her card arrived the day before Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day - a special day set aside for the purpose of drawing attention to the many babies who've been tragically lost in miscarriages and stillbirths. 

On this special day, I remember two children: a tiny image-bearer who was only six weeks old in my womb when he or she died, and a daughter who was 15 weeks old when her spirit left this earth. Both of their lives were precious to me and their deaths were times of great darkness in my world.

But through that darkness - the sorrow that flows from such devastating manifestations of the fall - shone forth the light of Jesus' love. He carried me through each devastating loss, always pointing my wounded soul to the hope of a coming day when sin and death and suffering would be no more.

He was always helping me to see that beyond the cross, their is heaven.

Does not heaven become all the more real to you, once you've lost a child? Suddenly you find your heart tied to that unseen place in a way you've never known before. To imagine my dear little ones with the Savior - that all-loving, all-caring, all-kind Jesus! To imagine them without the burden of sin or sadness to distract them from his perfect love! It fills my heart with joy. 

I'd like to share a poem with you today, dear sisters, which I briefly quote in my book, Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the WombIt is a poem by Elizabeth Prentiss, the author of the beloved book Stepping Heavenward. Elizabeth was no stranger to suffering the pain of losing a child as she shares in these powerful words, but she was also able to see the glorious realities of heaven beyond the pain. I pray that her words will bless your heart today if you are grieving the loss of a child of your own...

 

The Mother

by Elizabeth Prentiss

 

As I have seen a mother bend

With aching, bleeding heart,

O'er lifeless limbs and lifeless face -

So have I had to part

 

With the sweet prattler at my knee,

the baby from my breast,

And on the lips so cold in death,

Such farewell kisses prest. 

 

If I should live a thousand years

Time's hand cannot efface,

The features painted on my heart

Of each beloved face.

 

If I should bathe in endless seas

They could not wash away

The memory of these children's forms; -

How fresh it is to-day.

 

Ah, how my grief has taught my heart

To feel another's woe!

With what a sympathetic pang

I watch the tear-drops flow!

 

Dear Jesus! must Thou take our lambs,

Our cherished lambs away?

Thou hast so many, we so few - 

Canst Thou not let them stay?

 

Must the round limbs we love so well,

Grow stiff and cold in death?

Must all our loveliest flowerets fall

Before his ice breath?

 

Nay Lord, but it is hard, is hard -

Oh give us faith to see,

That grief, not joy is best for us

Since it is sent by Thee.

 

And oh, by all our mortal pangs

hear Thou the mother's plea -

Be gracious to the darling ones

We've given back to Thee.

 

Let them not miss the mother's love,

The mother's fond caress;

Gather them to Thy gentle breast

In faithful tenderness.

 

Oh Lead them into pastures green,

And unto living springs;

Gather them in Thine arms, and shield 

Beneath They blessed wings.

 

Ah, little reck we that we weep,

And wring our empty hands; -

Blessed, thrice blessed are infant feet,

That walk Immanuel's lands!

 

Blessed the souls that ne'er shall know

Of sin the mortal taint,

The hearts that ne'er shall swell with grief

Or utter a complaint!

 

Brief pangs for us, long joy for them!

Thy holy Name we bless,

We could not give them up to Thee,

Lord, if we loved them less!

I'd like to invite you to join me today at The Gospel Coalition where I'm sharing how the gospel relates to miscarriage.  And as always, feel free to contact me if you are in the midst of a miscarriage. I'd love to pray for you and offer any encouragement that I can.

Is Miscarriage Divine Punishment from God?

Jessalyn Hutto

In the third interview question I received from Rachel at The Purposeful Wife in regard to my book, we tackled a very important question:

"You discuss how miscarriage is never God's punishment of our personal sin, because of our standing in Christ. While I am 100% in agreement here, I couldn't help but think of David and Bathsheba's infant dying as a result of their sin. How do you understand this story within your theological framework? How could we give Gospel hope to a woman who brings it up in concern that her miscarriage was divine punishment?"

