The Answers

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This article is to be read in conjunction with “Come on Home“, as this will serve to point in greater detail to some of the many scriptures I referenced in that article, that I have discovered through my journey from grief to healing.

I will organize this article in a question and answer format, in a series of 10 questions, based on those that I have asked, and that I know many other bereaved parents ask in their search for answers and healing.  These answers actually build on one another, so even though this is a lengthy article, it is important that you read it in its entirety  (I couldn’t have found these answers without devoting some significant time to reading my Bible, but other resources that proved useful were group Bible studies, particularly Beth Moore’s, and Zola Levitt study materials.)

“Does God have His hand on conception, every conception, or is it just a fluke chance?”

To say that God has His hand on the conception of miscarried or stillborn babies would suggest that God would also have His hand on the conception of babies who would later die to elective abortion, babies conceived out of wedlock, or babies otherwise conceived outside of biblical righteousness.  This can seem extremely disturbing and controversial to parents who accept that children are a blessing and who pray, hope, and long for them, as they wonder why God would bless those parents with children who don’t intend to love and/or keep them.  This can also lead to the incorrect assumption that because children are a blessing, God is pleased with these acts of unrighteousness.  This is not the case, as I will explain in a different question later in this article. Yet, scripture reveals on more than one occasion that God, indeed, has His hand on conception, and that God even has a plan for children prior to conception.  This would obviously need to be a blanket statement in order to be biblically accurate.  Therefore, we can rightly say that God has His hand on every conception, and that none are a fluke chance.  (Genesis 1:27, Job 10:10, Jeremiah 1:5, Judges 13:6-7, Matthew 18:10, Isaiah 49:1)

“If my baby wasn’t going to survive, why did God even bother blessing me with this pregnancy to begin with?  Why did He change His mind?”

Yes, it was indeed a blessing to be pregnant to begin with.  And, no, God did not change His mind (Psalm 66:7, Amos 3:6, Isaiah 45:7).  Children are a heritage; this means that your children are reserved for you, from the Lord (Psalm 127:3).  Life doesn’t begin at 40 weeks gestation, but begins at conception, as this time is integral to God’s kingdom and fulfills His purposes.  This means that even your miscarried or stillborn baby was intentionally and supernaturally selected by God to be your child.  He or she was reserved just for you, and there is purpose in this selection (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Colossians 1:16-17).

The reason it is natural for us bereaved parents to ask this question is from the assumption that our children are guaranteed a certain amount of time here on earth.   In truth, the only thing guaranteed in this life is tribulation (John 16:33, KJV).  But it is through our pain that we come to trust God, His plan, His very real hope, and His perfect will even more (Hebrews 2:9-10, Hebrews 13:5, 1 Peter 2:21; 3:18; 4:1).

“Does God really have control over what happens in the womb?”

Yes, He has ultimate control over what happens in the womb.  Some grieving families hold to the notion that loss has no meaning, that it is totally random and mysterious.  Even Christians seem to draw from the message of Matthew 5:45, that it “rains on the righteous and unrighteous” alike.  Platitudes given by loved ones that mirror this sentiment include “We’ll never know why this happened” ,”These things just happen” and “Lots of people miscarry; it doesn’t mean anything”.  This sentiment suggests that God has no compassion, that God has no control, and that our lives (even in utero) have little purpose than chance.  Scripture tells us otherwise (Genesis 4:1, Job 31:15, Psalm 22:10, Isaiah 44:2, Isaiah 44:24).   God knits babies together in their mother’s wombs (Psalm 139:13).  This knitting is an intimate, intentional, consuming act.  It takes both hands, and causes the knitter to be close to his work.  Yes, pregnancy loss happens to believers and unbelievers alike.  This does not discredit the value of the person whose life on earth didn’t continue beyond their life in the womb.  God loves each of us, believers or not, and seeks to grow each of us closer to Him.  This pregnancy loss is key to that growth, regardless of where you are in your faith, as I will show you through the remainder of the questions in this article.  God uses many of the same things to bring both believers and unbelievers closer to Him: pregnancy loss, the death of a spouse, job loss, total destruction of our home and belongings…but ultimately, God uses one thing, the single event to bring each of us closer to Him, and that is the untimely death of His own Son, Jesus Christ (James 4:7-8, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

“Is infant death, is in-utero death, out of God’s control?  Did Satan cause my baby to die?”

This might seem to suggest that because God knows beforehand that a child will die to elective abortion, for example, this death would be a part of His perfect will.  It is important to note that there is a striking difference between God’s perfect will, and God’s permissive will.  In God’s perfect will, there is only beauty, love, and life.  God’s perfect will is promised to be fulfilled several times in scripture.  In the meantime, we are given the freedom to partner in this culminating perfect will if we wish.  Our fallen world is based on our decisions not to partner with God, as we turn from Him to fulfill our own desires.  Therefore, within this fallen world, we are subject to God’s permissive will.  Because we are subject to God’s permissive will, we are also subject to a natural cause and effect of actions and consequences that take place here on earth.  All of this to say, that if a mother is contemplating elective abortion, God may not necessarily intervene and prevent the death of the infant.  Because the Bible tells us that life begins at conception, elective abortion is considered murder, which would obviously not be of God.  So, if God has ultimate control over life in the womb, why would he let an innocent child die by murder?  Does this prove that God, indeed, is limited in His powers, and that Satan can control aspects of life in the womb, namely, by encouraging a mother to allow her child to die through elective abortion?

