Contrary to what many of us may imagine, miscarriages are not God’s punishment for our sins. Justin Chan, together with his wife, suffered three miscarriages. Here, he shares his thoughts on miscarriages with relation to God. His touching piece thoughtfully balances a father’s perspective, with the objectivity of a theology graduate.
I have three children who are now in the presence of God. They were IVF embryos who lived for a time in my wife’s womb. We heard a faint heartbeat for the first. With much hope and prayer, we interceded that life will prevail. However, the next scan confirmed that the heartbeat had gone. We never got to see the second. With the third, we heard a steady, unmistakable pulse of life. Mere hours later, a quick but relatively painless miscarriage reverted our status to childless parents. You can read my wife’s post that chronicles our journey in much greater detail.
From A Human Perspective
Here are my thoughts, as one who has graduated from seminary; as one who is called to full-time ministry; as a Christian trying to make sense of these tragedies. Three miscarriages. Every now and then, in the darkest moments of despair, I am tempted to think that God is the one who has made us accursed. I imagine that we are paying for the sins of our past with the lives of our unborn children. I am tempted to think that God has turned His face away from me; placed His hand of judgment on me, and is forcing me to a reckoning of my manifold sin. I am tempted to cry out, “How many more miscarriages, Lord, until Your anger is abated?”
But this is not a good question to ask. It presumes a God of vindictive wrath, the great invigilator in the sky waiting to punish those who slip up. This is not the God of the Bible. This is not the God whom I serve, the God who rescued me and restored me into His heavenly kingdom. Nor is this the God whose presence I have tangibly felt—the presence of lovingkindness, faithfulness, goodness, and mercy.
What the Bible Says
I need to be reminded that death is not God’s desire or design. Romans 8:1 is clear that “there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus”. Furthermore, the biblical context in which miscarriage and barrenness are mentioned in the Old Testament regarding Israel’s compliance with the Mosaic Law, should be carefully read. It tells us that God is not saying that He will cause these terrible curses, but that through Israel’s disobedience, their spiritual malady will give inroads to the terrible physical effects of sin (Exodus 23:26, Hosea 9:14).
While Romans 11:36 teaches that everything exists by God’s power and is intended for His glory, this must not mean that God intended for miscarriage to happen. God’s love clearly extends to the human being even from conception; For He knows us while we are still in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). Our God does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow (Lamentations 3:33).
In my Wesleyan tradition as a Methodist, there is an underlying high value on children. John Wesley saw children as “immortal spirits whom God has, for a time, entrusted to [their parents’] care”, and with admonitions that one soul of a child is “of more value than all the world besides”. Coupled with Wesley’s view of divine sovereignty tempered with holy love, God who “orders all temporal things, as health [and by implication, death]” is also the One in whom “the death of him that dieth can never be resolved into [His] pleasure or sovereign will. No; it is impossible”.
Thus, while God knows the outcome of a pregnancy from the outset of time, He is not the author of its demise. A death, regardless of the person’s age, is a real loss that God also feels.
Holding onto Truth
Such theologizing leads me to a place of comfort – God is not out to punish me for my sins with the death of my children. God is not absent, distant, and uncaring. I feel His invisible hands of grace cradling me as I lament over their deaths. I feel His love as I have never felt it: strong, stable, and secure. It keeps my feet planted on solid ground through the torrents of despair. You see, I believe we live in a broken world where the effects of sin pervade the very fabric of existence. This fallen world may lay waste to our bodies and consume the lives of our unborn children, but it cannot take away the hope I have. My hope is that one day, in the consummation of time, all of heaven and earth will be made right.
At that time, my wife and I will come face-to-face not only with God, but with our three little ones. Perhaps then, we will sing the song of perfection, together with many other couples who will be reunited with their little ones, a melody made sweet by such a marvelous reunion.
I cannot wait to sing that song.
Justin and Christine continue to remain hopeful in conceiving and building a family on this Earth. He has faith and trust in God’s will and purposes for them.