The Millers are officially a family of five. We’re just a few days into it, and we’re exhausted, the house is a mess, and we’re still trying to relearn the baby stage, but we’re having a blast. As I type this blog with my 5-day old son on my chest, I’m reminded of the journey it took to get to this point…
Our first two kids, Emery (7) and Adalyn (4), came complication-free, and we naively assumed that was common.
In our first two years in Clarksville, we crossed paths with many couples who lost children through miscarriage or stillbirth. Two years after we moved to Clarksville, Jenn sat down with a girl who was attending our church who wanted to talk through the pain of losing her son. Jenn talked with her, reassured her with Scripture and prayed for her. However, when she got home, she informed me that she felt like the Lord had told her we would miscarry our next child. He would use our pain to comfort others.
Months went by and we found out Jenn was pregnant for the third time! However, after only 8 weeks of pregnancy, the unexpected happened. Something was seriously wrong. As Jenn cried out to the Lord, He asked her, “If I take this baby, will you still praise Me?” Right there, through her tears, she replied, “Yes, I will, but please don’t!” The next day, on our 8th wedding anniversary, our baby went home to be with Jesus. Through some of the deepest pain we had ever felt, we chose to praise. Since that baby never had to face the imperfection of earth, we named it “Eden” (“perfection”).
About 7 months later, on the day Eden was due to be born, we found out we were pregnant again! God had redeemed a day marked with pain and replaced it with joy! 12 weeks later, however, our fourth child, Ellis (“gift from God”), went to be with Jesus and Eden in heaven. We weren’t ready for this again, but we knew God was still with us and had a plan through the pain.
Exactly one year to the date after Jenn had endured the medical procedure after our second miscarriage, we found out we were pregnant for the fifth time! God’s timing was amazing…but we were scared. I remember the moment that Jenn and I saw the “+” on the pregnancy test. We immediately joined hands to thank God for the child in her womb. We were thankful, but we were also fearful. We had learned firsthand that our child’s next heartbeat is no more guaranteed than our next breath.
Just a week or so after finding out we were pregnant, we took a trip to see Jenn’s parents. While we were there, we shared the exciting news with them and they rejoiced and prayed with us. However, as we drove home, Jenn began to have telltale signs of another potential miscarriage. We were on the verge of tears on our way home when Jenn got a text from her dad. Having no idea we thought we were miscarrying again, her dad’s text read:
“So glad you all were here. Exciting news – Abraham said that he and the boy would return – God is in control and mom and I will hold this child.”
Our faith said, “That’s a word from God- this pregnancy won’t end like the last two.”
Our fear screamed, “Don’t get your hopes up. It sounds too good to be true. Don’t get too attached to this one.”
It turns out, God did make us a promise through that simple text message. This week, while Jenn’s parents visited, we reminded them about that text and got to witness its fulfillment. Seeing them hold our newborn son in his bedroom was an incredible picture of God’s faithfulness and provision.
Can I promise that your story of pain will end like ours? No.
Can I promise you will one day have a child? No.
Your pain may not involve miscarriage – it may be divorce, cancer, financial loss, or anything else. Regardless of what makes our suffering different, we have access to the same Shepherd who traverses the valleys with us.
In the Bible days, shepherds led their sheep to the pastures, walking in front to make sure the pathway was safe. However, in a dark valley, the shepherd would step back and walk amongst the sheep. It’s in the deep, dark valleys that the sheep need the reassurance of the Shepherd’s presence and voice the most.
In our case, with each doubt, fear, pain and miscarriage, Jesus, the Great Shepherd, walked through the valleys with us. He spoke to us. He provided for us. He redeemed our sorrow. He always had a purpose behind the pain. And we never walked alone. We don’t know what lies ahead, but we know Who will be with us.
When you find yourself in the valley of the shadow of death, take heart. Your Shepherd is right there with you (Psalm 23:4).