The sting of death when you lose a child will flood the heart in moments of deep grief and mournful sorrow, but nothing can take away our hope in the reality that Jesus conquered death.
“My beautiful daughter was born almost a year ago. When I look at her, I feel the immense joy that comes from parenting a little one so dependent on me, a reminder of my dependence on Jesus alone. However, my joy in parenting did not come quickly or easily.
Within a few days of my daughter’s birth, I knew something was very wrong with me. I felt far away from everyone around me, even the baby I nursed and rocked gently in my arms. Postpartum depression, anxiety, and panic attacks struck me hard and fast.
I felt lost in a lonely world without warmth or joy.
During a Bible study on the book of Romans, a friend reminded me sin affects every area of our lives. My brain went haywire not because of personal weakness, but because we’re fallen people living in a fallen world in desperate need of a Savior.
God faithfully reminded me the world can’t and won’t be perfect. But God makes his presence known in the darkest places because he is the God of light, and his salvation through Jesus shines brighter than any dark place our bodies and minds bring us.
We serve a great God who sees time from the very beginning to the very end. Even the most hidden thoughts of my heart—those scary, terrifying, anxious thoughts—are under God’s mighty and compassionate care. God can still the racing thoughts of our hearts, and heal every recess of our broken minds. We know Jesus will return and establish his kingdom over all the earth, and the world will be beautiful, whole, and perfect forever.
No matter how motherhood challenges you, Jesus will shine light into your darkness and pull you out of the pit in which you are faltering—with strength, power, and the tender care of a mom holding her baby in her arms for the first time.”
Today’s article from Hannah Abrahamson discusses PPD. While we believe the gospel provides hope to women suffering from PPD, this topic requires sensitivity. We encourage anyone who is experiencing PPD to seek additional counsel from a trusted pastor, licensed counselor, or medical doctor.
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.
Nine weeks. Sixty-three days. Seven hundred fifty-six hours.
Those numbers measure the span of time I lived in the hospital in 2015.
The plan was simple: I was to continue carrying our second daughter, Alisa Jane, until it was no longer safe to keep her in my womb.
Recently, I told a friend about this experience, and she asked, ‘How did your family logistically make that happen?’
Thankfully, our little family didn’t just survive that season; we actually thrived, even in all the heartache and grief. Reflecting on the experience with the benefit of hindsight, I answered my new friend with the simple, yet profound, reason for this: ‘The body of Christ surrounded us.’
Speaking to the disciples on the eve of his death, Jesus said, ‘By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
We know God’s love means we are to offer this same type of love to those not yet covered by the blood of Christ. Yet sometimes, I wonder if we have neglected to remember the true intent of Christ’s words on the eve of his death. Jesus was concerned that night with how they would love one another.
Jesus anticipated that his followers would be known by their love for one another, because the uniqueness of their love would reflect the greatest love this world has ever known: God’s incomprehensible, unconditional love.
This is the distinguishing characteristic of the Church.
Those nine weeks I lived at Baylor Hospital were some of the most humbling days of my life. I watched as believers from our community surrounded us in support. Friends with children of their own gave of their time. Christians we hardly knew provided meals, grocery shopped, and gave financially to help us navigate that trying season. Believers—some I had never even met—visited me almost daily, bringing with them the fragrance of Christ to the 6th floor at Baylor.
When we operate as he intended for us to live, we, the body of Christ, are a magnificent reflection of the greatest love known to man—God’s love for us.
The fear in the room was palpable.
I had just spoken to a group of moms and girls on the primary topic of social media under a gospel-centered framework, and I was left to field questions from the moms. But you know how one person’s anxiety can get a whole group riled up? That’s what happened.
But I get it. Raising kids in today’s culture is hard. Especially raising kids who love the Lord. .
However, it is far from hopeless.
I can recall one trial in particular I would not want to relive, but I would also not undo the good that came from it. When my daughter was in high school she battled an eating disorder, a struggle that stemmed largely from how she saw herself compared to others. Social media was the primary avenue for the comparison (thus the reason for my talk to those fear-filled mothers), but not the heart of the problem.
Had life as her mom remained problem-free, I would have never believed that—deep down—the notion I really held to was that God is good as long as he works according to my plan, my way, my timetable.
I was forced to face my idols of control, comfort, and ease.
It’s never easy to see our sin, but seeing our sin is good because until we do, we don’t know how much we need a Savior. So with the struggle, pain, and worry also came the opportunity to grow in my own need of grace and dependence on God for all things.
So those things we fear and try at all costs to avoid, I get. No parent wants to wade through difficult issues with their kids. But sometimes the unavoidable things are God’s grace to us and our child.
Sometimes they are the very things he uses to draw us more to himself, and lead us to greater compassion and grace for others.
Six years ago, I went to bed happily married and woke up a widow and single mom to seven.
In the dark hours of that Friday morning, I groggily woke to my husband’s breathing. I reached over with my eyes still closed to nudge him and wake him out of it. He didn’t respond and as I slowly became more aware of what was happening.
