So . . . Mom, I want to tell you something. My doctor thinks I may have miscarried, but it’s uncertain at this point. We probably won’t know for sure for another week.”
I paused as my mom spoke softly in return. “Congratulations either way. Whether you have the baby here on earth with you or not till heaven, it is still a special thing.”
That word—congratulations—stayed with me.
When hard moments come, most of us find ourselves at a loss for words. And certainly no one else who heard my pain dared to utter that risky word again, though as you may well guess I did hear my fair share of clichés. The top three? “I am sorry for your loss,” “I can’t imagine the pain you are going through,” and “I am praying for you.”
Honestly, these phrases brought some measure of comfort along with the genuine concern of the ones who offered them, but what really stayed with me was that unexpected word.
A Weekend of New Life and Lost Life
The following weekend held three defining moments. My third-born celebrated his birthday. Then, my oldest two children celebrated their spiritual birth through baptism at our church. Lastly, my fourth child, the one in my womb, passed—never to be born on earth.
I voiced my feelings to God, “Why did you choose to mingle these events? Why as one child is raised from the depths of the water, another is simultaneously being drawn from the depths of my womb?”
Both the creating and passing of life inside one’s own body is a draining feeling. Three other pregnancies taught me the weariness that comes from the forming of life. But feeling a soul slip out of you—that’s a frailty not easily explained.
Comfort did not come in answers. It didn’t come from any feeling that my child was now in a better place, or a hope that we would finally meet when my life on earth is spent. My biggest comfort came from knowing the character of my God and my creator.
What’s the riverbed for the river of peace?
We talk about experiencing Christ’s “unsurpassing peace” in our religious vocabulary, but often fail to realize that this peace doesn’t mysteriously invade our hearts. Though the anxious heart is beckoned to find relief through the act of “prayer and thanksgiving,” that prayer and gratitude stem from an assurance already established in our hearts that God is good, God is loving, and God is merciful.
Words from Colossians fortified my mind: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
I needed to practice remembrance. And Scripture came to my comfort again as I rose to sing in church that “celebration” Sunday:
“Jesus, all things were made in Jesus, the light of all
Is Jesus, our life is found in him.”
Truth from Scripture mirrored in a song. I wiped a few tears from my eyes and expressed my pain through music affirming again his character and sustaining power in the midst of my weakness.
The Face of Grief
A few days later, my husband asked, “Do you want to give our child a name?” To name our baby was to assign a face to my grief. I wasn’t sure if I could do that.
But I found myself coming across the word hesed in my reading. I paused.
This Hebrew word is used throughout the Old Testament to describe the character of God, specifically as he relates to his people through a covenant relationship. It doesn’t fully translate into English, but some of the glosses used include loving kindness, covenant faithfulness, or steadfast love.
Suddenly I knew that if I chose a name, it had to be one that pointed me toward the face of God—specifically to his faithful and eternal love for his people.
Yes, I want to celebrate life in all its many forms, but most importantly I want to celebrate the character of God. Our Hesed would forever be a reminder of his hesed.
Cover photo by Mat Reding.
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