Written by Rachel Denison
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” –Psalm 23:6
On June 19th 2015, my husband and I lost our precious first baby at 9 weeks pregnant. That day was followed by months and months of processing grief, expectations, sadness and hard questions. (For more on that season, read Wrestling with God) On December 16th 2015, we found out we were expecting once again.
So many people are asking me, “What is it like to be pregnant? What is it like expecting your first child? What is God showing you in this season of waiting?” For many women, pregnancy is a mixture of thrilling, sweet and manageable symptoms. But for some, pregnancy is a challenging, scary and fearful experience. It’s hard to explain the mix of emotions I felt as I looked at that positive test for a second time last year. There is this difficult balance you find yourself walking of being grateful and cautious all at the same time. Your heart immediately goes into self-protect mode, in hopes of not being hurt again. I constantly found myself wanting to be hopeful, but not naïve—exhaustingly attempting to guard my own heart.
I am now almost twenty weeks pregnant: halfway there. I genuinely can’t believe it. I have to pinch myself constantly. We found out last week we’re having a son. He is so perfect in every way. The doctor is nothing but hopeful based on his measurements, heartbeat, and anatomy scan. You know, my wonderful doctor has been telling me since my nine-week appointment that our child looked perfectly healthy, and that she’s seen 95% of babies like him go to full term. But still, my heart has held back in fear, afraid to believe her words as truth.
It wasn’t until the past few days I realized God is teaching me to expect good again. After our miscarriage, I went on a journey of trying to understand trust, sovereignty, and the goodness of God. I had come to the conclusion that what is good may not always feel good. What is best may not always feel or look best in our limited perspective. I also had to finally learn we live in a fallen world, and sometimes life just sucks—and it’s nobody’s fault. Somewhere in the midst of all this, I forgot how to expect good that actually looks and feels good to me. I unlearned what it is to expect life, joy, health, and gifts from my good Father.
We must find the delicate balance of not assuming every good thing in life is a given, but also humbly receiving each beautiful gift God is trying to give us. I’d been refusing to savor the gift my heavenly Father wanted to give out of fear, fear he’d really be giving me a stone (Luke 11:9–11). I am learning to expect good again. We have been asking God for a child. And our God really is good. When he himself said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him,” why shouldn’t I take him at his word?
My current season of expecting a son looks like learning to expect God’s unfailing goodness and mercy to follow me. It looks like letting him walk me through each fear to see he is right beside me, and that he is on my side. More than anything I am grateful for the companionship of God in this season, in knowing Craig and I are not alone. We have a big, merciful, good Father on our side and his Son interceding on behalf of our own son. I am standing firmly on every promise he makes, because his word is pure. I want to say with all the confidence and gusto of David, a man who knew well the pain of suffering yet could say, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
God is trustworthy and true. And he is more for me than I could ever imagine. That makes me feel safe, secure and hopeful. And finally I can have hope without feeling naïve because my hope is in the Giver, not the gift. And that is more than enough for me.