I remember the silence in the ultrasound room. It was unnerving, and I knew something was wrong. The words that soon followed confirmed my suspicions: “I cannot find a heartbeat.” It seemed like a cruel joke. My appointment was supposed to confirm life, but instead I was staring at death. My tears began to flow, and the somber reality became raw grief.
It was five long years before we held our first baby. Ironically, my daughter was born four months before we moved overseas. My joy of finally having a child danced with my grief of taking her away from family.
I will never know this side of heaven why the Lord allowed those arduous years to pass before He gave us children. It was certainly not according to what we had planned, but it had brought us to a tender spot of thankfulness. Our journey to having our first child had been difficult. It was a barren season for my soul as well. My heart felt broken. In the pain of infertility and loss, I allowed anger and bitterness at God to take a deep root. The grief had overcome me like a winter storm cloud.
God was patient. Slowly, like the winter soil thawing for spring, my soul warmed. My mind roused from grief, and the words of a wise friend brought encouragement. “Don’t tell me the things you don’t know about God; tell me the things you do know.” I started to list them off mentally. 1. God is good. 2. God is in control. 3. God is the author of life… My perspective changed, my trust deepened, and new growth replaced my weeds of bitterness.
In the middle of a muggy Manila night, and only 20 months apart from her sister, we welcomed our second daughter into this world. I hadn’t been ready for another, and I felt guilty for having these feelings. I didn’t want to deliver in a foreign hospital, but our furlough was many months away. My heart had wrestled with a waterfall of emotions. My mind had more questions than answers. Could I really have this baby overseas? I quieted my heart before Him and returned to what I knew to be true about God. A new perspective budded.
My husband and I were starting to talk about having a third child when I found myself staring at an ultrasound monitor in a tiny provincial clinic. This wasn’t what we had planned. My fourth pregnancy was labeled high-risk due to complications. Our family was busy in ministry. These complications meant a lot of changes and concerns. I was remembered the truth that God’s ways are not my ways, and His timetables are not mine as well. We took an unplanned furlough and had to extend it for several months after she was born because of her own health problems. It was a challenging season in our lives, but we took on the discipline to list what things we knew about God. An attitude of praise bloomed.
Only God can breathe life into our cells, and we can do nothing to add to or take away from His authority over life. My fifth pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Was it caused by the tropical virus my body had just fought off before I had gotten pregnant? Or could it have been from the stresses and hardships of village living? I would never fully have answers to these questions.
Once again, I focused on the things that I did know about God. His authority over life does not fall short in a third-world hospital bed or inside a country whose medical system is more broken than the problem we are trying to fix. He is not caught unaware of the diseases we may face or the constant viruses taxing our immunities. God is not trying to punish us or take away our blessings when our fleshly bodies fail. This world has fallen, but God is still good.
Our last baby didn’t follow many of the standard rules of pregnancy. It is very fitting for his personality; he still doesn’t like to follow the rules. I spent many days in the hospital due to pregnancy complications. I spent many months on bedrest growing our 6th child. Despite all I knew to be true, I still wrestled with the anxiety of a high-risk pregnancy in a foreign country. I still had many questions, and I wondered if I needed to go back to my passport country to deliver. I still feared I might miscarry again. I had to purposely take my thoughts captive and let them be grounded in His truths.
Sufferings and hardships are a guarantee in this world. As long as we wait for the Lord to return, there will be the pain of complicated pregnancies, difficult births, miscarriages and perhaps one of the hardest griefs, infertility. The emotions we experience from these sufferings are painful, and the road can be lonely. Our emotions grow weary, and our souls become downcast. I pray that as we put our hope in Him, we know that our God is far greater than any of the questions, sorrows, or fears that we may bring to Him. He is strong enough to carry all of our burdens, and we will find rest in the arms of The Great Comforter.
How has God spoken to you in the midst of pain and grief? Despite all the sufferings, have you also been able to see Him working in your life?