Grief without the gospel leads to despair, but Christian grief holds onto hope. We know sin and death will one day end because we have the surety of Christ’s resurrection.
I’m a mom, though I may not look like it to the world. My shopping cart holds no toddler, my arm totes no diaper bag, but my heart is full of love for two children I never met.
Some of you may look like a mom of two, when really you have three babies. Others have multiple children in heaven with only one visible babe on earth. And let’s not forget the ache of those struggling with infertility.
Our stories are different, but our arms seem emptier than we expected.
How do we thrive in a season of loss and grief this deep? Is it even possible?
In Psalm 13, David gives us a glimpse inside the heart of a believer facing suffering. His lament and subsequent praise remind us you can be wholly grieved and experience pure joy at the same time. When our joy is founded in Jesus and the gospel, we’re free to lament the deep losses of life with eyes fixed on him.
In the Bible, thriving often looks a lot like growing. It’s often painful to feel the changes and stretches within my heart as God sanctifies me through trials. But this is good news, because it means the Christian can grow and even thrive in any season or circumstance.
As I walk through this ongoing season of waiting and longing, with the grief that follows closely behind, my heart nestles into this beautiful truth: we can do nothing apart from Jesus.
It is only through abiding in Christ that we face each day with hope. Only through Christ are we able to rejoice with others as we feel our own sorrow. It’s impossible for us to respond to the woes of the world without being connected to the vine.
Let’s strive to abide in Jesus through any season of suffering through diligently studying his word, approaching his throne in prayer, and fellowshipping with our local church bodies.
He will meet you there.
Infertility is painful for countless reasons, but one reason is women can feel isolated from or misunderstood by their loved ones.
I know this struggle all too well.
Now that I’m in my early 30’s, I’m the only woman in my circle of friends who does not have children. I respect and admire their commitment to their families, for that is a good, godly calling! However, the natural result tends to leave me, a childless woman, feeling removed or not properly cared for.
How, then, should you love your friend suffering through infertility?
There isn’t one ideal approach, and every woman is different but here’s what I’ve learned. By leaning into Christ, you can love and serve her well through these three Gospel-centered ways:
(1) Mourn with her.
(2) Remind of her of her identity in Christ.
(3) Speak truth, not fluff.
There is unending grace for you and your friend as you navigate this trial together. Be committed, be bound, be unshakable.
“‘Am I going to continue to trust God, even if he never fulfills the longings of my heart?’
That question filled my mind after the doctor informed me that I was born with a somewhat rare medical condition that prevented me from bearing my own babies. The news almost devastated me. For the first time in my life, I faced a situation I couldn’t quickly fix or work my way out of. It didn’t seem fair. With a tear-stained face, I entered into the greatest wrestling match of my life with the Lord.
‘Where was God in my childlessness?’
‘How does the Bible speak to my suffering?’
‘Why would God withhold apparent good from me?’
Maybe you’ve asked similar questions. Maybe you’ve struggled month after month to get pregnant, to no avail. Maybe you’ve lost a precious little one by miscarriage. Maybe you’ve had one child, but are experiencing second hand infertility and another baby won’t come.
God met me in the midst of my longing for motherhood.
As I searched scripture for hope in the midst of my suffering, I learned that the pages of the Bible weren’t silent on the topic of childlessness. Seven barren women are highlighted in the Bible.
I’m glad the Lord included the struggles of other women like myself—women longing to be mothers.
Because the good news the gospel offers in the midst of our pain is that our identity isn’t in our ability to bear babies. The greatest role of a woman is not to be a mother, but rather to glorify God with our whole lives in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
Biblical womanhood is about boldness, tenacity, tender heartedness, and loving the Lord and his people.
Even if we never have that longed for baby; even if our family looks different than we’d imagine, we can rest in the fact that the Lord promises his presence. In him, we can find hope.
Press into him and allow him to speak life into your soul.”
My husband and I host a weekly small group comprised of eight married couples who are all under the age of 35. At the close of each of our meetings, the girls and guys divide to share more intimately and to pray for one another specifically. Our semester’s praises and prayer requests were all over the map, especially in the realm of fertility and childbearing, and we rarely left our time together without the shedding of tears.
At times I feared that our group would not survive because of the fact that we were walking triggers for one another. We fought feelings of guilt in weeping and feelings of contempt in our rejoicing.
But instead, God caused this community to abound in love for each other. I witnessed the beauty that emerges in the tension when weeping and rejoicing are happening all at once.
We know that just as Christ assigns our roles, he is sovereign over our experiences. We can trust that whether our families are growing or we are in seasons of waiting or mourning, there is nothing that happens outside of his sovereign will, and that he is working all things for our good.
When the tension of weeping and rejoicing is painful and awkward, we must resist the temptation to avoid each other. We must continue to meet together, reminding each other of God’s goodness, and praying for one another.
There’s a reason we are called a body. We need one another.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered,” Jesus assures us. “Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” The argument here is not: people matter, therefore sparrows are insignificant. Rather: sparrows are significant, so how much more valuable are those created in God’s image?
God’s voice—not the voices in my head or those of my neighbor—is the final word on the matter: If he values the hairs of my head more than sparrows, how much more must he care for my child—his own image bearer?
And when that child falls to sleep, hidden in my wife’s womb, will the Father in heaven not notice the father on earth? God cares for these little ones. God cares about mothers. God cares about fathers. Both moms and dads have every right to mourn.
I left the meeting as early as I could excuse myself and came home, hobbling in our back door, running to the bathroom. I knew what to expect but nothing prepares you for the emotional and physical toll of blood loss, hormone loss, and the tiny baby loss in the moment.
Before I got married I thought, at times, women could be dramatic about their infertility or miscarriages. I thought: “Children are a blessing, but they’re not an idol. Why is your world falling apart because of this?” As I lay sobbing on our bed that day, I hiccupped through the words, “I just want it to stop.”
... The Psalmist David knew this slow drive too. He said the words, “How long, O Lord?” nine times in the book of Psalms. He was desperate for the Lord to relent, to show up, to release, and to end David’s suffering. We, like David, are not good in the middle of things. We don’t like it. We can anticipate the danger or suffering ahead, even know the right theology to regard it, but when the gushing pain begins, where is our hope then?
Our hope is in the permission to say, with David, “How long, O Lord?” And then to keep saying it, for as long as we are still waiting for it to relent.
... Our Father knows the searing loss of losing a child. Our Savior said these words on the cross, “My God. My God. Why have you forsaken me?” Our Spirit groans with us in our weakness with words too deep for us to even understand. Surely there is permission to sit, ache, mourn, and weep in this middle place?
October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month and we at Risen Motherhood want to recognize all of you who have lost a child too soon. Below you'll find a selection of articles, posts, music and podcasts that we pray encourages a mom in the midst of grief. Just click on the links at the bottom of each quote to go to the original source.