Neither sin nor tragedy on earth reflect God’s weakness or inability to fulfill His perfect will.  Indeed, His perfect will has already been planned before creation, and has already conquered over our sins, the sins of others, and most importantly, His perfect will has already conquered Satan.  The manifestation of this truth, the fruit of Jesus’ labor on the cross, and the fruit of our own labor as we resemble Christ, is something we have to look forward to, in the day in which God sets all things right, once and for all (Ephesians 1:10, Matthew 28:18, Mark 13:32, Hebrews 2:15, Colossians 1:13, Philippians 1:6, Revelation 20:10).

God knew before the Fall in the Garden that He would bring Jesus into the world for the purpose of His untimely death (Ephesians 1:4), that He would offer more in the death of Jesus than ever in all of the miracles performed in His lifetime, to offer us the hope, reconciliation, and relationship with Him (Acts 2:23, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 5:8, John 3:16).  And, to answer a question near the end of this article, even though God knew what Jesus’ fate would be, and so did Jesus (Matthew 16:21-23), God wasn’t pleased that Jesus had to die (Matthew 27:46).  This was His permissive will, orchestrated through His plan, for the purpose of bringing us, all of us, closer to Him.

“The Bible says that babies are conceived and born into the world in iniquity (Psalm 51:5), so because my baby didn’t yet have a chance to accept Christ, does this mean that my baby went to Hell?  How can I trust that my baby is in Heaven?”

The Bible reveals to us that life in the womb has value to God’s kingdom.  In addition, the Bible mandates that we resemble God’s very character by taking care of widows and orphans as the Bible reveals that God Himself watches over children, hears the cries of children, and Jesus invokes others to have faith like children (1 John 4:7-8, 1 Peter 1:16, James 1:27, John 10:11, Genesis 21:17, Mark 10:15).

Psalm 27:10 tells us: Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.

Isaiah 49:15 (GWT): Can a woman forget her nursing child? Will she have no compassion on the child from her womb? Although mothers may forget, I will not forget you.

We can glean many aspects of hope and healing from the book of Job, the sufferer of scriptures.  One, is that Satan had to ask God permission to create suffering in the life of Job (Job 1:11), and while God is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), and omnipresent (all present), the first book of Job shows an obvious contradiction to each of these in Satan.

We learn two important pieces of information about Job in the first two verses of the first chapter.  Job was blameless in the sight of the Lord, and he had 10 children, seven sons and three daughters.

Another biblical example in Matthew 14:22, tells us that after a long day of performing miracles, “Jesus made the disciples get into the boat, while Jesus went to a mountaintop to pray by himself.”  In verses 24 and 25, we find out that the disciples spent the night battling a seastorm.  And rather than remember all of the many miracles that they witnessed being performed throughout the day, they didn’t have faith through the storm, as we see them cry out in fear when they see Jesus performing another miracle, in which He was demonstrating that through faith in Him, they can find peace through physical obstacles, even a violent storm (John 16:33).

Interestingly, what the disciples didn’t see for themselves, is that Jesus watched the storm, and was praying to God on their behalf (Matthew 14:23).  It is also important to realize, that just like Job, they suffered through the trial of the storm because they were exactly where God wanted them to be (Matthew 14:22).

Job also gives us insight into what happens to infants who die before being born, in chapter 3 of his book, from verses 11-19, where his prose give descriptions of dying before birth and entering a peaceful, heavenly place.

Something else to glean from the book of Job, is that in the end, after all of his suffering had ended, including losing all of his possessions, his health, and his children, because he remained faithful to just simply believing that God was in control, God restored Job.  He blessed Job with double the amount of all of the possessions taken from him (Job 42:10), but God restored to Job the exact amount of children taken from him during his time of tribulation (Job 42:13).  Why is this significant?  Because children lost to us are not lost to God.

Another example of God restoring a child to bereaved parents is Genesis 4:25:

Adam made love to his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth,saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.”

A few points make this verse significant.  One is that Cain was still alive, and although he was sentanced to wander the earth and be apart from his parents, as a living man, there was still hope that he would turn from sin and back to God.  Abel was killed, which means that he was already with God.  This doesn’t mean that Abel was replaced in the sense that he was forgotten by his parents, as it may seem from reading the verse.  It means instead that God counted him, and that his parents, who were faithful to serving the Lord, were restored with the child who would fulfill His plans through the family.  Was God’s plan for Abel thwarted because of Cain’s sin?  Or did God already know what sin was in Cain’s heart and devise a plan that would prove victorious after all?  Scriptures strongly suggest that Seth, even by his name, was intended by God to be the son who would carry the family lineage through to Noah (Psalm 11:3, “Seth” has same spelling as “foundation”, meaning “to appoint”).  Abel’s part in fulfilling God’s plan may just have simply been to bring Cain’s sin to light, for the purpose of receiving the opportunity of repentance and sanctification.

