Monday, May 21, 2018

Empty Womb - Empty Tomb

Some of you know that my wife and I were expecting our second child. We were about six weeks along.

Last Friday, our child was lost in a miscarriage.

There had been spotting, but with our last birth there had been spotting. There had been pains, but that doesn't automatically mean anything bad. Then my wife woke up Friday morning, with a bloodied pad and a blood clot. We went to the OB-GYN, and they did some tests. In the end, they confirmed our worse fears - the thing which I was hoping and praying wasn't true, all along the way, even up until the moment when the doctor walked into the room with the test results and a sad tone in his voice... they confirmed that our child was gone.

The worst part for me was that there wasn't even a meeting. There wasn't a visible connection. There was no "cute little peanut" with a heartbeat like I experienced with our daughter. There was no stillborn body to hold in my hands. There had been seen a developing sack in the womb at a previous ultrasound when my wife had gallbladder issues two weeks ago... but I hadn't been present, and now... now, as I watched the nurse use the ultrasound on Mary this afternoon, I saw nothing but an empty womb.

That was it. A pregnancy test, and some blood. Not even a shape to see, or a gender to attach a name to. Nothing but an empty womb. That was my fatherhood in this relationship.

The grief for all of us was been overwhelming. Both my wife and I have cried sporadically throughout the day. Even our poor three-year old daughter, who initially took it well when we explained it to her that the baby had "passed away" in mommy's womb, and what "passing away" meant, suddenly began to cry at bedtime and told us, "I miss the baby." On my end, I found myself thinking so little of my role as a father. Everyone talks about how their daddy is Superman, and my daughter's been telling others I'm her hero. At that moment, I saw myself as no hero. I'm no Superman - Superman actually saves people. I couldn't save my own child. I couldn't help my wife. I couldn't make a miracle. All I could do was make a few phone calls to close family members.

There is grief in my life, but even with the grief, I have hope. I have hope because I know whether life ends inside the womb or outside, this is not the end. There is a holy and just God, and what's more I know that He keeps His covenant promises with His people. There is a promise of a world to come, a world made right, and of a glorious resurrection, all centered around Christ's redemptive work on the cross, and this promise is said towards believers to be "for you and your children" (Acts 2:39). This is the promise of a God who took on flesh and Himself experienced death on the cross, before rising again as the firstfruits of the resurrection. The same God who said "I am the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25) likewise said of little children "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matt 19:14).

We've shared this truth with my daughter: that God not only watches over His sheep in their passing, but that someday, all will be meeting again, with new bodies and even greater faith. My wife and I even agreed on a name for the child: Charlie, a name that could work for a boy or girl (yes, I've known a few girls named Charlie), since we never discovered the gender. I wanted to name our child, because I want to know what to call them when we meet again on the day of resurrection, when God's flock are called together, and father and child can be reunited. As much as I've wept over the shock and grief that this has given, I also know that God is sovereign, and that whatever happens, it is not the end, but we look forward to a greater hope, with the knowledge that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Rom 8:18).

What's more, I know that no matter what may occur, my sins are covered, and I stand right before God. "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). I cannot turn away from my Lord and King even at this hour of need, for how often could He have turned away from me, when I proved a fickle and stupid lamb? How much has He shown love for me even when I at times spat at Him through my words and deeds? It is therefore that I can sing with Horatio Spafford, who wrote these words as his boat floated over the spot where all four of his daughters drowned: "My sin oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! / My sin, not in part, but the whole / Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more / Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!"

It is this same kind, glorious King that I know I will someday worship together with my lost child, along with the saints. Therefore, as much as I grieve over the sight of the empty womb, I rest in the assurance given by the empty tomb.