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The Baby Who Wasn’t Meant to Be

Written By Grace Tan, Singapore

“We are going to have a baby!”

My husband and I couldn’t contain our excitement that night as we told our two children I was expecting. They let out a squeal and jumped for joy when they heard the good news. My son was so excited that he went to school and told all his classmates about it the next day.

It wasn’t always this way, though. When I first suggested to my husband the idea of having another child, his immediate reaction was, “It will rock the boat.” We were very comfortable with our two children, who were seven and four at the time; they no longer required us to feed them during meals and could sleep soundly through the night. Having another child would bring us back to the days of interrupted meals and sleepless nights.

But somehow, I couldn’t get rid of the niggling feeling of wanting another child. I started to seek God and pray that if it was His will for us to have another child, He would speak to my husband. And God did, giving my husband the peace that we would be able to cope. When the pregnancy test came back positive, we were both elated and immediately told our parents and our kids.

At the six-week mark, we went to see our obstetrician for a routine check-up. She did an ultrasound scan on my uterus, and saw a big blood clot beside the gestational sac. I was asked to rest more and to return to see her in a week.

As my previous pregnancies had been smooth sailing, this was a bolt from the blue. The following days of waiting felt like years as I didn’t know what to expect, but we committed this to God as a family. Even though my husband and I were worried, we prayed with the children each night, asking God to protect the foetus; my daughter even asked her Sunday school teacher and friends to pray for me.

 

The Devastating News

One week later, our obstetrician did the scan and told us that the blood clot was gone. However, she could not see a foetus in the sac even though the sac was growing bigger. I was devastated by what she said. I had thought the only issue was with the blood clot, so I was crushed to find out that the foetus was absent all along. Once again, we were asked to return one week later for another check. My heart sank. I had to endure bad morning sickness, without any guarantee that I would eventually have a baby.

I wrestled with God during that period. There were times when I blamed God for giving me false hope and causing me to experience morning sickness even though there might not have been a foetus. There were also times when my husband and I went on our knees and prayed for God’s will to be done.

Deep down, I was questioning God, “Why, God? Why did you allow this to happen?” Our family was looking forward to welcoming another child into our lives and my children had prayed every night before going to bed that God would protect our baby. How was I going to explain to them that we weren’t going to have a baby after all?

But as I looked at my children, I began to realize that I had so much to be thankful for. God was teaching me to treasure my two precious children and not focus on what I did not have. Slowly, I began to accept the fact that we may not have a baby after all.

Through my disappointment, I felt God teaching me to trust Him in good and bad times. It’s very easy to tell others to trust in God’s sovereignty and say things like, “He is in control.” But the real test comes when we’re struck by bad news. Do we truly believe that God is good all the time, with not just our heads but our hearts as well?

One week passed, and the day finally came when the obstetrician told us that there was no baby in the sac. I was diagnosed to have a blighted ovum (also known as an early pregnancy failure), which is a common cause of miscarriage. This happens when a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo does not develop. I didn’t know how to feel when I heard the final diagnosis. The news was a final closure to the weeks of agony, yet I couldn’t help but bewail the loss of my “child”.

 

Processing Grief

We decided to go through a natural abortion and wait for the miscarriage to happen instead of going through surgery. I spent the next few days crying in bed; my heart was filled with immense grief.

Through this difficult time, I was surrounded by support and love from family and friends—my concerned helper changed my blood-stained sheets without any questions, my mum cooked tonics for me and helped to look after my children, and my mother-in-law prayed with me.

As I cried out to God to reveal His purposes for this, God led me to listen to a podcast by American pastor Timothy Keller that spoke of the unwavering faith of three men. In Daniel 3:16-18, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were going to be thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to bow down to the image of gold set up by King Nebuchadnezzar.

When they were brought before the king, they replied, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ”

In my moment of grief, I felt like I had been thrown into a fiery furnace. God could have delivered me from the furnace by giving me a healthy baby, but He did not. Like these three men, I had to decide: Would I continue to worship Him with unwavering faith, or would I now walk away from my faith and bow down to other gods?

