Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A few thoughts for those for whom Mother's Day was difficult. . .

A few weeks ago I watched an episode of The Call of the Midwife (what can I say -- I am addicted to things English!)  It was a poignant episode when a baby was delivered with so many abnormalities and deformities that the child was left uncovered in a room to die.  A midwife sister found the child and held the baby for the child's final breaths.  She then told the mother what had happened to her baby (it had been delivered cesarean.  It reminded me of the many times I have been with mothers whose pregnancies have not gone according to plan and who were left without a baby to hold or one who did not live long after birth.

Miscarriage, stillbirth, and a child who dies soon after birth present a family, especially the mother, with an especially difficult and painful wound.  Everything in life has been put on hold for the birth of this child and everything anticipates the sound of a baby's cry, the cuddle of an infant's warm body, and the promise of a long and bright future.  When something interferes with this and leaves instead a wound, a grief, and a sorrow that is hard to console, we often do not know what to say or do.  Even pastors find themselves hard pressed to speak when the reality of our fallen world so brutally steals our hopes and dreams and leaves a new family, a new mom, with emptiness and sorrow.

Mother's Day is just passed and I am thinking about those who were mothers but whose children did not live to be held, cared for, and enjoyed.  Though it has been so many years, I cannot but think what kind of young man or woman our first child might have been and I know that this miscarriage remains in the heart and mind of my wife even more than me.  So my heart goes out to the moms who never got to hold or held only briefly the children who were given life in their wombs.  God bless you.

I often think of Luther's comforting words to a mother who miscarried.  You can read his words here. . . and here. . .
...It often happens that devout parents, particularly the wives, have sought consolation from us because they have suffered such agony and heartbreak in child-bearing when, despite their best intentions and against their will, there was a premature birth or miscarriage and their child died at birth or was born dead.
One ought not to frighten or sadden such mothers by harsh words because it was not due
to their carelessness or neglect that the birth of the child went off badly. One must make a distinction between them and those females who resent being pregnant, deliberately neglect their child, or go so far as to strangle or destroy it. This is how one ought to comfort them.
First, inasmuch as one cannot and ought not know the hidden judgment of God in such a case—why, after every possible care had been taken, God did not allow the child to be  born alive and be baptized—these mothers should calm themselves and have faith that God’s will is always better than ours, though it may seem otherwise to us from our human point of view.
Too often I think of some painful moments when inappropriate or unkind things are said in the belief that these will comfort them who feel the loss.  We cannot explain the will and ways of God except to know that in all things He is merciful to us and seeks not to hurt or harm us.  We should not try to put words in God's mouth but neither should we forget the comfort of the God who knits together every child in the womb -- even those who die!  This God claims life as His own domain.  This God expended the life of His one and only Son to redeem us unworthy sinners.  He does not willingly grieve us nor does the mystery that cannot be explained mean to deprive us of the comfort of His presence when earthly answers do not come and do not satisfy.

You who carried a baby in your womb - even for a short time - are mothers and though you may have had other children, they do not replace the baby your loved, rejoiced over, and then lost.  But though we sorrow now, we shall know the everlasting joy that cannot be taken from us (from the Gospel a month or so ago).  The Lord be with you, moms who loved and lost your children.  The Lord loves you and those children you lost.  They and you are precious in the Lord's sight.


David Gray said...

We lost a child at four months. When we interred him we sang this hymn, which was a great comfort:

O Father, You are sovereign
In all the worlds You made;
Your mighty Word was spoken,
And light and life obeyed.
Your voice commands the seasons
And bounds the ocean’s shore,
Sets stars within their courses
And stills the tempests’ roar.

O Father, You are sovereign
In all affairs of man;
No powers of death or darkness
Can thwart Your perfect plan.
All chance and change transcending,
Supreme in time and space,
You hold your trusting children
Secure in Your embrace.

O Father, You are sovereign
The Lord of human pain,
Transmuting earthly sorrows
To gold of heavenly gain,
All evil overruling,
As none but Conqueror could,
Your love pursues its purpose—
Our souls’ eternal good.

O Father, You are sovereign!
We see You dimly now,
But soon before Your triumph
Earth’s every knee shall bow.
With this glad hope before us
Our faith springs forth anew:
Our Sovereign Lord and Savior,
We trust and worship You!

When God permitted our son to die it wasn't because Satan got the better of Him that day, or because He was distracted. It was the wisdom of our loving God, which we cannot understand.

David Gray said...

This also from Martin Chemnitz:

"Are the children of believers who died before birth or in birth damned?

By no means, but since our children, brought to the light by divine blessing, are, as it were, given into our hands and at the same time means are offered, or it is made possible for the seal of the covenant of grace to be applied to them, there, indeed, that very solemn divine statement applies: The man-child, the flesh of whose foreskin is not circumcised on the eighth day, his soul shall be blotted out from [his] people (Gen. 17:14). Hence the Lord met Moses on the way and wanted to kill him because he had neglected to circumcise [his] son (Ex. 4:24-26). But when those means are not given us--as when in the Old Testament a male died before the eighth day of circumcision--likewise when they, who, born in the desert in the interval of 40 years, could not be circumcised because of daily harassment by enemies and constant wanderings, died uncircumcised, (Jos. 5:5-6) and when today infants die before they are born--in such cases the grace of God is not bound to Baptism, but those infants are to be brought and commended to Christ in prayers. And one should not doubt that those prayers are heard, for they are made in the name of Christ. (John 16:23; Gen. 17:7, Matt. 19:14) Since then, we cannot bring infants as yet unborn to Christ through Baptism, therefore we should do it through pious prayers. Parents are to be put in mind of this, and if perhaps such a case occur, they are to be encouraged with this comfort." (An Enchiridion, by Martin Chemnitz, Page 119, CPH St. Louis 1981)"

John Joseph Flanagan said...

It is sad when one loses a child at birth or at a young age especially. It is a lifelong feeling of grief for the family. I also grieve for the 58 million aborted children of America, almost 20 percent of our population of about 300 million people. And it is with great sorrow I see how the evil of infanticide was perpetuated by feminists held as icons, women like Gloria Steinam, Bella Absug, and leaders and supporters of Planned Parenthood as if the child made in God's image is worthy of death, having been an unwanted human being, an inconvenient and unsuitable obstacle to the pursuit of the life of pleasure and achievement. I suppose in the few years remaining in my life, having reached the seventies, I shall not see the scourge of abortion ended, but nevertheless, God is watching us, and the pro-life fight must go on. The dark blot of abortion for convenience is a glaring wound on the soul of this nation.