3.14.2017

Remembering our son, Matthew.

When I held our son Matthew after he was delivered eleven years ago, his entire body fit inside my hand. He weighed only fourteen ounces and measured about eight inches long. So tiny, so fragile - and so silent.
Babies are supposed to cry when they are born. They are supposed to wiggle and squirm until they are quieted by the soft voice and life-giving source of their mother. But when a baby is delivered without breath, without life ... there is no sound. There is just silence.
Soon, however, the air fills with the hushed voices of the nurses as they do what must be done, the tender words of a husband seeking to console his grieving wife, and the sobs of the mother who weeps for her baby that is no more.

The pain and sorrow of the day Matthew was delivered have long since passed, but the memories have not.
Gentle nurses.
Praying friends.
Visitors ministering to my aching heart.
A sister who would not leave my bedside.
A faithful friend who wiped away every tear, including her own.
A husband who felt helpless and scared, but bravely and tenderly served and loved me every moment we were in that room.
And a God who kept His promise never to leave me or forsake me, for I felt His presence every hour.

The overwhelming ache of death and loss have gone away, but the memories remain.
And I pray they always will.

Every time I sit on my couch with a woman who has suffered a miscarriage or a stillbirth ...
Every time I respond to an e-mail from a woman reaching out for encouragement and support after her own loss ...
Every time someone asks me how to minister to a woman who has lost a baby ...
I want to REMEMBER the pain - the sorrow - the agony - and the grief.
If I don't remember, I cannot join her in her pain, and that is exactly what I want to do.
Anyone can listen. Anyone can pray. Anyone can give a hug. Anyone can cry.
But only those who have walked the same path of suffering understand. And understanding is exactly what these women seek in the darkness of their despair.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 
For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort tooII Corinthians 1:3-5

I had no idea when I sat on that hospital bed over a decade ago that I would be part of a miscarriage ministry that reaches hundreds of women. I had no idea I would meet women from all over the world who cry in the middle of the night in the safety of their closet ... fear they will never have another child ... feel like no one understands what they are feeling or thinking, or wants to ... are afraid to tell anyone what they are really thinking ... wonder if anyone will remember a baby they have never met ... are shocked when someone asks, "Why are you still crying about this?"... and hate Mother's Day. Just like I did.
What I did know, without the tiniest bit of doubt, was that losing Matthew was not about me. Millions of women before me had buried babies, and millions after me would do the same. "This has to be bigger than me, Lord! It HAS to be bigger than me!" I repeated those words over and over in the darkness of my hospital room.
Before He could use me to comfort others, however, He had to comfort my own heart first. And He did so faithfully, with compassion and grace, until I was able to use my own sorrow to serve other women who found themselves weeping through the night for the babies they would never know.

How grateful I am to belong to a God who always fulfills His promises, and meets us where we are. Especially in our deepest grief.

Let Your steadfast love comfort me according to Your promise to Your servant. Psalm 119:76

This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me life. Psalm 119:50

But praise Him! He doesn't leave us there!

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. Psalm 23

Thank You, Lord, for the dark valleys, because without them we would never appreciate the splendor and beauty of the mountaintop view. You are a God who gives and takes away, and while we may never understand the "why" we can know the Who, and choose to give thanks in everything because it is Your will. For Your glory - and for our good. Thank You for the gift of our son, Matthew Isaac Eastman. He was our precious son when he was in my womb, he was our precious son when we held him in our arms for those few hours, and he is our precious son still because he was created by Your hand, for Your purpose, and for the days You appointed. I have never been the same since the day I delivered Him, Lord. Thank You. You used his brief life to change us, and I know You are not finished with us yet. Matthew's life was not in vain - and for this truth, I am forever grateful. You are a good God whether You give or take away, and sometimes we see You best when You take away. Thank You for being an ever-constant, ever-faithful God. I love You. 

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