In addition, the Bible reveals to us that babies are made in the image of God, reflective of Him from conception, as I will outline in a later question.  It is when we are older, when we acquire the maturity and ability to make the conscious decision to turn away from God, that it is imperitive that we dedicate our lives to Christ and make the decision to commit to accepting and following Him.  Because of this truth, we can rest comfortably on, rather than be fearful of, the proclamation of Jesus in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  Noone comes to the Father except through me.”

“I am terrified to think that I may have caused my baby’s death, either by a lack of enthusiasm about the baby, or by physical choices I made that could have caused my baby harm.  How do I reconcile this guilt?”

Some grieving families hold to the notion that loss is a time of testing or training, a time that may only serve to bring us emotional torment and spiritual agony as we fear that this pregnancy, or our participation in it, may not have glorified God.  Tragedy often brings out what is already inside of ourselves as we find ways to react to it; therefore, if it is the memory of sin that is being brought to the surface, if it is shame or guilt that is being brought out, it can seem as though the punishment is final and that there is no hopeful resolution.  Within this community of grieving families, are those who believe that while this loss is a time of testing or training, it is not the result of any sins, but is a time to strengthen the character of the person (Hebrews 12:11).  This opens the possibility to a vicious cycle, in which these grieving parents may be constantly torn between accepting that this loss is designed to strengthen them, and returning to guilt over not being “strong enough” to begin with, to already have had the character God is working them toward, so that it wouldn’t have caused the death of their child.

For any of these thoughts, God gives us the free gift of asking for, and receiving total forgiveness from, His son, Jesus (Matthew 11:28, 1 Peter 1:18-19, Colossians 2:6).  The truth is, we are in a fallen world, therefore we are all subject to sin (our own, and the sins of others).  As such, we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), meaning that we aren’t perfect, and so God invites each of us to participate in the process of sanctification (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

“Times I’ve sinned sting my memory.  Is the death of my baby punishment for my sins, or for my spouse’s sins?”

Deuteronomy 5:9 tells us that “God punishes children for the sins of their parents”, and Exodus 20:5 tells us that God “punishes the children for the sins of the father, to the third and fourth generation”, and too many times, well-meaning loved ones reflect their totally inaccurate assumptions of the essence of these verses to grieving families with empty platitudes that actually suggest that the loss is the fault of the parents.  “Now you can focus on yourself again”, “Now you can focus on your other children,” Now you can focus on the problems in your marriage”, each of these place blame.  For a better interpretation of these scriptures, consider the comparison of Exodus 20:6, where God says that His capacity for love far outlasts the punishment He speaks of in verse 5, in which He is simply proclaiming the need for discipline, correction, and forgiveness.  The truth is, even if you can identify areas of improvement as you reflect on your pregnancy, God doesn’t allow for infant death for the purpose of your condemnation.  It is instead, an opportunity for your sanctification.

THE most viewed and reflected biblical account of infant death by bereaved parents is David and Bathsheba’s baby.  The plot begins with King David, extremely confident in an easy victory, sending his soldiers off to war, while he lazily stayed behind and rested.  Scriptures tell us that he pulled his curtains at sunset to see a beautiful woman, Bathsheba, “immersed in Mikveh”, which is a customary bathing after her menstrual flow.  Because her bath took place at sunset (2 Samuel 11:2), she may likely have been participating in what is known as hefsek taharah, in which seven days had passed since the beginning of her menstrual cycle (Leviticus 15:19), and she immersed in Mikveh, followed by a simple swiping test with a clean, white cloth to determine if there is any more blood appearing from her vaginal opening.  We learn from this account that Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah–that she is married.  After her bath, King David sent messengers to go and fetch her, and then the two of them had extramarital intercourse, which resulted in an unintended pregnancy.  I find it so incredible that these essential details to the story can be derived from a very simple sentance fragment, held within parentheses at the end of verse four of 2 Samuel 11.  Why is it so significant that we know she was taking her ritual bath following her seven days of “menstrual uncleanliness”?  I will answer that right now.

A woman’s monthly cycle lasts 28 days (with menstrual bleeding lasting approximately the 7 days mentioned above).  From the first day of menstrual bleeding in one month, to the first day of menstrual bleeding the following month, approximately 28 days pass.  A woman is not considered fertile all of those 28 days, but is considered the most fertile in the 3 to 5 days leading up to the 14th day of her cycle.  Therefore, if the first day of her menstrual cycle is considered day 1, she would be considered most fertile on days 12, 13 and 14 of her cycle, with dramatically lower fertility on days 10 and 11.  Conception taking place on any of the other days is considered to be of extremely low probability.  David and Bathsheba conceived on day 8.  She wasn’t even fertile (or, she could have had an irregular cycle, but we can trust that either way was supernaturally designed for the outcome).  Here is an example fertility calendar, with menstruation beginning on November 1.  Notice that day 8 isn’t shaded green (marking fertility) at all.

