In December 2002, I had an early miscarriage. It was a very traumatic and emotional experience for my husband and me. We had been married for almost 3 ½ years and were ready to expand our family. At the time we were working at a church, and my husband was the Children’s Pastor. I was proud of the work we were doing for God. I prayed for a miracle, and when we lost the baby I just couldn’t understand why God would say No to my prayers and take this child away from us. Sometimes I was mad at God. And sometimes I was mad at myself for whatever I had done to deserve what I saw as a punishment. I never could reconcile my feelings, and I sank into a deep depression. I did not see God as trustworthy anymore, and the Bible verses that had once brought me comfort and direction now just sounded like a lot of noise. I was left to “go through the motions” of my Christian faith while slowly dying inside.
Just a few months later I was pregnant again. There were mild complications right from the start, so naturally I was filled with fear. I was so afraid that I would miscarry again, especially since I knew that I was not close to God. I honestly felt like I deserved to be punished again, but I still managed to find a tiny sliver of hope deep down in my heart – perhaps God was merciful; perhaps He could somehow find it in His heart to let me carry and deliver this baby safely. But of course, I had no reason to truly believe that. Any spiritual foundation I had before my miscarriage had crumbled. And at this point I felt that I had fallen out of His good graces forever. Because of this, I was overwhelmed with anxiety and even terror.
We were plunged into the uncertain world of the NICU, and with a very traumatic birth experience. As the placenta pulled away from the wall of my uterus, my water also broke. My body began to go into shock because I was losing so much blood. I came very close to passing out, and the EMTs had to do a lot of maneuvering in order to get me safely onto the gurney from our bathroom floor. I couldn’t bring myself to speak during the torturous 45-minute drive to the hospital, while the paramedics tried desperately to find my baby’s heartbeat. It wasn’t until we had arrived at the hospital and they had cut off my t-shirt that I heard the familiar woosh-woosh of my baby’s heartbeat on the monitors. I was comforted by relief for a little while, but returned to my old friend fear again when the contractions started coming regularly, despite the doctor’s efforts to keep the delivery at bay. Everything about me was completely numb. The doctor performed a C-section, and it took all the strength I had in me to stay conscious during the delivery. I felt like I might die.
Eli was born not long after 4 a.m., and I barely saw the nurses remove him from the room out of the corner of my eye. After what seemed like days, they finally wheeled my bed into the NICU, where I saw my son for the first time. I was not allowed to hold him yet. I remember thinking his head was about the size of a tennis ball. We quickly decided on a name, and then God gave me a very special gift. Right after I said, “I love you Eli,” he opened his eyes for the very first time. Somehow I knew right then and there that Eli was going to be okay.
Despite my anger, deep down I still knew that God had the answer. He was God, after all. But did He want to help me? Did I deserve to be helped, to be healed? After having my prayers bounce off the ceiling for months, one day it occurred to me that maybe I was asking God the wrong questions. I began to ask Him, “Who can help me?” I knew that what I needed was to talk to someone in the flesh, since I couldn’t seem to hear God’s voice. Almost immediately a friend came to mind. She knew so many people; perhaps she knew someone who could help me and counsel me. Remarkably, she did know some counselors, and they turned out to be exactly the right people I needed to see.
The most profound and healing truth I learned in counseling seems so simple to me now. But because of the deep wounds I had in my heart, it took a long time for me to accept this truth. After a lot of talking, I finally slowed down long enough to hear from God. I examined myself. I asked for forgiveness for wrongs I had done, and faith I had lacked. I took the time to sit still and listen to God. And I finally heard His still, small voice say the things I had been longing to hear… it was as if the God of the universe said to me: “I love you, Jessica. I have never left your side. Remember this hard time? Remember that struggle? Look, I was right there with you. Because I love you. And I proved that love for you when I sent my Son Jesus Christ to live a perfect life on earth, and die on the cross to take the punishment for your wrongs. You have said that you believe in Jesus, and that He rose from the dead and made Heaven possible for you. You have said that you want to have a relationship with me through Christ. Now live like it! Being close to Me is not doing religious works or good deeds. Being close to Me does not require you to be perfect. Being close to Me is this – sitting quietly with Me, listening to Me, and sharing your hurts and struggles with Me. I am here, and I always have been. I love you.”
If you want to know more about receiving God’s gift of grace through Jesus Christ, you are welcome to contact us. Or if you’re not ready to talk yet, maybe you will consider finding a Bible and reading from the book of John or Romans. Whoever reads this post, we want you to know that we care about you and we are praying for you.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)