Dear Abby recently published a letter from a woman whose daughter died:
“I am writing this not only for myself, but for all parents who have lost a child…. I know people mean well when they encourage me to get on with my life, but this is my life.” Abby responded, “…the death of a child is the most devastating loss parents can suffer and the experience is life-changing.”
Abby’s right. And that’s true whether the child you lose is twenty years old, as the letter writer’s daughter was, or just a few weeks in utero. Sadly, Abby stopped there. She offered compassion — but no words of hope — for the parent who is convinced her life can never know the kind of joy it did before her daughter died.
Can you ever find hope when the one who embodied your hope for the future dies? Is there anything but grief to be felt when the highly-prized idea of life with a much-beloved child comes to a tragic end?
It depends on what you choose to believe.
Here’s what I mean….
After four years of infertility, Anna and Nick had finally conceived through IVF. Then, Anna began bleeding a few weeks ago. They lost the baby. In a painfully honest blog post, Nick wrote, “What if I want to sink? What if I want just for a minute to revel in my grief, to wonder if I deserve it, to claim I saw it coming because nothing good should happen to me?”
Like the mother who wrote to Abby, Nick was tempted to believe that darkness had a claim on his spirit that was justifiable. He felt the pull of that darkness and wondered if he deserved it. Was this the future he should plan on, despite all they had hoped for? Was this his destiny: loss, grief, hopelessness?
He wrote, “Like Peter, I know that sooner or later I must stop looking at the waves and call out to Jesus – and Matthew 14:31 tells me His response: ‘Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.’ I may not know why [we lost our baby], but I do know my Savior.”
That’s what Abby missed completely.
Sinking is never the end of your story if God is the author of that story. Loss may be the beginning of the story, and grief may be the middle. Despair may be the end of a particular chapter, but it is never the end of the story. There is always hope because God always redeems. That is who He is: our Redeemer.
He is also our Source of strength and our Comforter: “He will lead them to springs of living water; And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” He is full of compassion for the losses that take our breath away and leave us staggering. Losses He knew were coming. Losses that plunge us into a darkness that seems impenetrable, and in which we see no cause for hope.
Thankfully, God can see what and when we can’t. “Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. He will bring me out in the light; and I will see his righteousness.”
Nick knows there is cause for hope even if he doesn’t feel hopeful. His hope is not embodied in the baby they just miscarried, but in the God who creates and sustains life according to His purpose.
That same God tells us, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
When we are sinking – overwhelmed by grief and unable to save ourselves – He will reach out to save us. Jesus did it for Peter. And I promise, God will do it for you. When He does, don’t let go.