What became of this sinful union?  Bathsheba became pregnant, and to prevent himself from being exposed by his sinful actions, King David struggled through a number of failed foolish and arrogant attempts to hide the pregnancy from Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah.  In the end, King David frantically chose to cover his sins by orchestrating the death of his friend, the husband of the woman whom he slept with and conceived with.  Uriah died so that King David could cover his sins.  And, soon after, the baby boy was struck with an incurable illness as was prophesied by Nathan, and also died.

This is such a tragic, sinful story, and yet it is one that brings many bereaved parents guidance as they struggle through their grief.  Why?  Because we see how David grieved for his son.  Verses 16 through 20 of 2 Samuel 12 tell us that David openly grieved while his son suffered, but that once the child had died, he washed and went to the temple to worship God.  He understood that the child was freed from suffering, and He could then thank God for it.  This simple act of faith greatly encouraged those who witnessed it, as it has encouraged countless bereaved parents, even today, who reflect on this story and find the hope that their babies are truly no longer suffering, and that even if they, the parents, sinned at some point during the pregnancy, God offers real forgiveness, and we can find peace and joy in these truths. While the judgment was already set, and there was no undoing that the baby would die, David still confessed his sin to Nathan.  Nathan replied in verse 13, “The Lord has taken away your sin.”  In the end, King David went on to continue to serve the Lord faithfully.  We can glean from this account that the Lord supernaturally blessed this extramarital couple through conception, even outside of the normal range of possible fertility, so that the child would live, for the purposes of bringing out the sin in David’s heart, and then God supernaturally ended the baby’s life, for the purpose of bringing David to repentance, to bless him back onto the right path, and to bless the many witnesses of this account who, from it, also find their right path, even those of us today.  It was ultimately therefore not for condemnation that this baby died, but for sanctification.

If you can identify areas of improvement, whether they led to the death of your baby or not, it is so that you can embrace the opportunity to turn to seek God and receive His forgiveness (Psalm 78:34, John 3:17, Romans 8:1).

Furthermore, 2 Samuel 11:2-5 tells us that: One late afternoon, David got up from taking his nap and was strolling on the roof of the palace. From his vantage point on the roof he saw a woman bathing.  The story of Bathsheba unfolds.

Much later, you can see how reconciliation unfolds in a very paralleled circumstance, even after the rape of his daughter, when Shimei threw stones at King David in 2 Samuel 16, “Get out of here, you murderer, you scoundrel!” he shouted at David.  “The Lord is paying you back for all the bloodshed in Saul’s clan. You stole his throne, and now the Lord has given it to your son Absalom. At last you will taste some of your own medicine, for you are a murderer!”

Following this, Ahithophel tells Absalom, “Go and sleep with your father’s concubines, for he has left them here to look after the palace. Then all Israel will know that you have insulted your father beyond hope of reconciliation, and they will throw their support to you.” So they set up a tent on the palace roof where everyone could see it, and Absalom went in and had sex with his father’s concubines (2 Samuel 16: 21,22).

 

 

“Does life in the womb have value to God’s kingdom?”

Yes.  Life in the womb has value to God’s kingdom.

First, simply consider the value of a seed.  The Bible mentions seeds a great many times, doesn’t it?  When God spoke in Genesis 1:11, He said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth” and it was so.  And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.  God Himself referred to human offspring as seeds (Genesis 17:19).  This means that a fetus, an embryo, a blastocyst, whatever it may be called, is indeed a person, that God said is the seed after its own kind, that is designed to grow into nothing other than a human.  It is, therefore, a baby.

This also means that your baby will not transform into an angel in heaven.  Your baby is God’s child, and we, as His children, play a very different role in His kingdom than angels (Hebrews 1:13-14, Hebrews 12:22-23).

The Old Testament festivals were not only essential in protecting God’s chosen people from health concerns and the idolatry of neighboring countries, but each foreshadowed an important aspect of the life of Jesus Christ (and therefore the new life in Christ for each believer).  In reviewing these Old Testament festivals, each is also symbolic of an important aspect of the life of the growing baby in the womb.  These secondary interpretations do not replace the original, literal context of the Scriptures, but add to them and enrich our understanding of our God, and of the importance of life in the womb.  The correlation of these festivals reveal that conception, gestation, and birth are all reflective of our Lord Jesus Christ; we cannot “choose” to be made in His image, from conception, we simply already are.

Lamb Selection

On the tenth day of the first month (Nisan-typically April) of the Jewish calendar year (lunar calendar follows a 28-day cycle), the Israelites were instructed to select a perfect,
flawless, completely white lamb to sacrifice to God and to provide for their family (Exodus 12:3).

