Infertility, miscarriage and the loss of a child are heart-wrenching and deeply emotional. Thankfully, God’s love and inspired words can comfort us.
When I was young, the love story of Jacob and Rachel gripped my heart. Oh, to find the love of your life and wait patiently seven years until you could be married—only to have a switch made on the wedding night!
Can you imagine the heartache?
In actuality, the situation was distressing all the way around. Leah may have been married to Jacob first, but Rachel held the keys to his heart. Surely, Leah must have seen her husband’s passionate drive as he worked tirelessly for his father-in-law to earn his second daughter’s hand.
In Genesis 29:31, we read that God saw that Jacob did not love Leah. So, He had compassion on Leah and opened her womb. She conceived and bore a son. And then another son. And another.
Rachel’s heartache was different from Leah’s.
Even though she had Jacob’s love and devotion, Rachel was infertile.
Give me children, or else I die!
After Leah conceived her fourth son with Jacob, Rachel’s grief reached the lowest depths. In Genesis 30:1, we learn that she envied her sister and cried out to Jacob, saying, “Give me children, or else I die!”
Let’s unpack this.
Time after time, Rachel had endured watching her sister go through the stages of pregnancy and birth, such as the happy revelations of conception, a growing abdomen, childbirth, breastfeeding and the endearing coos and bonds that grow between mother, child and father.
Please know that God doesn’t forget you, and He never will. God does remember you!No doubt Rachel questioned why she was unable to get pregnant. After all, she and her sister had the same parents and genetics. Rachel couldn’t even blame Jacob since he obviously could father children. Above all was the complication that her sister was bearing children with her husband! That had to compound her jealousy.
If you’re reading this and have experienced a barren womb or an empty womb after losing a baby by miscarriage, I’m guessing you can relate to Rachel’s depth of pain.
And God remembered Rachel
Fast-forward 21 verses, and we read, “God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb” (verse 22).
If we jump to verse 22, we miss out on the fact that so much life happened between verses 1 and 22:
- Jacob got mad at Rachel for blaming her infertility on him.
- Rachel took matters into her own hands and gave Jacob her maid to bear children in her name—twice!
- Leah decided to up the ante and did the same with her maid—twice!
- Leah gave birth to two more sons.
- Leah gave birth to a daughter.
God has taken away my reproach
It wasn’t until after all those events that God opened Rachel’s womb, and she finally conceived and bore a son, saying, “God has taken away my reproach” (verse 23).
“Reproach” is defined as a disappointment or disgrace. I believe that Rachel felt both frustration and humiliation during those painful years. Just look at the words she spat out and the actions she displayed!
The depths of disappointment can be devastating when dealing with a miscarriage or infertility. You think about what should have been and what could have been. You try to find fault—but there’s no one to blame. Sometimes all you’re left with are feelings of disgrace.
In Rachel’s case, her reproach and disappointment eventually turned to joy with the conception and birth of Joseph. Yet it could not take away the pain and agony of the years that led to it.
And there are times when the loss of a child through miscarriage or an empty, barren womb is never filled with the joy of birth. And the reality is that even when a child’s joyous conception and birth occurs after a loss, we can still feel the unspeakable pain of the loss.
We love the gift of life while we still mourn the loss.
God always remembers
Here comes the encouraging part of this story. Let’s focus on the first part of verse 22: “God remembered Rachel.”
He didn’t forget her, and He never left her. God remembered Rachel!
Remembering means to take note of, or to bring someone to mind and make provision for. When we lose a child, our world can feel empty and alone. We mourn that our role as a mother or father could never be realized for that child.
And yet, eventually there can be comfort, in that God remembers and is aware of every detail. He takes note of our pain. He brings us to mind and makes provision for us. We have to remember that He knows the bigger picture.
God remembers all of us who have lost a child or never been able to have a child. When we need encouragement, we can read the story of three biblical women God remembered during their time of emptiness:
- Rachel (Genesis 30:22).
- Sarah (Genesis 21:1-2).
- Hannah (1 Samuel 2:21).
If I may speak candidly for a moment, let’s talk about the loneliness you may be feeling. During my first year of marriage, my husband and I dealt with a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy and loss at three months. For the next eight years, we dealt with half a dozen more ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. Those were hard times that included hormones, grief, moments of joy and more moments of despair.
I must admit that I carried the burden deeply by myself for much of it. It took a gentle conversation initiated by my husband, where he shared how he felt as deeply as I did. In his words, “They were my babies too.”
Those words opened my eyes, and our marriage bond was strengthened deeply.
Sadly, some marriages do not survive such intense grief. Sadly, many couples may not have a strong circle of support among family, friends and church circles. In my experience, the reality is that grief can be a hurdle many are not comfortable with or able to attempt to get past. Often, people are at a loss for what to say. As a result, loneliness is often a brutal reality.
If you are caught deep in a cycle of grief that seems too impossible to climb out of, please talk to someone.
More than three decades later, my husband and I are still childless, and the window to bear children is long past. We feel strengthened by knowing, without a doubt, that our Great and Wonderful God knew our grief and strengthened us. We know He has a bigger plan and is aware of every detail. He didn’t forget us, and He never left us.
Please know that God doesn’t forget you, and He never will. God does remember you!
Comforting scriptures for dealing with loss
For those times when you may be feeling down and discouraged, these scriptures can bring strength to you. Bookmark these. Write them in a journal. Highlight them in your Bible. Feed on them as often as needed.
- Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Jesus says to lay our heavy burdens on Him, and He will give us rest.
- Psalm 34:18: “The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” God is near to the brokenhearted and those who feel crushed.
- Psalm 147:3: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” God heals and binds up our griefs.
- Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God will strengthen us and help us.
- Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Let God comfort you in your deep sorrow.
- Psalm 23:4: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Let God’s compassion and concern comfort you. Remind Him of your need!
Hang in there!
You may also be interested in these related Life, Hope & Truth articles to help deal with loss:
- Why Did God Let Jessica Die?
- Dealing With Infertility.
- Miscarriage: The Day We Lost Our Baby.
- How to Deal With Grief.
- Why Does God Allow Suffering?
- Is There Life After Death?