“One does not surrender a life in an instant. That which is lifelong can only be surrendered in a lifetime.” –Elisabeth Elliot
On Tuesday I sat in the waiting room of my OB/GYN’s office a bundle of nerves. People were everywhere, pharmaceutical representatives rushing in and out, nurses checking charts and calling names, children bored out of their minds and finding amusement in disturbing the “peace,” husbands glassily staring at their phones, women with large, pregnant bellies struggled to get comfortable in the poorly chosen chairs available to them.
You can tell who is there for a regular check up and who is about to find out of they are having a little boy or little girl. The later are visibly excited and almost leap out of their chair at the sound of their name. They come out of the ultrasound room with precious black and white pictures and practically skip to the nearest baby store to pick out a few gender specific items to make the whole miracle a little more real.
I’ve been blessed to have two of these wonderful experiences. I remember being absolutely stunned to find out I was carrying a boy for the first time. What a miracle pregnancy is, how marvelous that a little human is growing within you! Phone calls were made, little boy colors filled my registry, and we immediately began to hammer out a name.
My last visit to the ultrasound room didn’t end so euphorically. The picture I left with didn’t symbolize life, it symbolized loss. It gave me a peak into a womb that carried a silent, motionless little girl whom I would never buy anything pink for. Instead of skipping out of the room we hurried, hoping that most of the other couples in the waiting area wouldn’t notice our heaving chests and swollen faces.
Often when a woman finds out the devastating news that her child has passed away her body doesn’t immediately miscarry. This was the case for both of my miscarriages.
Carrying a child who is no longer living is a surreal experience. Part of you wants the baby out as soon as possible so that you can begin to move on, and another huge part wants to hold on to what remains of your pregnancy, unable to give up the precious baby entrusted to you. There is a sense of denial running through every fiber of your being, praying and hoping for a miracle, begging for the Lord to intervene and give life to your child.
The days of waiting can be excruciating as you struggle to accept what the Lord is allowing to happen to your body, as you cradle a belly that once held life, but now only holds sorrow and pain. What hope, what joy can be found in such a situation? What peace can a woman who once again finds herself pregnant cling to as she fears experiencing the same pain and sorrow once again?
Eight months ago, laying in the fetal position on our bed weeping, begging the Lord for courage to face such a terrible loss, [intlink id="5931" type="post"]I offered up my body and my child as a sacrifice of praise[/intlink], I confirmed his Lordship over every aspect of my life, including this most precious of gifts. Earlier this week, as I sat in my Dr.’s waiting room full of joy and anxiety and then later laid on the exam table waiting to hear a heartbeat (which I did, by the way) through that precious doppler machine, the Holy Spirit challenged me to once again remember that I am not my own.
We who are Christ’s are his completely.
Every created being is subject to our Heavenly Father whether he or she accepts that authority or rejects it. As the Creator and Sustainer, every moment of life is held together by his powerful Word. As Graeme Goldsworthy says so well, “There are no laws of nature that are self-sustaining. If God were to withdraw for a split second his powerful word, the universe would cease to exist in that same split second. That is why man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Deut 8:3; see also Ps 104:24-30). So Christ, as the creative Word of God, sustains “all things by his powerful word” (Heb 1:3), and “in him all things hold together” (Col 1:17).”
The gospel message tells us that the human race has as a whole rejected God’s authority and lives in constant rebellion against his rule. Romans 1 explains that our sinful nature denies the knowledge of God, his reality, and his involvement in our world. We naturally suppress the truth and claim “rights” that are not really ours. But the truth is, he is the only one with the complete right to govern life in every respect. He who brings forth life from dust, who fills our lungs with breath, who upholds the regular pumping of our beating hearts, has all authority and all power. He has every right to do whatever he wills with us, from the jobs we hold to the children we bear, nothing is outside his rightful sovereignty.
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him,
a pot among earthen pots!
Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’
or ‘Your work has no handles’?
Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’
or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?’”
Thus says the LORD,
the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;
will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?
(Isaiah 45:9-11 ESV)
The natural man does not accept this. Cursed with the sickness of sin, we strive against God’s rule in our lives from birth, until Christ intervenes. Then, when we who were once dead in our trespasses and sins are made alive through the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, we are given new natures that are no longer bound to sin (Romans 6:4). Instead, they are bound to righteousness–bound to Christ (Romans 6:18). We no longer reject his authority in our lives, but humbly submit to his good will. We see him for what he is: good, loving, wise, honest, holy, kind, and so much more. We know that this Potter who is constantly molding and shaping our lives is doing so for our good and for his glory. Our focus shifts from our wants, desires, and dreams to sacrificing everything for the Savior who held nothing back from us.
For the woman who has miscarried, a new pregnancy brings the fear of death once again visiting her body and heart. She fears that the Lord will not sustain her child’s life, that he has other plans for her, plans that she would rather not experience. In the midst of all of this is a battle against the old self, against the dead man who loved to doubt the goodness of God and fought against his authority. There is a constant fight to trust in the Savior who, though he was God, suffered a gruesome, humiliating death so that he could absorb the wrath of God that our sins deserved.
Dear sisters, remember as you walk the fearful path of pregnancy, that you no longer belong to yourself.
Christ has purchased you with his blood.
Being servants of Christ and submitting to his will doesn’t stop at who you marry, how you spend our money, or what profession you choose. His sovereignty invades every aspect of your life including your womb. You must be willing to allow him to do whatever he desires with your body, because it is no longer yours, it is his.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25 ESV)
You can have hope and joy in a new pregnancy knowing that Christ works all things according to the council of his will. The health or death of your new baby has purpose, the joy or sorrow you experience has purpose, the physical ease or stress your body undergoes has purpose. He is bringing glory to his name through every aspect of your life. Each circumstance is a part of his plan, a plan that he has lovingly and graciously included you in.
“God is God. Because he is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what he is up to.” –Elisabeth Elliot
Be it a healthy pregnancy ending with a beautiful little baby or another painful loss, may we have the courage to echo Mary’s words, “Behold, I am the bondservant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” For only in complete surrender to the Lord do we find complete joy and fellowship with our Savior, Jesus Christ who surrendered all for us.
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”