My dear friend, Tina, recently suffered an early miscarriage. Though she had calculated that she was about 12 weeks along, the child had actually passed away about 6 weeks after conception. Thinking she was nearly into her second trimester, she and her husband figured it was safe to tell the children about their new little brother or sister. The kids were ecstatic! Her 10-year-old daughter immediately began constructing a paper chain to count down the days till she could hold that precious baby. The family had begun to talk about names, and a future together with this new child.
Then came the 12-week checkup, and the devastating news. My friend, in the midst of her own grief and sorrow, must now figure out how to tell her daughter that this glorious, happy event for which they were already starting to plan, would not be happening. This baby, who was as much an image bearer of God as you and I are, as real as any other person, would never come and meet this big sister. “How will I tell her? How can I break her heart like this? How will I help her with her grief, when I am still processing it myself?” These were all questions my friend was asking. I didn’t really know the answers, but I did know where to find them. The Lord, through His Word, gave me three truths that would bring comfort, both for my friend and for her daughter.
They are invited to come before the King with their grief.
The story of Esther seems to be a favorite with little girls. When her uncle Mordecai called Esther to go and appeal to the king for the lives of the Jews, she was afraid because she knew what could happen if she approached the throne of the king:
All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any man or woman who goes into the inner court to the king, who has not been called, he has but one law: put all to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter, that he may live. ~Esther 4:11
But, in spite of her fear, because she loved her people, she bravely went to the throne room to seek an audience with the king.
So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favor in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden scepter that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the scepter. And the king said to her, “What do you wish, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you—up to half the kingdom!” ~Esther 5:2-3
Esther was very brave to overcome her fear of such a rich and powerful ruler. But our children don’t have to be afraid like Esther was because, if they are trusting in Christ, they have already been granted entrance into the throne room of the greatest, richest, most powerful King that ever was or ever will be!
When we trust in Christ, we are covered in His righteousness. This is what gives us permission to come to Him when we need comfort for our fears and sadness. He extends His scepter to us, inviting us to come near to Him and tell Him our request. He is the God of all comfort, and is able to comfort us in our grief. So, like Esther, my friend and her little girl can come before the throne of this comforting Father and pour out their hearts to Him.
Jesus understands their sorrow.
This same great King who extends the scepter also understands the request of the petitioner. Jesus suffered grief, sadness, fear, and all the other emotions that we as humans experience, yet without sin. This means that we can come to Him in our grief, knowing that He is not unfamiliar with such pain. He suffered perfectly in order to bring the healing that we need. He understands our weakness, and knows that we are but dust. His expectation is not that we come with sophisticated words or perfect grief. He only desires that we come.
My friend and her little girl can come together to their Great High Priest, seeking His love, comfort, and understanding. One of the most common questions, both from kids and adults at a time like this is, “Why? Why did our baby have to die?” While we won’t receive an answer to that question in this life, it is a good opportunity to talk about heaven. Knowing that her baby brother or sister is with Jesus can bring great comfort to a grieving child. This can also stimulate a desire to know more about heaven, which will draw her to the Scriptures. What a wonderful opportunity to seek more and more of Christ, even in a time of great grief!
He collects their tears in his bottle
You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in your book?
Charles Spurgeon says of this verse,
“We perhaps are so confused after a long course of trouble, that we hardly know where we have or where we have not been; but the omniscient and considerate Father of our spirits remembers all in detail; for he has counted them over as men count their gold, for even the trial of our faith is precious in his sight.”
Martin Geier sees this verse as indicating that God is saving our tears for a purpose or memorial to our pain:
“…as if one should say, take care of my tears, as of a kind of wine that is very costly, and very pleasant to thee; or, that hereafter you may measure out to me just that quantity of joys.”
Many have speculated on the meaning of this verse, but it is clear that our suffering means something to God, and that our tears are not wasted. A child or parent can be assured that, no matter how many tears are cried, each one is meaningful and valuable to our loving God.
The loss of a pregnancy is truly a death in the family. Mommies, Daddies, and siblings must all grieve together. There is no timeline for any of us when it comes to grief. It may take your children many weeks or months to process the loss, and you may still speak of this child for many years to come. Each time your child comes to you with this pain, teach her to enter that throne room with boldness, just as Esther did, and as the writer of Hebrews encourages. She can seek comfort in her great High Priest who knows her weakness, understands her pain, and collects her tears. Hallelujah! What a Comfort! What a Savior!