A few months after the miscarriage, I brought my children to the zoo. On the way there, it threatened to rain. I asked my children to pray for God to hold the rain, if it was in His will. My son answered, “Mummy, God has always answered our prayers, except once.” I was taken aback and asked when it was. He replied, “When we lost baby, Mummy. Sometimes God says ‘Yes’, sometimes He says ‘No’, and sometimes, ‘Wait’, but we know that all things happen for our good, right, Mummy?”

Tears started to stream down my face as I continued to drive. I said to God, “Lord, You worked through this trial. You spoke to my children and built faith in them.” God was teaching me to see the bigger picture in life, that I should not fix my eyes on the present, the trials and the pain, but live my life with eternity in mind. Sometimes, God’s answer might not be what we desire, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t love us. He loves us all the same, because He has given us His only Son.

 

Now, three years later, I have three beautiful children. God provided when we decided to try again for a child. A friend said it would take great faith to try for a child again after a miscarriage, but we decided to do it and trust God to provide. We named him Josiah, which means “Jehovah has healed”.

God provided when the time was right for us. My prayer is that in all things, we will continue to trust in His perfect plan and in His perfect timing.

I love this quote from American author Ann Voskamp: “Sometimes God takes us into the wilderness not to abandon us but because He wants to be alone with us.” God did not abandon me when the storm came, but He brought me into a deeper intimacy with Him as I went in search for answers through the reading of His Word.

I need to prepare my family for the storms that are sure to come. We need to spend time in the Bible and strengthen our relationships with a godly community, so that when (not if) the storms strike, we will have shelter.

4 Reasons Why Not Knowing Our Future Is Good

Written By Ruth Lawrence, UK

My sister does this thing that drives me bonkers. She will take a book and, rather than reading it from start to finish, she will skip around the chapters, often reading the last page first. She says that it takes the stress out of reading the book if she knows how it will end.

I might hate to do that with a book, but I would love to do that with life. It’s for the exact same reason my sister reads a book from the end: I dislike the feelings of stress and uncertainty. When I was in school, I wished that I could be certain that I would pass all my exams and be settled in a job in 10 years’ time. Then I could sit back, relax, and just enjoy studying (yes, I am a geek).

To combat day-to-day uncertainty, I make lists and plan my day so that I know how I will be spending every single minute. No second goes unaccounted for. Wasted time makes me feel terrible because it can never be got back, and one thought that always goes through my mind is this: What if I’ve failed to do something that will be really important in the future? For example, would I have a novel published by now if I had spent more time working hard on writing it?

As you can imagine, living like this isn’t really sustainable. Things come up and plans have to change (Proverbs 16:9). There’s no way I can come up with a plan that will take into account every possible life event.

While I was writing one of my many lists one day, I started to think about why I was so desperate to control things. One of the reasons that surfaced after some time of honest reflection was that I didn’t really trust that God was in control. I thought that I could control things if I planned and did things in a certain way. Essentially, I wanted to be God. Being patient and trusting that God knows what He is doing is not easy.

But the reality is that I am powerless to control things. I can’t stop illnesses, deaths, or disasters. All I can do is manage my own response to such events. And even that requires me to seek God’s help on how to respond well and deal with what life throws at me.

Coming to terms with my own limitations and weaknesses has helped me to see more clearly why not knowing the future is a good idea.

Here are three reasons (in list form!):

 

1. Knowing the future is overwhelming.

If we knew everything that was ever going to happen to us, we might not want to keep on living. For me, that involved going to university. There were many things that happened in those three years that I did not enjoy, and if I’d known about all of them before I started, I would never have dared to take that step.

But those were experiences that I needed to go through in order to grow, and God used them all. For a little while after I graduated, I was able to help new students who were trying to adjust to life away from home. Thankfully, God kindly reveals His plans to us one step at a time, along with all that we need for each day as it comes. Only He is able to handle knowing everything, and His plan is infinitely better than any one that we can come up with ourselves. Colossians 1 describes what Jesus has done for us and how He is completely in control. Whenever I feel worried, I read that chapter; it gives me confidence that nothing that happens to me is a surprise to Jesus. It tells me that He has a plan and that He is good.

