Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Everyone knows someone who has had a miscarriage. If you don't, then now you do. Statistics say that almost 20% of pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Twenty percent. Usually when an event is so common, it lessons the intensity of your own personal experience. Not so with this experience. I've known people who have had miscarriages. My reaction is to be sad for them. To try and hurt for them. But because it's so common, it's hard to understand the depth of what's really going on. Now I understand the pain.

It happened Sunday. Deep down Kari knew it was happening. She expressed her anxiety. While I listened, I doubted it. I knew it of course was a possibility, but I didn't actually think it would happen to us. Monday morning she went in for a checkup. And the little beating heart that we saw on an ultrasound last week just wasn't there.

I will remember that phone call for the rest of my life.

I was installing some doors in a house downtown. I knew she was at the doctor...just waiting for the call saying that it was just a scare...that everything is all right. It happened with Mason. We had a scare near the beginning of that pregnancy, but the doctor's visit brought good news. Not this time.

Kari's voice broke. "It's not good..........................The baby's gone" I walked across an alleyway to a park and sat down on a picnic table. Stunned. As vivid as those words are in my head, I don't remember the rest of the conversation. I was absolutely stunned. I hadn't cried in a while, but at this point there's simply nothing else to do. What do you say? So I went home and cried with my wife.

The interesting thing is the kind of loss that this is. I won't pretend to think that my experience was the same as Kari's. The attachment of a mother to her child from the moment of conception is amazing to me. The fact that she knew what was going on before a doctor could look inside is absolutely astounding. And so in a big way her loss is different from mine. I saw the beating heart, and I know that it's my flesh and blood, but my attachment is more to a dream. A hope. A concept of what that little life is going to become. The baby was only 8 weeks old. And yet there's still the pain. It's Wednesday now. I'm recovering. And yet I expect the pain of the loss of my child will linger for a long time.

But it's in this place where I feel God the most. I'm an emotional person. I get depressed at many small insignificant things. And yet I can honestly tell you that I'm not depressed right now. It's here where God is loud. It's here where it is so clearly evident that he is pouring gallons of his grace into my little teaspoon-sized soul. Pain without depression is an interesting experience. Believe it or not I would actually call it an amazing experience. Not because I like the pain, but because pain mixed with God's peace produces hope. And purpose.

I'm not familiar with the context of CS Lewis' famous quote "Pain is God's megaphone," but I can tell you that I now understand it. And it's not that I think that God gives pain in order to pierce our deafness to him. I think it's related to Joseph's amazing words in Genesis 50:20, "You meant it for evil...but God meant it for good." God uses the pain that exists in this fallen world because it allows us to experience his goodness in the midst of it. And God is good. This is a truth I've known in my head since I was a boy. It's finally starting to move to my heart. To know that God is good is fine. But to know God's goodness changes everything. Theology without experience is almost pointless. But now that my religion is becoming my reality.....I'm finally touching God's personality and not just looking at his character.

I wouldn't wish this pain on anyone. In fact, even after all I've just said I'd still like the pain to go away. But if pain really is God's megaphone, then I choose to let go of the fear of loss. For if loss causes me to know my Savior better, then the risk is worth it.


Ben & Kristi Graves said...

oh, i am so sad to hear of your loss. but so glad to hear of your perspective. God IS good, in even the most painful situations. praying for you both in japan!

Angie and Jason said...

Joel, I am so sorry for you and Kari. We will be praying for you.

Jenny said...

I am prayinjg and thinking of you guys! Have a fun and relaxing vacation!

fentastic said...

remember your question a few weeks ago? "do you feel filled? With Jesus?" Your question last night to me: "do you feel depressed?" :) What you're finding, THAT'S why. You're a good man.

Sarah said...

Hey Joel, this is Sarah. So sorry to hear the news. You guys are heavy on my hearts today, and in my prayers of course.

Andrea said...

So hard to hear that people you love are hurting. I will be praying for you guys. Love you

Janice said...

Joel, that was beautifully written. You expressed your heart clearly, and it's such a blessing to see the Lord bring you through the pain to a place of deeper trust. I am still and will continue praying for you and Kari. I love you guys.

mattandsteph said...

Joel -I'll be praying for you and Kari. I'm so sorry.