As the days inch closer and closer to Owen's Heaven day (next Monday) and his 5th birthday (next Thursday), stillbirth is on my mind even more than usual. I feel such a weight of grief and sadness that is so palpable but so hard to verbalize. If you ask me how I'm doing, I very well may cry and have no words to offer. But that's just how it is sometimes (and please do still ask).
I wrote the words below about a year and a half ago. It was in response to a sermon I heard almost four years ago that hurt on a deep deep level. I couldn't hear what my pastor was saying because of the pain the word stillbirth causes me. But it was (is) an important message, and one that God was faithful to let sink in even if it did take six months to hear.
This post has been on my mind lately though it's been over a year and a half since I wrote it.
After sitting through (well, almost all the way through) the sermon, I still had no idea what our pastor was trying to say and when I wrote that post, my stomach was still in knots. The following fall, Chris led a small group and chose 1 Peter as the book we would delve into and discuss. Guess what is in this particular book?
Yes, birth. Again.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in Heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 1 Peter 1: 3-5
I asked Chris what passage our pastor used for his sermon, and neither of us can remember, but it may very well be that he used this particular passage too. Chris said he turned 'off' just like I did when the word stillbirth came our of our pastor's mouth.
But I can say with great certainty that I now understand what our pastor was trying to say (and maybe everyone else in the church got the meaning right away, but for Chris and I, we had such a strong emotional and physical reaction to the symbolism that it was extremely hard to listen).
It clicked that Wednesday night at small group. I remember the feeling I had when I finally understood the infamous birth sermon. It was such sweet relief.
Chris asked us why it's so important to be born again and why that language is being used in 1 Peter. Now, I'm not usually a big talker during bible study discussions, believe it or not. I'm not a big talker in general, unless it's one on one or if I'm really comfortable with the group of people. But I couldn't not say anything. I don't remember the exact words I used, but I remember recounting how I felt when our pastor did the sermon on birth and stillbirth. Then the tears welled up in my eyes and I said (not verbatim) it's so important because though we don't see it or realize it, we're all stillborn. Spiritually speaking, we have been born into death and we need a re-birth, a live birth into life.
Stillbirth, in a spiritual sense, is just as heartbreaking (and greatly even more so because it is an eternal death) as the stillbirth we've experienced with our Owen. Birth into death is not how it's supposed to be. We were made to live, to be born living and breathing. Faith in Jesus gives us the spiritual re-birth that we all desperately need. And when we are born again, living and breathing, we have the great living hope of Jesus who was resurrected from the dead. God gives us salvation from this broken world through him.
We have such great hope.
And even stillbirth, a disgusting and vile abomination, can be used to point us to that great hope. Months and months later, I'm thankful to the Lord for the infamous sermon that caused so much hurt and sadness. I'm thankful for redemption.