In our late twenties, my wife Teana endured three traumatizing miscarriages. I use the word ‘traumatizing’ for many reasons, the first of which is that it seemed contrary to our understanding of God, his promises and the normal expectations of any couple awaiting the birth of a child. She miscarried, not once, not twice but three times. We were not ungrateful for our living daughters. If anything, we were exceedingly thankful. But between our second daughter and our only son, Teana endured the same heartbreak as Hannah did, in the Old Testament, as she poured her heart out to God for a baby boy. She lived and then lost each child in ‘deep distress, praying and weeping bitterly’ (2 Samuel 1:1-11). On one occasion, I remember pushing her in a wheelchair from the doctor’s office to the labor and delivery ward of the hospital; a destination that only increased our awareness of her loss. And on the way, she did her best to cover the unstoppable, gradually encroaching onslaught of red on her dress; uncontestable evidence of another heartbreaking loss.
We did our best, on each occasion, to speak to each other as transparently as words might allow. But I could never imagine the depth of Teana’s sorrow and her ever-increasing feelings of hopelessness. Time has moderated the loss, since then, but not eradicated it. And yet, a husband’s feelings of helplessness are exponentially increased by his inability to cauterize the bleeding heart of his wife. Consequently, I can understand why the loss of a child might drive a wedge between a husband and wife. Every new dawn rehearses the pain when it is multiplied by two forlorn faces staring at each other.
Everyone in our family and circle of friends knew what happened each time. I don’t remember seeking counsel, but I do remember that none was offered. Surely some other woman in our church had suffered a similar loss. Surely some man undoubtedly knew what I was enduring. There must be more to offer than a public pat on the back and a few mumbled words uttered moments before a Sunday service begins. But no one can be faulted. We didn’t ask, and they didn’t offer. Those who loved us were stumbling in the dark along with us. Consequently, I can understand why the loss of a child might drive a wedge between a couple and their church body. Each Sunday morning walk-by-the-nursery reminds them that no infant is waiting for their arrival.
It is too much for anyone to bear, too much for God to expect a couple to endure.
And yet, a richly-colored tapestry of God’s love and care is skillfully and elegantly portrayed on various leaves of the Bible. If only we had a guide. We certainly needed one. Our friends and family also needed counsel. That need is the genesis of HELP! My Baby Died.
Many years after experiencing our sorrow, a providential meeting with a friend, who also represented a publisher, resulted in its writing. In it, Teana was kind enough to share her feelings and help me recall memories intentionally forgotten. In it, the Scripture is opened as a balm for broken hearts. In it, help is given for couples who experience the loss as well as friends and families who want to incarnate Jesus’s love in that crisis.
We know and believe that God is sovereign. We know and believe He loves us with a love from which nothing can separate us. We know and believe that He is working all things out for our good. We know that he has a plan that will eventually be seen as glorious. We know and believe all of that. But sometimes, our voices are so hoarse from crying that we can’t preach the gospel to ourselves. We can’t cry for help. And sometimes our hearts are so broken that they don’t seem mendable. Ever. And that is the providential blessing of books; ever-present friends, always available and willing to be opened and poured out, word-by-word, thought-by-thought, page-by-page, into broken, needy hearts. Like divinely-cut cardboard pieces, Christian books are providentially shaped to gently touch against our timid, fearful, hurting edges, fitted precisely to our need and completing the puzzle which eventually becomes the amazingly, beautiful picture that God is painting.
[Today’s guest post is written by Reggie Weems, author of HELP! My Baby Died.]