 

2. Not knowing the future can deepen our walk with God

God did not create us to be self-sufficient but to be dependent on Him. When we don’t know what will happen in our lives, we learn to trust Him—not ourselves or our resources.

God isn’t being mean by holding back information so that we will be forced to trust Him. Instead, He’s giving us opportunities to experience the goodness of His faithfulness and wisdom. Because I don’t know what’s coming, I can go to God and tell Him what I am worried about and leave it with Him. Taking everything to God like this can deepen my relationship with Him by causing me to explore His character and learning to trust Him.

At the end of the day, we can rest assured in God’s plans: His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not the same as ours (Isaiah 55:5-9).

 

3. Not knowing the future makes me recall God’s goodness

Not knowing what is coming next allows us to focus on what we do know—that God is good and faithful, and that He gives good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:9-11).

In Matthew 6, Jesus taught that sparrows do not worry about what they will eat because God takes care of them. His point is that if God cares so much for birds and plants, what more us? He doesn’t just know the future; He has planned it and made sure that everything we need is there for us.

We might not know the details of how our life will pan out, but we can be secure in the knowledge that God does, and that He has our best interests at heart. As I think back to 10 years ago when I was setting off to university and wondering where I would be in 10 years’ time, I can see how God has taken care of me and provided for me throughout. Not only did I pass all my exams, but I am now working in a non-profit organization, and I think my 18-year-old self would be surprised by it!

Looking back and seeing what God has done gives me confidence that for the next 10, 20, or however many years are ahead of me, He will keep on providing for me, probably in ways that I don’t expect. And it’s okay that I don’t know how it will all work out, because God does.

 

With that, what should now be at the top of my to-do list each day is a reminder that God is in control (even when it feels like He isn’t), and that having to change one of my plans is not the end of the world (because God already knows it’s going to happen).

Knowing everything isn’t the answer. It can’t deepen my walk with God or teach me about His character. It won’t even help me deal with the things life throws my way. What is worth knowing is who God is, and that knowledge leading to trust is what will help me navigate the future. It’s much more reliable than any to-do list or plan.

Learning About FOMO from Lot’s Wife

Written By Deborah Fox, Australia

I have a confession to make. I have to Google half the new words I come across these days. If you’re an eighties baby like me, you can probably identify with this.

Teenagers in the group I help lead at church are always confusing me with phrases and acronyms I’ve never heard of before. They seem to just pick up new terminology in their sleep. Words that are so “lit” they gain “respeck” from your new “bae” for being so “fleek”. (Need a translation? It’s ok, there’s an app for that).

When the acronym “FOMO” came out a few years ago, I gasped at the realization that this word—used to describe the anxiety of missing out on something great—was actually a fairly accurate description of my own “fear of missing out”.

When I miss out on tickets to a Bon Jovi concert, major FOMO. When my favorite coffee shop around the corner closes for renovations (you know, the one which uses locally roasted, specialty beans, and the perfect barista blend of almond milk), yeah, massive FOMO. Seeing girls 10 times younger than me getting married and having kids—you guessed it, FOMO to the max. FOMO is actually a pretty common experience, regardless of age, gender, culture, or ethnicity.

Why do we get so worked up about missing out on something? Is it that we feel entitled to experiencing everything good in the world? I think Lot’s wife has something to say about that.

In Genesis 19, we see Abram (Abraham), Sarai (Sarah), and Lot all running for their lives as the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah are being destroyed. They had been given clear instructions from the angels of the Lord not to turn around—but Lot’s wife could not help looking back.

Perhaps she was saddened by her current situation. Maybe she thought she would return to the cities one day, and everything would go back to the way it was. But she was so wrapped up in the past that she missed the work that God was doing right then and there. She did not obey the words of the Lord, and paid the price for her disobedience with her life.

