How grief can be transforming

Are you grieving right now? Or do you know someone who is?

If so, this might seem like an impossibility right now – a pipe dream, an empty sentiment, a distant, far-off reality, or just some nonsense words on a page.

I mean, when miscarriage and grief first entered my story, the heart-break felt all-consuming. And the sheer suggestion that it could somehow become transformational sent me spiralling into a blind rage.

Because when a loss is still very recent and the pain of it still very raw, it can be hard to see past it. It can be hard to see anything beyond where you are today.

But I am so thankful for the people in my life who encouraged me to push beyond my pain, to seek out the hope for healing, and to discover the possibility of transformation, which existed on the other side.

So just stick with me here for a while, and let me explain …

Blessed are those who mourn

Psalm 34: 18 says that ‘’The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit’.

And in Matthew 5: 4, Jesus himself said that, ‘Blessed are those who mourn or grieve, for they will be comforted’.

But the truth is that I never really understood these verses at all, until miscarriage entered into my story. I mean, what could possibly be ‘blessed’ about going through heartbreaking loss?

Perhaps there’s some small comfort to be found by the kindness of a stranger in a moment of tragedy, or some fresh hope to be found in the unconditional and unwaivering love and support of your closest family and friends.

But is there ever really enough kindness or goodness in the aftermath of the tragedy of loss, that it can actually turn someone’s suffering into a blessing?

For what it’s worth, I really don’t think so…

Can grief really be a blessing?

After walking through this experience of grieving after miscarriage, not just once but twice in a six month period, this question is something that I’ve been forced to wrestle with a lot.

And I think that perhaps the blessing comes not from the grieving process itself, but rather from the opportunity that this kind of suffering can invite into our lives.

Because what I have discovered is that as we actually invite God to draw near to us in our brokenness, and allow Him to meet us right in the centre of our sadness and heartbreak, something kind of miraculous and unexplainable happens…

The truth is that there is a great healing to be discovered through choosing to draw close to ‘the God of all comfort’, and discovering that the God of all comfort is drawing near to you too.

So maybe the ‘blessing’ is being able to experience ‘the God of all comfort’ in a much deeper, fuller, and richer way in your life – in a way that only those who have walked the path of grief with Him can ever really know.

A blessing multiplied

What’s more, it’s a blessing that can be multiplied in time as well. Because often there’s a new compassion and empathy for others who walk that path of personal pain, that only enters into your life after walking it yourself first.

For example, I know that there’s absolutely no way that I would ever have considered writing such a personal blog about my struggles with miscarriage, fertility and faith, in order to help others through their pain, if I hadn’t lived through all of this heartbreak myself first.

Transformation is a choice

However, I want to qualify all this by adding that it isn’t an automatic given that pain will become a positive or transformational force in our lives.

Encountering seasons of pain is a certainty that will come to all of us at various times, but the transformational part is a choice. Because it depends on what we choose to do with our pain.

And the question is: will we allow God to enter into our pain, will give Him with all the broken pieces of our hearts, and trust Him to heal, redeem, and make something altogether new with those parts?

His promise is that He works all things for our good:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8: 28)

However, it’s always our choice whether we allow Him to work in our lives.

Song of Songs 8: 5, puts it like this: ‘Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?’

And to me, this speaks of discovering a fresh intimacy with God that can only really be fostered in that wilderness place, as you choose to learn to lean into God in a deeper way through it.

Miscarriage is not a part of God’s will

I absolutely want to highlight this point too. Because although I believe all that I have said above about how our pain can become transforming if we only allow God to work through it, that doesn’t mean that I believe He is the author of our suffering.

So let me say this again, very clearly: I really don’t believe miscarriage – or any other form of baby loss – is ever a part of God’s will or plan for you.

Of course, I know that God is sovereign over everything, and that He can bring out of anything at all. After all, it repeatedly says so in His word.

But trusting God to bring good from even the most terrible circumstances in our lives and to make our pain transformative, is simply not the same as believing that He planned, willed or intended it to happen to us, just to ‘teach us’ something.

I know that a lot of christians can make these kinds of broad, sweeping and well-intended comments and statements about pain. But honestly, I think it’s mostly just really lazy theology.

Could a God of perfect love also be the source of our horrific pain and suffering? Could the author of a life, also be the destroyer of that same life? And could a good God give you the gift of a brand new life, just to snatch it away from you again a few weeks later?

I mean, how could that possibly be so?

It simply doesn’t match what the Bible says about who God is. And it doesn’t even make any sense …

The truth is that miscarriage is often unexplained and we simply don’t know what causes it to happen.

But what we do know for sure is that God is not the source of pain or sickness or suffering or death in this world; rather, it is the enemy of our souls, who comes to kill, steal and destroy.

A saviour who draws nears

It probably goes without saying, that I would never have chosen miscarriage to be a part of my story. But I also know that if I had never walked through this sadness, disappointment and loss, there would be parts of God’s character that I would never have experienced either.

He is not a God who only sympathises with our pain – He is a God who relates, who understands, and who choose to draw near.

And in times of grief don’t we each need to know and be connected to the One who has walked the path of pain before us, and intimately knows each and every wound?

The truth is that we follow a saviour who knows the path of suffering far better than we do, and He is simply holding out His hand asking each of us to follow Him through it.

And that’s how – in time – your deepest sadness and grief – really can become transformational.

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