An Underrated Agony

By Tim Campbell

F. Leroy Forlines once said that a miscarriage of a child is one of the most overlooked emotional traumas in life. I would add that a stillborn birth would also fit into that category. It is as if people in our culture, including the church culture, minimize the pain and agony of this loss simply because the baby didn’t come to full term. People think that since they didn’t get to have the baby for very long, they weren’t very attached to it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Family members, caregivers, friends, and the Church needs to awaken to the needs of those who have experienced miscarriage and stillbirth. I am certain we haven’t in the past and I am afraid there are still emotional scars in the lives of people from such an experience.

It is my firm belief that couples, and even families, need to seek counseling in such cases. Whether they see a professional counselor or simply speak to clergy, they need to work through the unexpected hurt and distress that this tragedy inflicts. However, most who will read this are not counselors or clergy. Most people have no training about such an issue. Nevertheless, there are some do’s and don’ts that can enable us to help people who are suffering from such a loss.

Some Realizations

  • Miscarriage and stillbirth is as painful as any death.

When people are married, they become one (Genesis 2:24). God designed marriage to be not only a spiritual bond, but a physical bond also. Nowhere is this more evident than in the physical consummation of marriage. When the wife is with child, it is the God-ordained human creation of that oneness. While that “oneness” is not lost when the child dies, the loss does inflict emotional loss to the couple who exist in that bond. They experience loss as one and it puts a strain on their bond.

  • This loss also has significant physical effects.

This is especially true for the mother. The process of pregnancy was well designed by God in anticipation of the child. While I have no medical training at all, anyone can observe that hormonal and physiological changes are experienced by the expectant mother. These changes are in preparation for the birth day. When that day is thwarted by the death of the infant before birth, during birth, or after birth, then the physical changes of her body do not match her feelings. Her body has prepared for a baby, but one is not there. The feelings in the emotions do not match the preparations made by the body and physical changes can be challenges all on their own.

It is also true that the father may undergo emotional changes that may lead to depression. To anticipate the miracle of birth and, perhaps having made plans for the future of the child, his disappointment will be overwhelming. It will probably fall his lot to dismantle the nursery and take the lead, as the head of the home, to support the mother in this loss. He may possibly ignore his own feelings in this process. If ignored, this could be catastrophic to his emotional and physical well-being. It could also adversely affect the couples marriage.

  • In these cases, hope is dashed.

When a couple and a family anticipate, with joyous expectation, the addition of another family member and in a moment those expectations are abruptly torn from them though death, it is very hard to manage psychologically. On many levels the human psyche is effected by the prospect of an offspring. Not only do we set our sights on the joys of children, but we also view them, perhaps subconsciously, as an extension of ourselves. When we bear children, the sting of our own mortality is lessened. We have a part of ourselves that will survive us. But when those hopes are smashed, we are affected in several unanticipated ways.

I certainly have not scratched the surface of the agony that is present when someone loses a child. However, I hope that I have brought this issue to the forefront.

 

Things To Not Say When Someone Miscarries

  • Ditch the angel talk.

Theologically, humans don’t become angels when they die. Practically, you are not helping when you say that God needed another little angel in heaven. Bereaved parents do not want to surrender their child to God to be an angel. Plus, God doesn’t need any more angels.

People should never say things like this when anyone dies. Ditch the angel and heaven talk, even if it is true. People must have the opportunity to grieve without feeling guilty that they didn’t want their loved one to go to heaven right now.

  • Don’t even think about telling the parents not to grieve because they can have another child.

This is one of the most insensitive comments that a person can make. It actually demeans humanity. This child was a person. This child was a soul. This baby was made in the image of God. He or she cannot be replaced or forgotten. And, by the way, they haven’t sailed off into never never land. They exist and will exist for all eternity.

  • Never tell parents they will get over this loss.

They will not. Again, Mr. Forlines I believe correctly states that the strongest relationship in the parent-child relationship. It is a not only a dependent relationship, it is a progenitive relationship.

