So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.
~1 Samuel 1:7 NKJV~
It doesn’t always trip me up the way it did today. The memory of losing baby after baby no longer hangs over me like a dark cloud the way it did just a few years ago. Much of the time now, whenever the memory does come up I feel guilty for still feeling bad. I mean, I’ve been blessed with the most wonderful little girl that anyone could want. Why grieve what you don’t have when you have been blessed with the best? It would be great if it were as easy as being slapped upside the head and being told to, “Snap out of it!” But it doesn’t work that way. A word, a vision, a song, a smell…these things can trigger the worst of memories for a woman who would have been a mother but for some disastrous turn of events that took the life of her child before it even had the opportunity to come to fruition. For mothers who have endured these tragedies, I humbly sympathize. Although I’ve lost children, I know that my experiences with miscarriage aren’t nearly as awful as they could have been and I send prayers of peace and love and strength to those of you who are still tortured by the memories of the losses you’ve experienced. I write these words today to remind you that God loves you and He hasn’t allowed these losses to come into your lives to hurt you.
This morning I was listening as Pastor Jack Graham was telling a story related to the Passover. The worst possible thought hit me as he spoke. The idea caught fire in my mind that maybe the losses I suffered were meant to be some kind of symbolic punishment for the life I led before I came back to Christ. I started thinking that maybe the idea of the Passover was exactly what He’d had in mind when my precious lambs were taken from me. Maybe, they were meant to be a sort of Passover sacrifice in some way. But that just doesn’t make sense. My God loves me. He isn’t just waiting for opportunities to punish me. He wasn’t just sitting up in heaven waiting for me to be happy at the thought of bringing another child into the world so that He could jerk the rug out from under me. He wasn’t rubbing His mighty hands together and plotting the demise of my children. No, if anything, He was waiting patiently for me to look up instead of sinking deeper and deeper into a depression that could have killed me.
My God is faithful. And I was so mad at Him. For years I used the loss of those children as justification for not trusting Him. I felt like I couldn’t possibly have a relationship with Him again after He’d allowed these things to happen. Like Job, after experiencing all of that loss, I also wondered why was I not hidden like an infant who had never seen the light. Why let someone live only to put them through this kind of pain? What purpose could it serve? I couldn’t see it then, but now, about five years removed from the last lost child, I almost understand. When I meet a woman who is hurting because she has lost a child, I can talk to her. I can share with her. I can witness to her. We have the same questions, we have the same fears, we share many of the same sorrows.
From the place where I stand today, I can tell her that God means to bring her beauty for those ashes. The child was not lost in vain. For those women who crave motherhood, but have not yet been able to bring it to pass, I can reassure them that God answers our prayers and that while it may look like we will never have a child to love…he brings us opportunities to mother in so many ways. Whether it be the niece or nephew that looks up to their favorite aunt, the child next door whose parents never have time to talk to him or her, or even the five or six hundred children who come to grace the doors of your school library when you land a job as a school librarian just a year after losing your last child. Yes, He brings us opportunities to share the love of a mother with a child who needs it so very much even when we don’t realize that was His intention. Our God is an awesome God and His healing takes many forms.
I know that losing a child is painful, sometimes beyond what any other person on the planet can comprehend. I think about the children who could have been and sometimes, I consider the fact that by all rights, I should have had six children. But in light of all that has occurred in the years since those losses, I see now that the one, wonderful child I am privileged to be a mother to is so very deserving of all the love that I can give her. I take comfort in the fact that when I was broken and wanting so badly to have been able to reverse the losses I suffered, God put me in a place filled with the smiles of beautiful children who brought me many hours of happiness and heartache…just like my own children would have done. God gave me a beautiful bunch of nephews that I love very much. God gave me the opportunity to be a light for a child who may be living in a very dark place. And while I’m not necessarily called to children’s ministry, I can still minister to children each and every day by being a God-fearing, God-loving Christian influence for a child who may not have one other soul to show them the love of Christ. Motherhood has no boundaries for the woman whose heart is filled with the love of Christ.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who love, who guide, who teach, who hear, who watch, who entertain, and who accept the awesome responsibility placed on women to be role models and raise up children with the knowledge they need to survive and the love they need to thrive in this world.