Inheritance of Tears is a short book, and purposefully so. We wanted it to be resource that could easily be handed out to grieving women--both to those who have a theological foundation and those who do not. For this reason, many of the topics I cover in its 100 pages, can certainly be studied in greater depth. This topic is one of them. I was so grateful to have the opportunity to further explore this idea with Rachel: that while death and suffering are a result of sin, we shouldn't immediately link a specific sin to a specific trial.

You can read my full response here.

How Jesus Comforts the Woman Who Miscarries

Jessalyn Hutto

Today, over at The Purposeful Wife, I am sharing one of the many incredible ways that Jesus is able to identify with the woman who miscarries. The fellowship that he offers to us in our suffering is a blessing that can often be overlooked, but if we are careful to seek him in the midst of our pain, he is faithful and willing to help us in our time of need. I'd love to share with you how Jesus did that for me. I hope you will join me over at Rachel's blog.

Today's Question from Rachel: "I loved the part of your book in which you identified specific ways that Jesus can relate and minister to women suffering miscarriage. When and how did this first occur to you?" (Read my answer here.)

Tuesday's Question from Rachel: "What has your personal grieving process after your miscarriages looked like? I know that every woman is different, and thought this might be encouraging to moms who have recently lost little ones and are wondering if the pain ever abates. While my miscarriage of six years ago seems distant, the more recent one still stings. Do you feel completely healed at this point, or does the memory of your losses still profoundly affect you at times?" (Read my answer here.)

I will be answering two more questions from Rachel next week, so be sure to like her page on Facebook so that you don't miss them.

What My Grieving Process Looked Like After Miscarriage

Jessalyn Hutto

I'm so happy to have the opportunity to share more about my miscarriage experiences over at The Purposeful Wife today. While every miscarriage and every woman is different, I know that it can be helpful to hear the testimony of God's faithfulness to another when you are walking through a similar trial. Therefore, I pray that this little description of my own healing process will be a blessing to other women who are in the midst of miscarriage.

Over the next two weeks, I will be answering Rachel's questions regarding pregnancy loss and my book Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb. I hope you will join us as we discuss this painful trial in the context of the good news of the gospel.

Also, I'd like to invite you to send in any questions you may have about miscarriage, grieving, or the book. You can do so through the comments of these posts or by emailing me. I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Mother's Day to the Woman Who's Miscarried

Jessalyn Hutto

“Happy Mother’s Day, dear sister.”

Does it seem cruel to say such a thing? 

Does it sound as though I am insensitive to your loss?

I will be the first to admit that the words don’t come out very comfortably. But I pray that you will trust that I have no desire to belittle your pain or to to make light of your current grief. I don’t wish to add to the painful reminders of your loss that so  easily characterize this holiday.

But I want to say it to you, sweet sister.

I want you to know that you are worth celebrating this Mother’s Day—That your desire for motherhood, that your willingness to open your womb to new life, and that your current mourning is worth recognizing. 

You are worth recognizing because you are a mother.

What is a mother anyway? Why do we, as a society, set aside a special day to lift up the women in our lives who have children? Is it the mere ability to reproduce that is worth celebrating? If we are focusing on the ability to reproduce, it is God whom we should be celebrating, not mothers, for only he can give life where there was once nothing... 

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How Can You Help A Friend Who Miscarries?

Jessalyn Hutto

Since the release of Inheritance of Tears, my life has been quite a whirlwind. Very little of the craziness, however, has been a result of the book! In truth, there have been many days over the past two months that I've completely forgotten that something as wonderfully exciting as publishing a book, has taken place. Regular life--the joys and insanity of caring for a household of 6--has been more than enough to occupy my time, thoughts and energy.

And so, as reviews for the book have started to filter in, I've been in a constant state of wonder at God's willingness to use me to serve the church in this way. I'm so happy to see Inheritance of Tears being well-received and pray that it will bear much fruit as it falls into the hands of women who need it. 

I'd like to send out a huge "Thank You!" to every single person who has shared about this book. I'm hopeful that your kind efforts will lead to many women being encouraged in their darkest hours.

Recently, I've had the wonderful opportunity to answer some very practical questions regarding miscarriage and how to lovingly serve those who are mourning the loss of their children.

At this time, there are two separate interviews (more to come!) that I would like to share with you. I  hope you find them helpful as you seek to minister to those who are suffering...

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