This is the third and final part to my blog series entitled “Celine’s Story”. However, it is likely not the last time I will be writing about her or my experience of stillbirth. Although I do not hold Celine in my arms today, God continues to use her to transform my relationship with Him from the inside out. She will forever be my tangible reminder of the extent of God’s grace, comfort, and sovereignty.
As I write this, it is the last week of July and my calendar reminds me that I am supposed to be in my 40th week of pregnancy with my due date being this coming Monday. However, my real due date was 14 weeks ago.
It was the Friday morning of my 26th week when an ultrasound confirmed that Celine was gone. I was asked to sign papers to agree to have myself induced for labor. I stared at the dotted line for what felt like forever. I felt like I was quitting. I cried out to the Lord and wondered where my faith had gone and why God hadn’t given me my miracle. It was then that I realized that my miracle was not going to come the way I expected. In this moment it would take more faith for me to trust God in the pain than to believe Him for a miracle. With my heart breaking and my tears flooding my vision, I mustered up all the courage I had, picked up the pen and signed my name. I decided to surrender.
I learned that Faith is sometimes Surrender.
“Father, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.” -Mark 14:36
After finally delivering Celine on Sunday morning, I fell into sedation for a few minutes. I woke up to my husband’s voice… his one hand on my shoulder, the other carrying our firstborn child. Ever since we lost her heartbeat, I had feared that moment. I didn’t know if I’d have the courage to lay eyes on my stillborn daughter. What would her body look like? Would I see pain on her face? I was afraid of what I might see. But as I looked up at her, my heart welled up with a love I cannot explain. There was no more denying that we were parents. Jon and I looked at each other full of joy knowing she was ours and she was the best thing that had ever happened to us. I held her in my arms and cradled her just as I would have if this moment were happening 3 months later. Celine’s body was fully formed and her facial features were so distinct, just as I imagined they would be. By God’s grace, He had preserved her body within my womb even though she had already been with Jesus for a few days. I carried in my arms the gift I had waited my whole life to receive. It may sound strange but although there was pain, there was also indescribable joy.
I learned that Pain and Joy can co-exist.
“There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.”– 1 Peter 1:6-7
Although from my vantage point, my due date was early, from God’s it was right on time. He knew the exact number of days in Celine’s life and He foresaw my pain. In God’s sovereignty, He allowed my daughter to lead me into a more intimate relationship with Him. Even if He did not answer the way I had hoped, He is still good and He gave purpose to my pain. While there were moments that my heart was screaming in pain, the Lord’s whisper was still louder. It was that whisper that calls us out onto the water for our faith to be tested. It was the invitation for my faith to be put through the fire and purified like gold. The Father was more concerned about my sanctification than my comfort. Although the process of purification is usually painful, it is where we encounter Jesus. Encountering Jesus is precious.
I learned that the process of Purification is Priceless.
The world we live in today can be afraid of pain, but God is certainly not. The psalmist David wrote of how God keeps track of our pain, collecting our tears into bottles, and recording them in a book. God knows our pain and He uses it for a purpose. He uses our wounded hearts to draw us to Him and allows us to experience His comfort. He pursues our hearts in their broken state and renews them so that they are better than they were before. Our pain does not have to be in vain for God is our greatest comforter and the master rebuilder of hearts.
“You keep track of all my sorrows.You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” -Psalm 56:8
I learned that God gives Purpose to Pain.