Foreshadow of Christ: He is our perfect sacrifice and complete provision.

New life: On the tenth day of the woman’s menstrual cycle (also following the lunar, 28 day cycle), she discharges a white, stretchy liquid from her cervix (which can be found when she wipes or a small amount in her panties); this marks her heightened fertility.

Passover

On the fourteenth day of the first month of the Jewish calendar year, the Israelites were instructed to sacrifice the lamb, and instructions were given to mark their door frames;
thus, the Spirit of God would pass over them and bless them with continued life.  The Passover is not an event marked by death; instead it is a celebration of life.   When the instructions were followed correctly and at the proper time, God blessed the family.

Foreshadow of Christ: As already stated, He is our perfect sacrifice and complete
provision.  His selfless sacrifice, at the right time, permitted each believer to be blessed with eternal life.

New life: On the fourteenth day of the woman’s cycle, an egg is released (this is adjusted for women with irregular cycles).  It has only within the following 24-hour period to be fertilized, or it will pass on as the woman’s next menstrual cycle.  It is within this 24-hour period alone that there is chance for new life.

*Unleavened Bread

According to Leviticus 23:6, the festival of Unleavened Bread must occur on the fifteenth day of the first month, or, within 24-hours of the Passover.  The Israelites were instructed to eat only unleavened bread (or the pure kernel without yeast—see John 12:24) as a sign of a Holy walk.

Foreshadow of Christ: We see from Scripture that Jesus was buried at the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, to later rise again, as all Christians shall.  Jesus died in only 6 hours, an unprecedented amount of time, so that each of the symbolic and prophetic festivals could be preserved.

New life: As mentioned earlier, the seed (sperm) needs to implant the egg within the important 24-hour period for new life to occur.

First Fruits

The purpose of the celebration of First Fruits is to acknowledge God’s blessing of fertility.  The Israelites were instructed to collect the very first young crops and present them to the Lord for an offering.  This festival takes place the immediate Sunday after Passover, occurring during the celebration of Unleavened Bread.  Today’s celebration is now called Easter, and as we celebrate with objects of fertility, it is intended to be a celebration of God’s faithfulness.

Foreshadow of Christ: Jesus was resurrected and received by God during First Fruits, as an offering to acknowledge His faithfulness and the hope and knowledge that more believers after Him will also be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:23). 

New life: After the fertilized egg travels down the fallopian tube and into the uterus, it implants into the lining of the rich uterine wall.  It is the hormonal changes prompted by this implanting that first signals change in the woman—the first sign of life, which can be identified by a blood test, and later, a urine test.

Purim

While Purim is not one of the Old Testament festivals ordained by God, it is one proclaimed by His people.  Similar to Hanukkah in this way, it doesn’t have the same exact fit in regard to the Gregorian calendar, yet it still has spiritual and physical implication in regard to its harmony with fetal development.  Purim is a celebration to honor the deliverance of the Jews in the time of Esther.  It is celebrated on either the 14th or 15th of the Jewish month of Adar, which is approximately in February or March.  It is known for God hiding Himself from His people.  Scholarly studies explain that when one hides his true identity and assumes another identity, his true self is revealed.  It is associated with giving birth to renew the ultimate self.  The word kuf also alludes to the “eye of a needle.”  Through this eye, God’s light enters to reveal its glory to the Jewish soul.

Foreshadow of Christ: Purim is noted for its celebration of reciprocity.  Through Jesus’ death and His gifts of Salvation and the Holy Spirit, we have an opportunity to engage in a reciprical relationship, a communion, with Him.

New Life: As the corpus luteum begins to diminish at approximately seven weeks after Passover, the baby’s placenta begins to supplement and by twelve weeks after conception fully takes over life sustaining hormone production.  The synthesis and secretion of steroid hormones by the placenta requires the collaboration of both fetal and maternal tissues.

 

*Pentecost

This celebration occurs on a Sunday, the fiftieth day after the celebration of First Fruits (Lev. 23:15-16).  Known as the Summer Harvest (usually in late May or early June), more crops are available then First Fruits, but still not as many as will be available at the coming Fall Harvest.

Foreshadow of Christ: Acts 2 records the day of Pentecost, which marks the first day of the Church of Jesus Christ (essential point of Premillenial Dispensationalism), where a harvest was brought in, of over three thousand souls.

New life: High school science texts often show a similar in-utero development of humans to other species, attempting to prove evolution-like theories.  What they all fail to emphasize, however, is that on exactly the fiftieth day of development from the day of implantation, the growing embryo is  considered a new creature; this new creature is identified as a human (fetus), and as science and scripture both tell us, set apart from all other life forms.

Trumpets

On the first day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar year (Tishrei-usually September), the Israelites were instructed to have a Holy ceremony involving the blowing of horns (Lev. 23:24).  Immediately upon hearing the trumpets sound, the faithful workers from the surrounding fields would drop their work and come into the temple for worship; the unbelievers stayed and continued to work without them (Matthew 24:40).

