Does God Owe Us Something When We Suffer?

by Kristen Gilles

in Coping With Miscarriage/Stillbirth/Death

Lent Landscape - Leslies Laine HillMany of you have followed our story here in the last several months as we awaited the arrival of our son Parker David, and as we welcomed and held his beautiful, lifeless body on October 21st. He was born into the arms of Jesus as his earthly body failed in labor for unknown medical reasons. Thank you, again, for journeying with us and sharing your tears and your prayers with our family.

As we move forward in following Christ here on earth in the aftermath of this difficult trial, we face a number of temptations to doubt God’s good purposes for our lives and to fear any future losses we may endure. At the same time, we have the opportunity each day to hold unswervingly to the Hope that we profess, to stand upon the Rock of God’s never-failing, never-lying Word, to trust and love the Lord with all of our hearts, and to boldly proclaim the praises of the One who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

God’s grace enables us to trust Him and keeps our feet from stumbling back into darkness. We praise God for His great grace to us each day. Our faith is NOT in OUR faith or our own strength but in our merciful God who has given us the grace to believe His Word, to call upon Him and be saved from Satan, sin, fear and death.

Receiving God’s great grace to endure — and working out my salvation with holy fear and trembling — has become a daily discipline like never before in my life.  I’ve asked myself a number of times since Parker’s birthday,

“What if we lose another child? How will I respond then?

I’ve also been tempted to think that God would never take another child from me but instead He’ll give me what I want now (and on my terms), since I gave up having Parker here with me. This selfish attitude presumes that God owes me something, and, in fact, God does not owe me anything.  Yet, He has already given me everything I need for life and godliness. Further, He daily loads me with blessings. And He supplies all of my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. He doesn’t withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly (made right only by His own righteousness).

However, in our humanity, even believers don’t usually long for more suffering and trials to befall us or others. We also have a tendency expect that God will repay us here on earth for whatever losses we endure. We may confidently expect that He will not allow a mother to have more than one baby die in her womb or in her arms, but will instead follow the loss of a child with the gift of another child carried through a healthy pregnancy and easy labor and delivery. Parents who’ve lost children probably want to expect this more than anyone else.

We have heard countless testimonies of God, in His grace and goodness, doing just this and even more. I’ve recently learned of how God has allowed a couple to conceive twins just two months after their firstborn was a stillbirth, and how another woman who lost her two boys and a girl in a car accident was then given triplets — two boys and a girl.  God is showing us what He can do because nothing is impossible for Him. But I shouldn’t believe that these families deserved these miracles, or that I deserve a similar, miraculous “follow-up” pregnancy; nor should I assume that God will repay me for what I’ve lost in this life, in the way I expect it.  At the same time, I also have no reason to believe that God is not good or faithful or true if we don’t have any more babies or if we lose another one.

I admit that I desire a similar “amazing” outcome for our lives, yet, as a believer who has suffered the loss of a child, I’ve begun to experience the deep fellowship with Christ that comes through sharing in His suffering, and I’m convinced more than ever that God is working everything together for my good, even any future trials and losses we may endure. I have nothing to fear in any future pregnancy, childbirth or child-rearing.  “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” (Psalm 119:50)  God’s Word holds everything together, including my life.  What great comfort in the midst of great pain and sorrow, and in the face of an unforeseen future.

God has helped me to know that every Little One belongs to Him, more specifically that every Little One He may give to me will belong to Him, and I can trust Him to guard all that is mine (Psalm 16):

He’s also reminded me that the grace which sustained us through the letting our precious Parker go will also sufficiently sustain us in any future trial. We belong to God, and God will never abandon His own.

While I could bide my remaining time on earth by dwelling too much on the loss of having Parker here with me, I choose instead the joy that comes from spending my time, thoughts and energy pondering the eternal gain that Parker has received as a child of God.  His gain of being alive forever with Christ in heaven is also my gain as a mother who wanted so desperately for my son to know Christ, and to desire to please Him all the days of his life. Parker is now perfect in Christ and safe forever.

And because of God’s boundless grace, love and goodness, I have not only gained a beloved son, but I’ve gained a beloved brother in Christ. And what a privilege for me to be used by God to carry this precious human life here on earth. More than this though, what a privilege to be saved and carried by God Himself, sustained by his strength as He daily bears our burdens while we rest on His promise to return and rescue us from our suffering on this earth and carry us to the eternal home He’s preparing for us now.

Yes, our comfort in our suffering is this: God’s promise preserves our life.  Therefore, we have nothing to fear going forward.  But, as the writer of Psalm 56 encourages us, when we are afraid, we will trust in the Lord and continue to praise Him for what He has planned and promised, confident that He keeps track of all our sorrows and He treasures our every tear.

Artwork above: Lent Landscape by Leslie Laine Hill, Sojourn Church visual arts ministry

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