According to the American Pregnancy Association, the chances of having a miscarriage for women in their childbearing years is 15 – 20 percent and women who are 35 – 45 have a 20 – 35 percent chance of miscarriage. Before I had a miscarriage I assumed it was rare for a woman to miscarry. We hear a lot about family planning. From my view, it seemed that couples just decided when they wanted to have a child, and they got pregnant soon after.
Like many women who personally understand the aforementioned statistics, my experience was very different. I kept saying to myself, “I never knew it would be this hard.” I felt like I was surrounded by women who were pregnant — in the grocery store, at work, at the gym, in my Bible study group. I mustered up the courage to attend baby showers and focus my heart on genuine happiness for the new mother, but more than once I had to leave early to avoid crying during these gleeful gatherings. I knew God wanted me to be joyful for the blessings he was bestowing on my friends and colleagues. At the same time, it was so hard to keep despair and the fear of never having a child at bay.
Turning to the scriptures
I decided to open the concordance in my Bible and look up all the verses under the topic of trials. As I read each one, I wrote it down to really take it in and meditate on it. 1 Peter 4:12-13 stood out to me. It says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed”
I was humbled. Why am I surprised that I am struggling, that I’m facing a fiery trial? The Bible never promises that we won’t face trials or that we will get everything we want when we want it. Deutoronomy 31:6 reminds us to be strong and courageous in our trials, reminding us that God will never leave us or forsake us.
Another verse that stirred my heart was James 1:2-4, which says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Consider a miscarriage…multiple miscarriages joy, God? How? I sat with God and asked, knocked, listened…and tried to obey.
Trying to have faith
I committed myself to focusing on God’s current blessings in my life and Hebrews 11:1, which says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.”
“What does faith really mean in the midst of a seemingly insurmountable trial?” I wondered to myself. Can I still have faith, be joyful and live a life that honors God even if I’m never able to birth a baby? I knew that God is both faithful and good, and I wanted to believe he would give me the desires of my heart. At times, though, I wrestled with God and shared my deepest fears, anger and disappointments. There was a particular season of about a week in which my heart had become hardened toward God. I felt abandoned.
During this time, it took all of my strength to put one foot in front of the other; I continued to listen to Christian music and attend my women’s Bible study, hoping for something to speak to the rock inside my chest and the hole in my soul. While I didn’t get my prayer met in that season, I felt the Holy Spirit pursuing me, comforting me, abiding with me and reminding me of his love. Even when I tried to turn my heart from him, I could feel him gentling soothing my soul. In my authenticity and openness with God, he showed me his character and refined my faith and relationship with him. As Zephaniah 3:17 promises, your Lord your God…will quiet you with his love.
A glimmer of hope
After three miscarriages and 20 months of trying to conceive, I went to the doctor because my very precise cycle was out of sync. At the age of 41, I feared that I may be going through early menopause, which runs in my family. As I weepingly shared with the nurse that my cycle was off, she suggested a blood test to explore the cause. Later that day, she called exclaiming that the blood test showed I was pregnant.
I had been seeing a reproductive endocrinologist who had just checked my likelihood of pregnancy two days prior to ovulation, and my uterine lining looked as if it was the end of my cycle – it was very thin – and there were few very tiny follicles that seemingly would have no chance of maturing enough before ovulation to have any potential at all for pregnancy. The nurse shared…again… that I needed to try again next month. I was called in to do an ultrasound five days later because the doctor couldn’t believe it was possible that I was pregnant. She confirmed the pregnancy and noted that I ovulated on my right side — though my right fallopian tube was closed. She was incredulous, and I just pointed my teary eyes to heaven and thanked my faithful Father, who never left me as he guided me out of the wilderness.
Expect a miracle
At the cross, it seemed that death had won, but Jesus rose from the dead and fulfilled his promise to give us life and life abundant. When Lazarus lay dead for three days, sadness and despair permeated his loved ones’ hearts, but Jesus raised him from the dead and showed his power and character.
Believe and expect miracles. They may come in a birth of a biological baby or through the birth of a new family through adoption or foster care. God WILL give you the desires of your heart. We just need to remember, that it is our heart he is pursuing first. He knows the big picture much better than we do and is working for our good. Can we stop and rest in knowing this truth alone?
As you walk through the wilderness of miscarriage or infertility, know that God sees every tear you cry and knows every desire of your heart. He is crafting a beautiful path for your life and is molding you into the woman he has created you to be.
Miscarriage and infertility are more common than many of us realize. As women let go of the shame and despair of this wilderness journey, invite God and others to share it with you. With 15 – 35 percent of pregnancies ending in miscarriage and many couples experiencing the challenges of infertility, the church can be a place of support and healing.
Terry Morrow Nelson, Ph.D. is the president of Morrow and Associates Partnership for Leadership and Transformation. She is an assistant dean and assistant professor at Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Morrow Nelson is the mother of a 13 month old girl named Emily. She can be reached at [email protected].