Foreshadow of Christ: Representative of the Church age, and the coming Rapture (1 Thess. 4:16-17).

New life: While all major development has already occurred prior to and leading up to Pentecost (the unmistakable identification of a human), on the first day of the seventh month, the baby can now discriminate differing noises, and respond to them accordingly.

Atonement

On the tenth day of the seventh month (again, Tishrei), the High Priest enters the Holy of Holies to make a sacrifice for the sins of himself and all the Israelites.

Foreshadow of Christ: Jesus is to the believing Church the ultimate and complete atoning
sacrifice, and at His Second Coming, He will atone for surviving Israel (Zech. 13:8) as well (Romans 11:26; there is a future for Israel).

New life: On the tenth day of the seventh month, hemoglobin in fetal blood changes to work with the oxygen it will be receiving at birth (to be self-respirating).  Hemoglobin F changes to Hemoglobin A.

*Tabernacles

On the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Ethanon, seventh full moon of the Jewish year—falls between late September and early November), the Israelites were to celebrate God’s provision of shelter in the wilderness (Lev. 23: 42-43).

Foreshadow of Christ: Kingdom, the last of the festivals; Jesus’ great Tabernacle in Jerusalem during the Kingdom Age.  (Zech. 14:16-19) (Ezekiel 37:26-27).

New life: Tabernacle is the house of the spirit, and the lungs the house of the air.  (Genesis 2:7, Ezekiel 37:9).  The baby and the believer are both fully equipped to sustain life.

*Pilgrim Festivals: Israelite males present themselves to Yahweh three times a year.  During this time, their communities are left vulnerable, without male protection, but with the protection of God.  The entire family has a responsibility to participate and to surrender in faith.  These correlate with the beginning, the middle and the end of pregnancy.

Hanukkah

This Festival of Lights is celebrated 280 days after Passover.  It is not one of the instructed festivals given on Mt. Sinai but prophesied by Daniel (Daniel 8:9-14) and represents eternal light.  At the rededication of the Holy Temple following the victory over the Maccabees, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the Eternal Flame in the Temple for one day; however, the oil burned for eight days, the length of time it took to prepare and consecrate additional fresh olive oil.

Foreshadow of Christ: This festival is representative of eternal life, which is a direct metaphor of Jesus Christ.

New life: 280 days equals one complete pregnancy; the physical demonstration of childbirth resembles the spiritual truth that we each have eternal life with God through Jesus.

Purim

Purim is celebrated in the last month of the Jewish calendar year.  It is known for God hiding Himself from His people.  Scholarly studies explain that when one hides his true identity and assumes another identity, his true self is revealed.  It is associated with giving birth to renew the ultimate self.  The word kuf also alludes to the “eye of a needle.”  Through this eye, God’s light enters to reveal its glory to the Jewish soul.

Foreshadow of Christ: Purim is noted for its celebration of reciprocity.  Through Jesus’ death and His gifts of Salvation and the Holy Spirit, we have an opportunity to engage in a reciprical relationship, a communion, with Him.

New Life: The reciprical nature of death on earth and birth in eternity.

“Do I have a responsibility to somehow participate in fulfilling God’s ultimate plan of growing closer to Him through this loss, or is my only place simply to mourn?  If God’s ways are mysterious, is a bigger purpose to this experience outside of my reach and beyond my ability to obtain?”

Yes, you have a responsibility to somehow participate in fulfilling God’s plan through this loss.  God’s ways are often mysterious, however, a bigger purpose to this experience is not outside of your reach.

Consider Hagar.  Abraham was told by God many times that he would bear a son, that he  would be the father of a great nation.  The first of these promises is found in Genesis 12.  Rather than being patient and faithful to God’s promise, Sarah (Sarai) was impatient and frustrated and so told her husband to sleep with their servant, Hagar.  God blessed Hagar with a child, even though this child was not to fulfill the promise He spoke of to Abraham (Abram).  Hagar became pregnant, and Sarah (Sarai), riddled with jealousy and resentment, sent her away.  The angel of the Lord came to Hagar as she was alone in the wilderness.  He called her by name and told her that she was pregnant, and instructed her in what to do; she obeyed Him.  Genesis 16:13-14 tell us:

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

Even Hagar, who conceived out of wedlock, was seen and understood by God during pregnancy, and even though her situation was dire, one that continues to cause conflict even today, the Lord blessed her and her preborn baby.

Consider Sarah, wife of Abraham.  In Genesis 18:10, God told Abraham that by the same time the year following their conversation, Sarah would bear a son.  By being this specific about His promise, He only allotted a maximum of three monthly cycles -three chances- to pass before blessing Sarah through conception.  Genesis 21:2, Sarah indeed bears the son who was promised by God, Isaac, and by the promised time, despite her faithlessness in God’s promise by having her husband conceive a child with their servant, Hagar.