Thankfully, God hasn’t turned me into a pillar of salt yet (although the idea of petrification does scare me from time to time!). But I think there’s something to learn from the example of Lot’s wife, and it is this: There is nothing to gain from looking back to the past, even if the future is filled with uncertainty. The only way to progress is to keep moving forward.

When we’re stuck on the hamster wheel of regret, we get caught up in unhelpful thoughts. We’re unable to move forward into the good things God is doing and will do in the future. Rather than focusing on the mistakes we’ve made or the things we feel we are missing in our lives, we need to trust in the One who holds eternity in the palm of His hand.

There may be things in my life I feel I am missing, but I know that I have the ultimate treasure—Jesus. Many of my friends and family members have not yet welcomed Him into their hearts. The one thing I don’t want to regret is knowing that someone I love has missed out on the gift of eternal life.

In the end, the only thing that really matters is that we point to Christ and make Him known. There is nothing worse than missing out on a loving and forgiving Savior. Think about how you can positively affect someone’s future both now and for eternity. Because, you know, YOLO.

Learning to Face Death from Nabeel Qureshi

Photo by Nabeel Qureshi

“It’s a little unsettling to watch the vlog of someone who knows he’s about to die,” I remember telling my mother after watching what would be Nabeel Qureshi’s second last video blog on YouTube just last week.

In it, the Pakistani-American Muslim-turned-Christian apologist spoke about his final stages of life and how he was receiving palliative care.

Still, both of us were shocked by how quickly the 34-year-old’s passing came. The popular itinerant speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) died on Saturday, 16 September, after a year-long battle with stomach cancer. He leaves behind his wife, Michelle, and two-year-old daughter, Aya.

As tributes poured in for Nabeel over the weekend, I found myself saddened by his death and wondering why God took him at such a young age, when he was still so active, effective, and passionate in ministry.

I first heard about Nabeel two years ago when a friend told me about his book, Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward. Reading his book, I was struck by how thoughtfully and objectively he had presented the facts about Islam and Christianity.

As I started reading up more about him and watching his videos, I was moved by Nabeel’s deep conviction and commitment to the gospel despite what it cost him, and heartened that God had raised such a brilliant and articulate person to reach the masses—in particular the Muslim community—for Him. Months later, I saw the heartbreaking news on Nabeel’s Facebook page: he had advanced stomach cancer, and the prognosis was grim.

As I’ve been following his progress intermittently since then, his death, though imminent and expected, still feels sudden and surreal. But the legacy that he has left behind—and the lives he has impacted during his short 34 years on earth—is unquestionable. Being just a couple of years younger than him, I cannot help but think about my own life and wonder about the kind of legacy I would leave behind one day.

One of the things about Nabeel that has deeply impacted me was how he faced death. Unlike many others, he had the privilege of knowing and preparing for his last days on earth. Even up till his last days, he was still uploading video clips testifying about Jesus. Perhaps, however, being able to stare at death in the face was a little overwhelming—even for a man of great faith like him.

I remember watching his second last vlog and thinking that he sounded almost discouraged and despondent; he seemed to be really struggling to accept that God may not eventually heal him. This both surprised and encouraged me.

It surprised me, because I had assumed that he would be 100 percent settled in his heart by this time, that his time was drawing to a close. But it also encouraged me, because his complete honesty about his desire to be healed showed how even great men of faith had their “moments”. But, finally, it is what he said at the end of the video—without any hint of bitterness in his voice—that I would always remember: “But if it shouldn’t be Your will, Your sovereign will at the end of the day, then I trust You, and I love You anyway . . .”

And I believe that that is exactly how Nabeel would want all those who are grieving over his death to respond: to completely trust God and love God regardless of the outcome. May Nabeel’s life and death inspire us to devote our lives to Jesus for the rest of our days, so that like the Apostle Paul and Nabeel, we can say with confidence at the end of our lives, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7)

 

Read author’s follow-up article: Crying Over Nabeel Qureshi