Dan was taken by ambulance to the ER and I ran upstairs to pray with my kids before heading to the hospital. Everything in me wanted to assure them it would be alright and Daddy would be okay.
But I couldn’t make that promise. And before the sun was fully up that morning, I walked back through the door from the hospital to tell them their dad had passed away.
Being a single mom was nowhere in the range of possible plans for me.
The stark reminders that I was now a single mom were everywhere. When I signed my kids up for camp or basketball or vacation Bible school, I put N/A in the space for spouse’s information. When my daughter graduated high school and my son was honored midfield for football, I stood with them alone.
But once I was stripped of those expectations, I could see what was really true. While my earthly identity as a wife has changed, my eternal identity as a child of God hasn’t.
Oh, how I miss the insight Dan always provided when we hit a parenting hurdle. But the source of all wisdom hasn’t changed. God promises that ‘if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.’
While Dan is no longer here to work and bring home a salary for our family, the source of all provision hasn’t changed. God promises to meet our needs.
While I no longer have Dan’s prudence and experience to help me make decisions, the source of true guidance hasn’t changed.
God promises abundant life and joy, and that promise holds whether I am married or single; in the throes of raising kids or preening an empty nest; working outside the home or at home full time.
While the circumstances may have shifted, the source of abundance and the reason for joy hasn’t.
About eight years ago, our family hit a tough spot financially. I was weeks from delivering our third child when my husband came to me with the numbers; there was simply no more stretching an already stretched budget. We ended up on food stamps and Medicaid.
At first, my faith didn’t waver.
But then things went from bad to worse. As the weeks turned into months and the months to years, I found our financial woes hitting me in a place I’d never expected: motherhood.
To be a ‘good’ mother, culture tells us, you must feed your child organic, locally sourced food. To be a ‘good’ mother, it whispers, you must book a professional photo shoot for each new stage (as well buy new matching outfits.) To be a ‘good’ mother, we hear, you must have the perfectly accessorized nursery. And then as they grow older, to be a ‘good’ mother you must be able to pay for dance, music, and art lessons.
What I remember most about our lean years was the sense of helplessness and guilt I felt While my story may be a bit of an outlier, the desire to care for our children is a universal one.
‘Which of you,’ Jesus asks in Matthew, ‘if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?’ The heart of every loving parent is to provide good things for our children. So when we’re financially unable to give them ‘bread’, it can strike us to our very core.
As a Father himself, God knows and understands the weight of your mother heart. He knows how desperately you long to give your children good gifts and how much you despair when you can’t.
In the midst of our financial struggles, in the midst of my feelings of helplessness, God was feeding us and carrying my children in his arms. But more than caring for my children, God was also caring for me.
As I led them, he was gently leading me. And part of what he was gently leading me to was the understanding that he never intended for me to care for my children alone.
While I don’t know what the future holds, I do know this: The Lord is my Shepherd and so I shall not want. And because the Lord is my Shepherd, my children won’t want either. He will feed his flock. He will carry the lambs in his arms.
He will gently lead those that are with young.
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.
The birth of our babies—especially our first—is supposed to be magical. We expect a quick rebound from what’s often the most physically challenging experience in our lives. Messages fired at us on television, through the internet, and on social media aim to convince us: once we embrace our child for the first time, we’ll float our way through bliss.
What if our stories are different?
My first encounter with childbirth, for example, left me feeling as if I’d been tossed into a furnace.
I suffered, but I didn’t despair. Why not? I credit the hand of God. From the abundance of baby meals sent by friends and family, to the compassionate care of my OB, to the willingness of many to listen as I retold the story of my traumatic birth—I was cared for. The Lord met me in my furnace.
Through the fire, I had my clearest-yet view of Christ. I saw and felt his dedication to me. I learned to trust him not just day-by-day, but moment-to-moment. Postpartum depression slowed me down. I learned to savor the good moments.
"The fog of physical exhaustion, emotional weariness, and feelings of constant failure didn’t lift for at least the first year... I simply wasn’t myself; I felt like a hollow shell of a person. I didn’t enjoy being around people, was increasingly short-tempered...The difference was Postpartum Depression...
For those of you in the throws of PPD...You can rest. It isn’t solely up to you to fix yourself - physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Healing takes time. But as you wait, know God is working on your behalf...
By God’s grace, you can be honest with your husband, open with friends, and seek the counsel of medical professionals, boasting all the more gladly of your weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon you.
Postpartum depression can’t separate you from the love of God, friend (Romans 8:39). Because of the reconciling power of the gospel for believers, “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
Even when you’re hurting, trust the gospel’s prescription for your heart and the healing comfort of his nearness."
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.
Today I'm reminded of how far I am from being a good mother, a good friend, a good wife / sister / daughter / church member / volunteer – a good anything! I feel split in two, like I live in the in-between. I want to do better, oh how I long to do better. But the needs keep coming at me and I fail over and over again. I just can't seem to get it together.
At times, it can feel pretty bleak. Why can I not live out what I know, I know? If I have Christ, why do I sometimes feel lost? If I know his promises are true, why do I act like they don't exist?