Successful pregnancies do not come easily in growing numbers of Christian homes today. The problem leaves a lot of godly women in our churches hurting and a lot of other godly women wondering how to minister to the hurting. It’s hard to describe the hurt a woman feels when she longs to have a child and learns that there is no pregnancy month after month or that she has had a miscarriage. Sometimes there is no medical explanation.
At other times, husbands and wives are given the news that having a child will be nothing short of a miraculous act of God. While the hurting couple rejoice in the news of other pregnancies in the church, they struggle to understand why God is allowing this difficulty in their lives. I can still remember my wife, Kim, and I counseling a promiscuous 14-year-old about her pregnancy and the trouble she was having with the 12-year-old father. Kim had just experienced her first of four miscarriages, and we went home that night wondering “why” and shedding many tears before the Lord.
Many miscarriages take place during the first trimester when the deceased child has no name. When miscarriage takes place, many believers feel awkward in knowing how to respond. In the days following the miscarriage, most women overcome the awkwardness and offer prayers, flowers, cards, food, and words of comfort. These expressions of love are greatly used of the Lord. In the weeks following the miscarriage, some women who suffer miscarriage are still hurting inside. Other believers may be tempted to feel that these hurting women should just “get over it,” but their recovery is often not as easy as that.
Earlier this year, Kim and I sat in the doctor’s office and watched the ultrasound of the newest little member of the Roof family growing in Kim’s womb. We rejoiced in the Lord with tears of joy as we marveled at the beauty of God’s creative power. But a week later, we sat in the doctor’s office and watched another ultrasound. We immediately knew there was no life in this little member of the Roof family. Though we had been through this experience three times before, this one had a very saddening effect on us that continues to this today. The tears we shed at that last ultrasound still well up within us from time to time, even months later. We believe we are right with the Lord. We praise His name, seek His face, read His word, and trust Him with all of our hearts. But we are still sometimes overcome with grief over this loss. Many other couples have had the same experience.
We are fortunate in that God graciously gave us three children between the third and fourth miscarriages. Many godly women in our churches have never been able to become pregnant. When these dear ones express their pain, we can say silly things in the midst of the awkwardness that hurt instead of help. In fact, the church can become the last place where they want to speak about their pain.
Ministering to women with pregnancy problems does not need to be complicated. Remember, 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “Love never fails.” Though no statement or action can take away a women’s pain, a simple “I love you” means a lot. Some women don’t know what to say to the woman who is hurting, so they stay away. But the last thing a hurting woman needs is to feel alienated from other women in the church. Remember that Romans 12:15 says we are to “rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Sharing in their sorrow is not a sin. In fact, it means a lot. Finally, remember what Galatians 6:2 says. We should “bear one another’s burdens,” not belittle them. Simple application of passages like these is sufficient to help us minister to this group of hurting people in our churches.For the past 14 years, Pastor Joe Roof has served God as the senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church (Albany, NY).
He is also involved in area church planting and serves on several nationwide ministry boards. He graduated from Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC) with a B.A. in Bible in 1990 and an M.A. in Bible in 1991. He has been married to Kim for 15 years, and God has given them three children with one on the way.