You Are Not Alone, Part One
Here are the staggering, breath-taking, heart-wrenching statistics of miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death:
- There are about 4.4 million confirmed pregnancies in the U.S. every year.
- 900,000 to 1 million of those end in pregnancy losses EVERY year.
- More than 500,000 pregnancies each year end in miscarriage (occurring during the first 20 weeks).
- Approximately 26,000 end in stillbirth (considered stillbirth after 20 weeks)
- Approximately 19,000 end in infant death during the first month.
- Approximately 39,000 end in infant death during the first year.
- Approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage; some estimates are as high as 1 in 3. If you include loss that occurs before a positive pregnancy test, some estimate that 40% of all conceptions result in loss.
- Approximately 75% of all miscarriages occur in the first trimester.
- An estimated 80% of all miscarriages are single miscarriages. The vast majority of women suffering one miscarriage can expect to have a normal pregnancy next time.
- An estimated 19% of the adult population has experienced the death of a child (this includes miscarriages through adult-aged children).
(Statistics taken from www.hopeexchange.com)
And YET, and yet, we feel like we are all alone. How can this be? If there are truly 500,000 miscarriages just in the U.S. alone EACH year, this adds up to millions, and more likely billions of babies lost in human history. The sheer number alone is overwhelming and should help us to feel like we are NOT alone in this. But why do we feel so alone in our suffering? Here is why I think we feel so alone:
- Miscarriage is an intensely personal event.
- We feel we are the only one who knows our baby.
- Our husbands, family and friends grieve differently than we do, or may not grieve at all.
- Miscarriage as a subject for discussion is taboo.
Let's take a look at these reasons through the light of scripture and a Christian worldview and see how these hold up. While I believe these are all valid feelings, I believe they are just that: feelings. Sometimes our feelings need a radical realignment with what scripture lays out for us. God's word truly can transform our mind, and conform it to the mind of Christ (Romans 12:2). If God's word tells us something different than our feelings are telling us, then it's time for a change of heart and change of mind, so we can move past our feelings of despair.
Miscarriage is an intensely personal event. While miscarriage does deal with the most intimate part of our bodies (our womb), even more than that, our entire identity as a woman is wrapped up in the fact that we can bear children. I remember thinking after the loss of my first baby, "Is there something wrong with my body? Will I ever be able to carry a baby to full term?" I felt let down as a woman. I could not do the one thing that I felt (at that moment) was the reason for which women were created: to bear children. I soon realized that these feelings were all of me, me, me and none of God! These thoughts place the emphasis on me and my creative work. But, in reality, who is the one responsible for this creation of life? Is it truly me? Or is it God? I think down deep in our hearts, you and I know it is God who is the one who gives life and the one who takes away.
Yes, our bodies are obviously the means by which He brings about this creative work of His, but ultimately it is all under His control and His authority. It is thoughts such as these that bring guilt-ridden thoughts upon ourselves, because we might think we could have done something else or abstained from doing something to have saved the baby's life. These are harmful thoughts at best. We must refute these selfish, self-exalting thoughts and replace them with the truth that God is sovereign over the life of our baby and that He alone gave the life, and He alone chose to take that life home to be with Him. If I am exalting myself to His rightful place as the sustainer of life, then I am engaged in nothing less than idolatry. We are not alone in this, God is intimately involved!!
These verses literally tell us that He is there in the darkness of our womb. The darkness is not dark to Him, it shines as bright as the day. He is more "there" than we are even as the mother of our baby. In fact, He is so intimately involved that we can find hope, rest and a sense of peace, for if He is sovereign over creating the life, then He is sovereign in taking the life. His plan for our baby on earth has been fully fulfilled . Our baby is with the Lord worshipping Him, and was created for that specific purpose. So, even though miscarriage can seem to be such a personal event, and we get wrapped up in feeling like a failure as a woman, we can know from scripture that we are not alone. The Lord is with us through it all: the pain, the tears, the darkness, the hurt. There is no place so intimate, so personal, so painful, that His Spirit cannot be present. And He is present...we must only open our eyes to this truth.
We will examine this further in more posts to follow (don't want to make it too long!) Please check back soon!