It was December 2017 when my life was first turned upside down by a sudden and unexpected miscarriage.
My son Ben was two and a half at the time and settling into preschool well, so it felt like the right time to begin turning our attention towards extending our family.
We got pregnant quickly too, and everything felt like it was falling perfectly into place... until I discovered some bleeding which soon progressed into a miscarriage at around 8 weeks.
But even though that pregnancy loss was upsetting at the time, I mostly treated it as a temporary pause in our family planning. It was inconvenient for sure, but we would just take a few months to heal and then try again.
At that stage, I couldn’t even have begun to imagine how that pause would linger for so long, and eventually end up feeling more like a permanent stop, as several more consecutive miscarriages followed.
There’s so much I could write about my experiences of recurrent miscarriage – the physical trauma of the experience, the sudden and unexpected onslaught of grief, the slowly unfolding disappointment of secondary infertility, or the continued social silence that surrounds it which makes it harder to heal.
But what I really want to share about is the impact of loss and infertility on hope.
We tend to talk a lot about hope as Christians, but what happens when what you really hope for doesn’t materialise? When life suddenly throws a curved ball, or doesn’t work the way you wanted it to?
I don’t consider myself brave because I’ve had to endure multiple miscarriages or process loss on top of loss. That’s not really about bravery, because there was never a choice to avoid it – but if I could have, I would.
I don’t consider myself brave because of all the fertility tests and treatments that have ensued either; all of the appointments, procedures, needles and drugs were just a necessary means to an end that I hoped would materialise some day.
And I don’t even feel especially brave because I have shared these experiences all over the internet for anyone to read. To me, writing is just a tool for processing my pain, and if pressing ‘publish’ means that I can help someone else in a similar position to feel a bit less alone, then that’s a gain.
But what does feel like real bravery to me is learning how to embrace a future that now feels so uncertain and unknown…
You see, for as long as I can remember, I have always imagined having a large family, with two or maybe three kids running around my home, and now that much hoped for reality, has morphed into an unlikely possibility.
It’s a pretty scary thing to realise that the future you had always mapped out in your head and your heart may not actually be the future God has for you. And it’s also a pretty courageous thing to decide that you will keep on trusting God for that future anyway - a future that you didn’t expect or cannot see.
Like me, are you facing unfulfilled hopes for your life or interruptions to your best laid plans? And like me, are you sometimes left wondering how you know if it’s time to let go of them and dare to explore some different dreams for your future instead?
Whether it’s about family planning, or something else entirely, I think that choosing to let go of your own plans and trust God for a future you never imagined takes real bravery.
But also, it’s so, so worth it...
Because even if your future turns out to look very different from the one you imagined, you can still trust that it will ultimately be good, because our God is so good! And He promises that trusting in Him will not leave us disappointed.
Psalm 25:3 offers the encouragement that, “No one who hopes in Him will ever be put to shame” and Romans 5:5 assures us that ‘hope does not disappoint us”.
However, that doesn’t mean that we’ll never feel disappointed by things going wrong in our lives. Clearly, that isn’t the case. But I do believe that God is committed to squeezing goodness out of every situation or circumstance that this life may throw at us – not just in heaven, but also in this broken and imperfect world.
In Romans 8:28, God’s word also tells us: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
It’s such a commonly quoted verse, and yet how hard is it to trust that it’s really true when hard things happen? And how hard is it to trust that it’s true not just in a general theological sense, but that it’s also really true, specifically for you and me?
I know it can be hard to hold onto hope when life doesn’t work out the way that you’d expected - but isn’t this the story that the Bible keeps on telling us, over and over again? From the very first chapters of Genesis right through to Revelations, we read of a God who is continuously healing and redeeming and restoring and making all things new.
So the challenge I am trying to embrace now in the aftermath of so much disappointment, and want to invite you to also consider today is this: Will you dare to believe that He still has extravagantly good plans for your life, regardless of how things might appear now?
It takes real bravery to let get of those parts of your story that you can’t control, and to trust in God alone - as opposed to trusting for specific hoped-for outcomes or timescales or goals. But isn’t that what this whole journey of faith is really about? Discovering that our hope is in Christ alone.
Proverbs 13:12 reminds us, “Hope deferred can make the heart sick” and it’s really true.
Continually facing that cycle of hope and disappointment, month after month after month, can really wear a person down and become very damaging. I’ve not only found this in my own life, but also with countless other women I’ve had the privilege of supporting since setting up a miscarriage and infertility network for other women in my area a year ago.
But I am not giving up on hope, I’m just more careful where I place my hope these days.
You see, I need a hope that I can depend on. I need the kind of hope that will not leave me disappointed again. I need one that doesn’t ebb and flows with my circumstances. Don’t we all?
That’s why I am doubling down, fixing my eyes on Jesus alone, the author and perfecter of our faith - the only sure and lasting hope.
So will you join me in becoming a bit braver in trusting Him with those missed expectations, those unfulfilled yearnings and those hopes deferred in your own life too?
And will you trust that the author of your life is still able to pen the very best story with your life – as you put your hope in Him? Because as you do, you might just be surprised by where God takes your story next too.
Her first published book available on Amazon: ‘Sand Between Your Toes: Inspirations for a Slower, Simpler, More Soulful Life’ is a devotional all about learning to rest in God.
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