Parents never get over the loss of a child. This is true when it comes to miscarriage or stillbirth. But it is also true in any stage of life. I believe it is also true of abortion. Never minimize or discount the loss of a child.

 

Truths By Which To Grieve

  • Realize that your baby is in heaven.

I’m not speaking just sympathetically, but theologically. When Jesus went to the cross, He paid for our sins, past, present and future. But there is another aspect of that payment that applies to this very matter that, I believe, will bring some degree of solace.

When father Adam and mother Eve sinned in the garden, they brought sin upon the race and upon their prosperity. This meant that we are all sinners by being a human. But in bringing that sin upon the race, it made it impossible for any of us to live a perfect, righteous life. So, we have sin imputed to us on two levels: 1. Racial sin because we too are humans and 2. Individual sin, because when we reach the age of accountability, we choose to sin.

But infants and young children have not reached the age of accountability. This means that they are not responsible for individual sins and thus need no forgiveness. But they are part of the race. They are humans. But on the cross, Jesus Christ paid for our individual sins, which is activated by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. But the sins of the race have already been paid in full by Christ’s sacrifice.

What this means is that every child that dies before the age of accountability goes to heaven because the sins of the race have already been paid in full by the blood of Jesus Christ. Your child is right with God.

See Romans 5:12 ff.

  • Your loved infant is perfect and enjoying their full faculties.

I personally believe that since there is no imperfection in heaven and since everything is perfect and completed that there is no immaturity in heaven. Your child will not be a baby, but will be perfect and mature.

  • Your will know your child in eternity.

If you are a born-again Christian, when you go to be with the Lord, you will know your child (1 Corinthians 13:12). We know that earthly relationships are not exactly how we will know each other. I believe our relationships will be enhanced. We will know each other in the context of the strongest, most intimate relationships that exist … that of children of God and brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

See 2 Samuel 12:23-24.

 

What We Can Do

  • Pray when someone loses a child.

We gloss over prayer so much. For so many “praying” is simply a cliché. It is a phrase that is mindlessly used by Christians and non-Christians alike. However, true and genuine prayer from a believer (only a true and obedient follower of Christ) moves the heart of God.

  • Be there without offering advice.

Never say, “I know how you feel.” Even if you have also suffered a similar trauma, some feelings have escaped your recollection. Always remember that everyone’s pain is always unique to them.

  • If the Holy Spirit prompt you offer this verse:

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Romans 8:26 (ESV)

The word “helps” means in the original language of the New Testament, “takes up the other side with you.” People who have lost a child many times can’t pray. This verse in explicit language tells us that we you can’t pray; the Holy Spirit takes up the other end of the burden with us and bears it to God. There He tells God the Father through Christ the Son just exactly what we need at this moment. He then intercedes with the Father on our behalf. They (Triune God) communicate on their level when we cannot communication with them on ours.

  • Grieve with them from afar or, if invited nearby.

It means a lot for people to know that you hurt for them and that you love not only them, but to the degree you can, love their baby too. Let them set the distance, but be open in your grief for their situation.

  • Give them space and latitude to ask any question; even to question God

This is natural and expected. By the way, God knows how we feel more than we know how we feel. He is gracious and merciful, full of compassion and able to bear with us in our doubts and frustrations.

My heart goes out to those who have lost a child through miscarriage or stillbirth. May we awaken to this ministry within our acquaintances, communities and churches.



No More Anger

by Tim Campbell
 
In my Scripture reading this morning, one of the chapters that I read was Isaiah 12. It is a beautiful chapter. But verse 1 really touched my soul.
You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.
Isaiah 12:1 (ESV)

 

I thought of my childhood. I remembered that awful, overpowering feeling of shame when I angered my parents by doing something they specifically told me not to do. The angst gnawed at my soul until I confessed to them and faced the consequences of my actions. But I also remember the overwhelming sense of relief and peace when I confessed and entered the good graces of my parents though my reception of their forgiveness. I could once again face them knowing all was well. I didn’t have to avoid my dad or sheepishly dwell in the background in evasion of my mother. To know that all was forgiven and I had peace with them once more was a powerful and serene state of soul.
 
