“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
(John chapter 11, verses 32-35)
The day this article is published might have been the day I’d give birth to my third child. In the midst of our strange circumstance, this story has prevailed as a narrative that has shaped my family over this year. I hope to take your attention, just for a moment, from the issues we face as a collective society that have eclipsed the individual, and rather focus on the one. This story is mine, but it does not stand alone, and I share it in the hope that the reader might know deeper the heart of our God.
In January this year my family stood around a pregnancy test in anticipation. My eight-year-old daughter’s eyes widened as she tried to contain her excitement;
“Mummy, what does it mean?”
“We’re having another baby!”
Months earlier in prayer I had felt a peace and assurance in my soul that my family was not yet done growing. My Husband and two children at eight and five years had never been more excited, and we began quickly preparing a place in our hearts and lives for a little one.
I had the tendency to enter pregnancy with trepidation, having had two miscarriages before this pregnancy; but I had a sense of certainty in this one. I knew God had a promise and purpose for this, and I was thankful my persistent morning sickness would not let me forget it. For the first time, I felt completely confident.
It was in my eighth week that circumstances began to change. My bloodwork began to show levels that didn’t correspond to my dates, and my symptoms began to change. Over the next week, my husband and I remained confident that the challenges to the pregnancy would subside; holding on to those words
“... This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory, so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
(John chapter 11, verse 4)
Through sickness, hurt, and financial struggle my God had proven himself faithful in my life; in our marriage; things would surely get better. But they didn’t. It was an evening in week nine when I finally said to my husband, “I need to go to the hospital.”
The sonographer rolled the wand over my body as we watched the screen, waiting. From corner to corner he searched the depths for some sign of life. There was nothing. Where we had seen our baby weeks before, now there was no trace, only darkness.
“Lord, if you had been here...”
In tears and silence, we drove home. I wanted to say, “Lord, if you had just been there, my baby would still be with me” but I could not speak to Him; I could only weep.
The pain I felt I directed toward Jesus. Not for him to carry, but for him to endure. I was angry at Him, hurt by him. My heart was split in two as I walked that same hill Abraham walked carrying his promised child; one side wondered whether there was any point at all, and other still holding on to the hope that God is good. And in the moments I questioned His goodness, he patiently took my pain on himself.
I remembered John 11:35, “Jesus wept”. In the moment I could not understand. If he knew the outcome, the resurrection of Lazarus, why should he mourn?
More than a week later I returned to the hospital for a check-up. A different sonographer pulled out the wand to inspect the empty space where that little promise had been, as I held my breath not knowing how I’d react to seeing the painful image again. She took measurements; zooming in to inspect smudges of light that stood stark against the dark void. Finally I asked “is that the baby?”
“Yes. It’s smaller than we’d expect, but it is there.”
I’ve witnessed countless miracles in my life, but nothing that could have prepared me for that answer. When first the baby left, I couldn’t help but think the Lord had left me too; but now in the glimmer of the miraculous, I wondered whether this was the plan from the start.
The safety of my pregnancy was still uncertain, but there was no earthly action to take to ensure the outcome. All we could do was dedicate this child back to his Heavenly Father, just as Hannah returned her miracle child to Shiloh, treasure what moments we had, and hope with what hope we had left for another miracle.
When I was almost twelve weeks pregnant, the baby we called Shiloh left us again, this time to only awaken to the face of his beautiful Saviour.
My only question was “Why?”, and I remembered again, “Jesus wept.”
As believers, we’re often asked, “If God is good, why do bad things happen?”, and we can try to answer theologically, but the heart behind the question will not be satisfied. Our hearts know that we have seen only glimpses of the hope to come, that even the miracle of Lazarus was temporal and incomplete. My hope was not for the brief time I would share with Shiloh, though I treasure the miracle of holding him in my body for one more week, my hope is for Eternity.
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
(John chapter 11, verses 24-25)
Until that day comes, the mind may ask, “If God is good, why do bad things happen?” but the heart is asking, “Does he care?”
The answer is simple; Jesus wept.
Laura Wardrop has undertaken further study in the areas of Linguistics, Art, and Ministry. She currently works a graphic artist and painter, and takes a keen interest in exploring all areas of human creativity as a reflection of God’s character. She lives with her husband Stephen and two children in Brisbane.