Consider Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah.  She and Zechariah both were very old, and childless.  One day, Zechariah went into the Temple to burn incense and pray.  It is suggested in scripture that he was praying for his old, infertile wife, for her to bear a child.  An angel of the Lord appeared and said “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John” (Luke 1:13).   In fact, husbands throughout scripture have prayed over their wives and their children, indicating that it is important not just for mothers, but for fathers to take on an active spiritual role in the lives of their children, even those not yet conceived (Genesis 20:17, Genesis 25:21, Luke 1:9).

Zechariah doubted the angel, and so the promise was again confirmed, but to show Zechariah the importance of taking God at His word, Zechariah’s ability to speak was taken away from him.  The people all marvelled when he left the temple, unable to speak.  They knew that he had seen a vision.  This tells us that the people had faith to believe in the importance and magnitude of the event, which seems contrary to Zechariah’s reaction.  Why did he doubt in the miracle God could perform?

When Elizabeth became pregnant, she remained in seclusion for five months.  Why would she do this?  It is possible that she didn’t want to share the news of her pregnancy with others only to have them scoff and disbelieve her.  After all, as scriptures tell us, she was old, and she was infertile.  It is just possible that she waited until she was definately “showing” before exposing her pregnant belly to her community, having the obvious ability to silence any mockers.

We see a pattern of doubt in Zechariah and Elizabeth, even though they were very strong spiritual people who indeed honored God and credited Him for their blessings, including the pregnancy (Luke 1:25).

In Luke 1: 26 we are told:

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

It seems significant to mark the timeline of Mary’s conversation with the angel Gabriel by referencing Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  The angel Gabriel foretold the birth of Jesus to Mary (it is suggested that this conversation is when Mary became pregnant) and explained that she is to name Him “Jesus”, to which Mary replied “I am the Lord’s servant.”

Quickly, Mary went to the town in Judea where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived.  Likely, she was excited to reveal the news to Elizabeth and to talk about their pregnancies together.  The Bible tells us that Mary entered into the home, greeting Elizabeth (probably excitedly), and we see something profound happen to Elizabeth, just from the sound of Mary’s voice.  We see the response from Elizabeth:

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:41-45

Elizabeth, once characterised by silence and isolation in her pregnancy, now exlaims in a loud voice that she has faith that Mary is the mother of her Lord, Mary who isn’t married, and who, just as Elizabeth would remember from her own early days of pregnancy in seclusion, isn’t one bit “showing” yet.  What prompted this sudden change in her demeanor?  She tells Mary that it is because her baby in her womb leaped for joy.   John the Baptist, still in the womb, played an integral part of Elizabeth’s faith, which was also likely highly significant to Mary, as this was the first conversation the Bible suggests she had regarding this pregnancy from outside of marriage, at a time in which society was much less supportive of extramarital pregnancies than today (Matthew 1:19-20).

Would this conversation have made it to scripture had Elizabeth not spoken the truth about baby John’s acknowledgment of being in the presence of the Lord?  Would Mary have felt just as encouraged by her time with Elizabeth had this not been shared?  We don’t know.  All we do know, is that a mother spoke up about the value and significance of her own in-utero child’s life, and of the value and significance of another mother’s in-utero child’s life, and it blessed this mother about to face great controversy, and it blesses us even today.

“If it was somehow in God’s plan (not to be mistaken for His perfect will) that my baby die, does that suggest that He delights in this?  If there really is a God, why would He make people suffer who really want children, while other people make decisions against the lives of children?”

God does not delight in our suffering, and mandates that we also do not delight in the suffering of others (Proverbs 17:5, John 11:35, 1 corinthians 13:6, Obadiah 1:12).

Remember, God knew before the Fall in the Garden that He would bring Jesus into the world for the purpose of His untimely death (Ephesians 1:4), that He would offer more in the death of Jesus than ever in all of the miracles performed in His lifetime, to offer us the hope, reconciliation, and relationship with Him (Acts 2:23, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 5:8, John 3:16).  And, even though God knew what Jesus’ fate would be, and so did Jesus (Matthew 16:21-23), God wasn’t pleased that Jesus had to die (Matthew 27:46).  This was His permissive will, orchestrated through His plan, for the purpose of bringing us, all of us, closer to Him.

True, there are many aspects of God that are simply mysterious and too profound for us to understand.  However, we can take God at His Word, and the Bible is in itself an instruction manual, designed to offer hope, healing and direction.  According to this manual, our purpose in our time on earth is to choose to follow Christ, and to be a light to lead others to also choose to follow Him, and according to Scripture, God will provide for us the resources we need to fulfill this task (Matthew 28:19-20, Matthew 13:45-46, Luke 8:39, John 4:28-29,  Acts 1:8, 2 Corinthians 12:7, Romans 8:15-17).

