Hope Deferred Makes the Heart Sick

June 21, 2016
by George Osborn

1% of couples have 3 miscarriages so when we embarked on our fourth pregnancy we had felt we had served the statistics and that even though we had previously lost 3 babies this time it might be different. Our hope was bolstered by a slightly different approach medically with some extra hormone tablets just to make sure. For the first time we reached the magical 12 week mark and because of our previous history by that stage we had already had a couple of scans and everything was pointing towards good news. Expectations were building and our families were starting to make plans, we had brought our child their first toy and were beginning to imagine the future with a new life in our world. Our world was about to come crashing down, after a routine appointment we were rushed for a emergency scan, immediately then confined to a bed and told my wife’s cervix was dangerously open. We held onto hope as we heard stories from friends and good old Dr Google that maybe a stitch or complete bed rest would keep this baby inside until all was safe.

Those five days in hospital were a whirlwind of sledge hammer after sledge hammer, we went from hope to despair as many times as there are hours in the day. We were told that we would likely contract an infection and that if this was the case they would recommend we induce the baby and therefore cause its death.

As a Christian its hard for me to describe to you even the thought of that let alone having to make that decision. Day 3 saw my wife contract an infection and that very decision was forced on us. We asked for more time and handed it over to Jesus in pray asking him to take this decision from us, around an hour later he did just that as my wife was overtaken with the infection and a number of doctors rushed in as panic filled the room, drips, monitors and assessments were made. Things looked bleak and we made the decision to treat Kate with medication which would mean we needed to induce the birth of our child, we needed to save Kate’s life. After an hour or two the infection began to subside but unfortunately this only gave way to our next whirlwind the birth of our daughter, Grace, we knew that she would enter the world and then die. Having to watch my wife give birth to our child was one of the most bizarre experiences of my life, everything about it should have been a joy yet it was filled with devastation and pain. There was no joy set before us, there was no sound of a baby crying or the thought of holding a life in our arms. Grace Osborn was born on 30th April at 11.55pm and subsequently died.

There were other complications and things that happened during this period but I think you get the gist, as we got back to our room I just remember lying on the bed with Kate and sobbing for what seemed like hours. I know my Bible, I know the advice I have given other people, I know that God loves us and is for us but in those moments we were in the pits and all his waves and breakers had swept over us, it was like rolling around and eating gravel.

I have come to so appreciate God’s word these last weeks, especially its brutal honesty and reality of the pain, take Psalm 88, Lamentations 3, take the whole book of Job. CS Lewis said in his book on Grief, whether you sit in the dentist chair gripping the arms or whether you sit there calm as can be, you still have to go through the pain of the drill. Sometimes life is painful, thats ok, it’s ok to acknowledge that. I have found during this period that people often want to move you on from pain, to assure that next time will be different, to tell you they are praying for you to feel better, but sometimes we need to sit in the pain and experience it. At any moment Jesus could have stepped down from the pain of the cross but he endured it and walked through it and from his suffering he learned obedience. That’s my prayer, not that it would go away, not that we would feel better but that we would learn from it, that we would grow to be more like Jesus. As I say that please don’t hear me say we are some hyper Christian who has it all together and wants more pain because it is such valuable lesson! I have cried out to God, asked him why, thought about walking away from my faith, sinned, and wanted to give up on more than one occasion. But, God has carried us and walked with us through the valley of the shadow of death, we have been able to say that the Lord gives and the Lord takes away blessed be his name.

The lesson God has given me most recently through this has been, you can take everything away from me but dont take your presence away from me, don’t take away Jesus. We can face anything, enduring anything if we have Jesus with us, his promise is never will he leave us or forsake us, it doesn’t always feel true in the middle of suffering but its here where we need to stand on the rock as the storm comes and come it will.

The other lesson is its not my faith but the object of my faith that holds me and rescues me. As with Job the biggest threat to my faith has been advisers, those who say that if you have enough faith then this wouldn’t have happened. That might not be the explicit sentence but you might hear things like “keep faith, believe for a miracle, trust that this won’t happen” I understand the sentiment and the hope that people want to give but the danger is we make this about our faith as if it is up to us to save our baby, God is King and he chooses to act through his saints prayers but ultimately it is his decision and not mine, it is his world and not mine, it is his baby and not mine. There is such a danger in making this about us. As Job said – Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble.

The pain and the suffering we see in our world is not because of a vengeful God or a God waiting for us to pray just enough or long enough to release his blessing,  but because of a wayward people, the brokenness we see is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world, again pearls from CS Lewis. The suffering screams at us that something is wrong, that this isn’t right, its not God’s intention or desire but is a sad consequence of our fallen world. Yet, God in his grace steps into this world to enter suffering to walk with us in it and to suffer himself, through his suffering we see the glimpse of the world yet to come. The one with no pain and no suffering, the one our heart aches for and most acutely in the pain. Jesus died and rose again to absorb suffering, to pay the price so that evil would finally be destroyed. While hope has been deferred it has not been destroyed for my hope rests in Jesus and i know that in that faith I will see Grace again, this time I will see her dance and I will see her introduce me to the Jesus she has always known face to face. It will be her with tears in her eyes as she wishes she could have taken us from this broken world to the new Jerusalem. To die is indeed gain but to live is Christ, don’t take him away from me.

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