Isaiah, amid tumultuous prophecies, also foresaw a time when God’s anger would be turned away from those who had disobeyed and offended Him by sinning. He prophesied that in that day, there would be a way that men could be right with God and be rid of the terrible emotions of the reality of being, not only separated from God, but subject to HIs wrath. In that day, those with whom God had been angry because of their waywardness, would now be overwhelmed with thankfulness and comfort from the Lord through full and free forgiveness.

 

We now live in the day that kind of peace and harmony is possible with God. Because Jesus Christ bore our sins on the cross, no matter what any of us have done, if we will repent of our sins and radically trust the payment that Jesus made for our sins on the cross, God will become our comforting Father. We will no longer be at odds with Him and no longer be under His righteous wrath for sin. We will be able to have that relationship of peace and contentment with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for which we have always longed.

 

It is a deep emotion and feeling of the soul to be in right relationship with God. It is like enjoying peace with our parents after the forgiveness of our disobedience; like a restored relationship with a friend with whom we have had words. it warms God’s heart when we come to Him as a child who just wants to be right with his Father.

 

But it’s not just a feeling. It is a state of reality that only comes when we are serious about being right with the Lord. It is the life of one who wants to forsake sin and trust Jesus for today and all of the tomorrows. It brings about a spiritual status of peace and joy that is far beyond any earthly relationship. He Who was once angry with me for my sins has now turned away His anger and embraced me in love … because of what Jesus did on the cross. How thankful I am and what a comfort.



Am I Really A Christian (Part 2)

No Scales in Heaven

In the last blog, I talked about the misconceptions about judging. I pointed out that the prohibition against judgment in the Bible was talking hypocritical judgement. I hope you also discovered that, in certain circumstances, it is not only appropriate to make judgments, but commanded. I covered these things to lay a firm, Scriptural foundation for true Christianity.

Sin is not a popular word. It never has been. In recent years, sin and surrounding issues has been put on the backburner. Some churches have even adopted the policy of not talking about it. Yet, if sin does not exist, why is there a need for salvation. The truth is that sin is the heart of the problem and is the reason that people have been separated from God. That is what Christians mean when they say that we are “lost.” We are lost (no official relationship with God) because of sin.

The words used for

sin in Scripture means “to miss, or to fail to hit the mark,” and thus “to err from a rule or law.” One man correctly defined sin as “lack of conformity to the moral law of God, either in act, disposition or state.”


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Am I Really A Christian?

 

I am a fan of social media (Facebook). I enjoy, for the most part, catching up with friends and learning what is going on in their lives. However, some posts concern me. I am not talking about political posts or even posts about social issues, but posts from people about their relationship with Jesus Christ (real or perceived).

Let me preface what I am about to say by heading off the inevitable criticism of being judgmental. We all know the adage based on Scripture: “Don’t judge!” Does that mean that no one can judge another person? Is that what the Bible is really saying? Let’s examine the issue.

The word that is translated “judge” in the Bible comes from several different words in the Old and New Testament. But there is a common, root meaning to each one of those words. It is the act of passing judgment on actions. I would say that true judgement is an opinion based on truth observed.


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In Praise of Dignity

I have always had the belief that there exists a link between theology and dignity. Now for an old country boy to even entertain such a thought is almost in itself proof that the link does indeed exist. While the culture in which I was reared did not reach the highest levels of classical social refinement, it did accommodate those things which were respectable and dignified.

Today, I think that we would all agree that etiquette and things that relate to dignity and civility are dying a slow and painful death. However, I do not think that most people see the far reaching implications of letting these knights of the good and proper perish. Their death can be married to a whole host of modern day atrocities. So what do loose shirttails and crude behavior have to do with school shootings, postmodern moods and spiritual apathy? Much!


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