As I scroll through Facebook, my heart grows heavy, not just at the loss of life and property, but the loss of innocence as people come to terms with the fact that bad things can and do happen to everyone.
I have never been a tornado victim, and I have never had cancer. However, I have experienced loss and grief. I have been where so many people apparently are today. I wish I could make it better, but I can’t.
Only God can. Even as I type these words, I know some will be tempted to stop reading this post. Some will smirk at what probably sounds like “something she would say” and page back to Facebook or whatever link brought them here. Still, the truth remains. God is healer. God is comforter, and God is Savior to those who allow Him to be.
We lost a baby back in 1998. I was still in my first trimester, and some people felt that minimized my loss. They told me as much. I think they were trying to help, but phrases like “you’ll have another one,” “something must have been wrong with it,” and “it was just a bunch of cells” were hurtful beyond expression, and my heart still bears the scars of wounds torn by well-meaning loved ones who didn’t know what to say.
At the time, my husband was a youth minister. When we first told the youth group we were expecting, never dreaming that anything could go wrong, they were thrilled for us, patting my tummy way too early to feel anything, making me cards, and talking about what a great big brother Hunter would be. They couldn’t wait for a new youth group baby. Then the contractions started.
I’m sure the weeks following our miscarriage were awkward for our teenagers. Most of them did exactly what I would have done at that age. They put on happy faces and avoided the subject. Some avoided me altogether. I wanted to tell them I was fine, but I wasn’t. I cried a lot, and I brought Hunter with me to youth group events rather than drop him off at the nursery. I wanted to be with him and hold him tight.
I spent weeks feeling isolated in the middle of friends before I found relief. It came from a very unlikely source, a thirteen-year-old who didn’t know any better than to say what she was thinking, God bless her heart. She rang my doorbell one afternoon when Hunter was asleep. I rushed to the door and opened it before she had a chance to ring it again and wake him up. There she stood, wildflowers in her hand, tears in her eyes.
“I’m sorry your baby died,” she blurted, giving me exactly what I didn’t even know I needed, plainly stated acknowledgement of my loss, no sugar coating and no guesses at why God might have let it happen.
I don’t remember what I said in response, but I know that I squeezed that little girl up tight. She didn’t stay long (I think the intensity of my hug might have spooked her a little), and as soon as she left, I cried so hard that my entire torso ached afterward.
I still have a hard time remembering or talking about the baby that we lost (the one whose name we keep between ourselves and Jesus) without crying, but over time, Jesus has brought healing and wholeness. He has been Comforter and Friend, but our innocence is gone forever. We know bad things happen and ask why just like everyone else.
To those who are asking why right now, let me offer the best that I’ve come up with in the fourteen years I’ve had to think about it.
We live in a broken world. Way back when, Adam sinned, and what should have been the Garden of Eden for all of us turned into something scary and unpredictable. No matter what we do or don’t do, bad things are going to happen, and we have a choice to make. We can struggle through on our own, confused, alone, angry, and fearful, or we can let God be our refuge and strength in the times of trouble that are sure to come.
Why doesn’t God just keep bad things from happening? I can’t say for sure, but I do know this. People don’t think about death, eternity, and their need for God when everything is good, but when bad things happen, we seek Him. What if tragedy is actually evidence of God’s grace and mercy? After all, the Bible says that this life is just a breath in comparison to eternity, and Hell is worse than anything we could possibly experience on earth if only because it lasts forever. Isn’t it much more important for us to spend this breath preparing for eternity, accepting God’s give of salvation through Jesus Christ and demonstrating the power of faith in all circumstances so others might find Him, than it is for us to be happy or safe?
I think so, but then I’ve had time to heal.
You are hurting right now, and I have no wish to minimize your loss or dismiss your pain. This is simply an attempt to encourage. I know it is clumsy at best, so please forgive me if my words have missed their mark. I love you dearly, friends, and I will continue to pray for you.
I am very, very sorry that your innocence died.