It is important to remember that God has a special concern for children, as reflected in scripture  (Psalm 27:10, Isaiah 49:15, 1 John 4:7-8, 1 Peter 1:16, James 1:27, John 10:11, Genesis 21:17, Mark 10:15).

Scripture gives us glimpses of the eternal joy, restoration and life we are to receive:

God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:3-4).

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16-17).

The Lord knows the days of the upright: and our inheritance shall be for
ever (Psalm 37:18).

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust will corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal (Matthew 6:20).

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may also be (John 14:2-3).

God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain (Revelation 21:4).

Finally, concerning these things, 2 Peter 3:9 tells us:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (in fellowship with Him).

Again, our purpose in our time on earth is to follow Christ, and to be a light to lead others to also choose to follow Him   This is our job, even in utero (Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah 49:5, Luke 1:15, Galatians 1:15).

God, in exchange, reveals opportunities for us to do this, if we seek Him.

So, who can your baby bless through their short time here with us?  Who has your baby already blessed?  How has your baby blessed you?  I’d love for you to share with me about your experiences.

I realize this may be a difficult task, to find these blessings while in the middle of your grief, so I’ll list a few ideas (you may not have experienced all of these, and that is fine):

  • Do you remember your pregnancy in fondness?
  • Is there some level of accountability that you have identified?  Have you been able to seek real forgiveness, either for yourself, or for someone else who may have played a part in the death of your child?
  • If someone else is accountable in some way for the death of your baby, has that person yet sought forgiveness (demonstrated by change)?
  • Do you have memories of bonding with your child while he or she was still in your womb?
  • Has the pain of your loss made you see a point where you were no longer in control, but that you were somehow carried through the process?
  • Have you learned more about your own strength through your suffering?
  • Has your pain shown you how much you love your child?
  • Has your grief led you to more compassion or patience for others who are suffering?
  • Has your desire to find healing led you to other parents who also grieve?  How have you supported one another in these new friendships?
  • Has your grief allowed you to receive support from others?
  • Have you been able to identify areas of weakness in yourself that have come out during your time of tribulation and grieving?  How has this process refined your character?
  • Has your grief deepened your faith in God, commitment to your spouse, or love for other children?
  • Have you discovered that any of there things are not instead of your child, but because of your child?

Call them out, whatever they are; hit “reply” and tell me how your baby has blessed you.  The more we seek to find God’s pure love, truth, and blessings in our afflictions, the more God will bestow these positive, healing qualities upon our lives (2 Corinthians 4:17, Proverbs 3:6, Hebrews 2:18).

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Comments

  1. http://facesofloss.com/2010/10/377.html

    Just found your blog and thought I would share our story too!

  2. Wow! This is THE most in-depth explanation of heaven for babies I have ever found! This is EXACTLY what I needed!!

    To answer your question, I think my daughter’s life has shown me just how much I really wanted her. It has also made me more sensitive to other people who are hurting.

  3. Kelli Holcomb says:

    Oh, Heidi! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this!! I don’t even know where to begin listing the blessings that have come from my two little ones short lives. It such a difficult way to grow, but it is so true that it’s through my suffering that He reveals Himself to me so beautifully and powerfully. I have begun to jot down things I’m learning through this,but the most profound I think has been an appreciation of the weight of sin and the magnitude of His grace. While I feel no guilt, I know I did not cause my babies to die in my womb, I DO know that all death is a result of sin. Our, my, sin has ushered death into the world. It happens simply because all of creation has been affected by the fall… Our bodies simply don’t work or last like they were originally designed. If the death of my tiny babies grieves my heart to the point where I can barely breathe, how much more does His heart grieve over all of the world’s suffering? Suffering that would not have been if it weren’t for our rebellious hearts. And in those moments of crying out to Him in my pain, and understanding more the “weight of the fall”, He gently reminded me that He has redeemed me….that in my complete inability to “make it right” HE ALONE out of His glorious grace in Jesus Christ has brought me back to Him and is making all things right. He is the Only One who can. What a balm for my soul as these thoughts came over me. And for my babies…wow! They are completely perfect and full of joy. The gratitude in my heart for this, and my love for Jesus has grown. I can see that He is slowly, and very painfully, making me more like Him. There is nothing I want more.

  4. Ok, trying to reply with ways I’m blessed not the ways I’m hurt. I got to hold Riley for 38 weeks straight, I got to hold Liam for 13 weeks. I am stronger than I thought. I love Hunter more than anything; more than ever before. I can handle 2 children, if that ever happens. I have met people (and let’s face it I’m pretty isolated in day to day life) that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. One day I will help a mom like me, but I don’t know how. Some things don’t deserve my anxiety. I deserve people who will treat me good (Well??).

  5. Iv been so blessed and touched. I thank God for the grace to be completely happy while carrying Tireni for straight 39weeks, removing the fear of infertility,trusting and depending on God more, thirst to know God more, glad he completely carried me at my weakest, He showed me how he could be my strength, I appreciate him more for my older children, bless him go sparing my life, for healing and hope and faith amongst others.

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