“Is Zion coming back home?”
I wondered what my young son had dreamt of his life with Zion. I crept back into my own dreams.
What would it have been like to gaze into your eyes? Or hear your laugh? I’m certain it’s a good one. I almost hear you belting out our favorite hymns as you bounce on our bed, the familiar Geyen voice that tricks others into believing you are one of your siblings. I see your little legs furiously pedal our cracked, faded red tricycle down the block. Then you pedal out of my sight.
My son’s question breathed life into dead dreams. Our grief was real, and we had nothing to show for it but an empty womb.
Yet our miscarriage showed us something — someone. Miscarriage directed us to our dearest friend, Jesus, who invited us to draw near — not to a light at the end of the tunnel, but to the blazing light in the darkness.
The author of Hebrews urges, “Let us . . . with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). While Christ’s atonement for our sins bought our confidence to approach, miscarriage can leave believers needy, desperate, and confused about the way forward. But God extends help toward fellowship at his throne: freedom to draw near, mercy to cover, and grace to strengthen in the days ahead.
1. Draw near in freedom.
In Christ, we have freedom to draw near to God as we are. When we weep, and when we don’t weep. When our hearts rage, and when our hearts feel like they have stopped beating. When we are silent. Still. Confused. When we have questions we can’t ask any other. In Christ, we can present our humanity before his throne — the spectrum of our miscarriage groanings. He invites us to pray not as the slaves we once were, but as the sons and daughters we now are.
For freedom Christ has set you free (Galatians 5:1) — with that new-life freedom comes honest prayer, or as Matthew Henry describes it, “a humble freedom and boldness, with a liberty of spirit and a liberty of speech . . . not as if we were dragged before the tribunal of justice, but kindly invited to the mercy-seat.” The King offers a place to “pour out your heart before him” (Psalm 62:8), to contend with his plans in your pain, to bring your despair to our Hope. Christians don’t direct our grappling at God, but we are invited to entrust to him our honest pains.
God’s word is filled with examples to follow. Think of Hannah, whose authenticity in “speaking out of [her] great anxiety and vexation” caused Eli the priest to think her a drunkard (1 Samuel 1:12–16). Or David, who described God as having abandoned him in his sorrow (Psalm 13:1–2). Or psalmists who deemed tears their food (Psalm 42:3), questioned how long they would remain “greatly troubled” (Psalm 6:3), or ended laments with words we might find uncomfortable to speak: “You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness” (Psalm 88:18). Even perfect Jesus asked the Father to remove the burden he carried (Mark 14:36), and then later cried, “Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
“Christ is strong enough to hear us process with him the very sorrows he bore.”
Christ laid down his life so we could draw near to him (John 15:13; Hebrews 4:16), and he is strong enough to hear us process with him the very sorrows he bore (Isaiah 53:4). Perhaps the golden bowls in heaven (Revelation 5:7) are filled not with perfectly worded prayers, but with the imperfect pleas of grieving saints, including those who’ve suffered miscarriage.
2. Draw near for mercy.
In the wake of my miscarriage, it seemed impossible to separate sorrow from sin. Speculation about my own responsibility haunted me. Comparison to other miscarriage stories — to assure myself I was grieving “enough” — consumed me. And fear and shame over others’ reactions to a new pregnancy exhausted me. But my heavenly Father did not demand that I parse out “holy” hurts from unholy ones before I ran to him. He did not turn from me because of the way I crawled into his lap (Matthew 7:7–11).
Approach the throne to “receive mercy” (Hebrews 4:16). The mercy in this verse is not salvation mercy; the author has already established the confidence for believers to draw near. This mercy also is not grace, which receives separate treatment in this text and throughout Scripture. This mercy is the forgiveness God gives — for the way we approach the throne, or for the sin that remains in our hearts — in order that he might offer us necessary help.
God’s mercy relieves us of the burden to disentangle sin and sorrow in our grief. He desires to grant us mercy (Matthew 9:13), and whether we approach the throne with our most penitent, gratitude-filled prayers or with messier ones, his mercies are endless (Lamentations 3:20). In love, he died to secure our fellowship with him, and now that same love causes his mercy to follow us all our days (Psalm 23:6) so he may bless our drawing near with more of himself.
3. Draw near to find grace to help.
I sat at the edge of our bed. No tears. No pleas. I sensed my Savior’s embrace, along with one word: sing. So I did. I received few answers to my questions about our miscarriage — but in moments like these, I found I didn’t need them. The biggest “grace to help in time of need” is our growing understanding of the glorious sufficiency of Christ in sorrow. He provides rest (Matthew 11:28), he grants endurance to live beyond miscarriage (Romans 5:3–5), and he delivers “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11), all in our bereaved state of child loss. And he draws us into new seasons, transformed (2 Corinthians 3:18).
“The biggest ‘grace to help in time of need’ is our growing understanding of the glorious sufficiency of Christ.”
Miscarriage is often undiscussed. It is profoundly personal. It is deeply sad. Yet many have experienced it, and many of those who haven’t are still ready to stand with you. Grace often arrives through human help, and when believers are satisfied in our faithful friend who tracks our sorrows (Psalm 56:8; Isaiah 53:4), we are ready to receive it. We are freed to grieve as privately or publicly as the moment calls for. We receive the outpouring of love — through shared sadness, embraces, prayers, meals, flowers — as the overwhelming grace it is.
And then there is the grace that most surprises — grace to walk with others through their own grief. Our oldest daughter wrote a story about a day when Jesus transports our children to heaven. He brings them to a man the children sense they know. “I am Zion!” the man cries. He and the children hug and laugh and weep. Then Jesus shares thrilling news: they may forever remain in heaven with Zion.
Everyone grieves differently. If we had missed that, we would have missed her. Our daughter wrote her grief, though she didn’t shed tears. She too had dreams — dreams beyond the tricycle-pedaling toddler. With children or others who walk alongside us, we receive grace to grow in understanding how to grieve as those who have hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We learn to cry out to the Lord (Psalm 34:6). We grieve differently, yet worship together. We understand it’s okay to be sad, and it’s okay to not be sad.
Grace transforms grief into worship when we understand our need is not for time to stop, but for the King to march us onward.
Not the End
“No, buddy, Zion is not coming back home. But we will go home to him one day.”
I had little to say as I hugged my son, overcome with fresh grief. Whether we have few words or many, we are recipients of mercy and grace when we draw near — emboldened to trust our King and walk with others, large and small, toward home.
Miscarriage is not the end. Elisabeth Elliot once said, “Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ashes” (These Strange Ashes, 11). Whether your miscarriage story is followed by a new baby in your arms or by quiet resilience, those whom we have lost for a season will be found once more. One day, we will behold the babies we never held and gaze upon the Lord over them all.