When Hope Dies

The room was that bland shade of off-white. Sterile, except for the mobile hanging from the ceiling that mimicked a group of small butterflies. The typical cabinets, sink, and wall full of brochures that everyone looks at but never anticipates needing. It was there we waited. Waiting to “discuss our options,” whatever that really meant. All we knew was that at one time we had hope and excitement. Now there we sat, hopeless and deflated on the verge of tears filled with the same questions anyone asks, “How could this happen? Why would God do this?”

We were planning to announce shortly after Christmas, as not to take any attention away from the miracle of the incarnation. We thought it was the polite thing to do. I mean, we wanted to make sure that we were not infringing on the excitement of Christ coming into the world with the announcement that we were expecting our second child. We were excited, joyful, glad that our memories and worries of complications had disappeared with the birth of our first daughter, our rainbow baby. But there we sat, in that sterile room, looking at the butterflies hanging suspended from the ceiling, as if they were stopped in time. I could still remember the taste of the celebratory scotch on my tongue. So, there we sat, waiting to discuss our options of how to “evacuate the pregnancy,” since our baby no longer had a beating heart. 

As I sat there, holding my wife’s hand, time seemed to slow down. My mind wandered back. My memory took me back to the living room, as my wife tells me Nora will be a big sister. I jump up off the couch and hug her, smiling, feeling that frightening joy of new life. I pour a glass of “the good stuff” (Lagavulin 16) as we sit and start to plan this new phase of life for our family. Going from a family of 3 to a family of 4. We tell our parents that they are having another grandchild. We tell our siblings that they will have another niece or nephew. We tell Nora that she is going to be a big sister. We start talking about our hopes; we hope Nora is a good big sister, we hope we can handle another kid, we hope that our baby is a good sleeper, we hope that our baby is healthy.

Well, a week after Thanksgiving, we were blindsided by the unexpected. The child we had fallen in love with, the child we had so many hopes for, died. The life that we were anticipating, vanished. So, there we sat in that bland room. Where we once felt so much joy, our hearts were crushed. Where there was so much hope, now there was only pain and grief. There were questioning cries of “Why!?” Scars once healed, torn open to bleed once again. Kara and I have three children, two of whom only the Lord knows. These are our hopes that have died. 

It might seem strange that just before Christmas, I write about miscarriage. Yet currently, I find it quite fitting. Christmas is a beautiful time of year with all the lights, frosting, and cheery music. But deep-down, people from all over come bearing their hopes and fears of all the years… and they are all met on Christmas night. We all have hopes that have died. We all have hopes that have now turned into fears. Those painful wounds that have since scarred, but occasionally break open. We have all been cut when our hope has died, and God has seemingly stayed silent in our suffering and grief. 

But God is not silent. God does not remain distant from those He loves, from those He cares for, and from those He has created. Instead, He comes to us. He lives among us. He walks with us. He becomes the hope of the whole world. All of those who followed him, who cried His name, who clung to His robe, who learned from His teaching saw him and knew that Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the son of Joseph and Mary, was their hope. He would be the one who comes and finally ends their suffering. He would be the one who comes to end it all, the Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He was the great beacon of hope. Yet, we all know that was not the case for those who walked with him, for those who hoped in him. We know that the hope of Christ was extinguished when he hung dead on a cross. Their hope, the hope of freedom, their hope that their suffering would soon end. Their hope died with His last breath. Their hope died when the Son of God’s beating heart stood silent. When Jesus cried out to His Father, and His Father stayed silent. 

In that moment it may have seemed as if all hopes were dashed and extinguished as the earth turned black. It may have seemed as if all the hopes of the generations past and to come were dead. Maybe, this is how you feel, dear Christian, now. That grief and sorrow are too much to bear. That whatever hope you had, be it a child or something else, has died, and right now God seems silent. Yet, God did not stay silent. 

For we know of one baby who has died. We know of one beating heart that was stopped, and we know of one that has been raised back to life. His name is Jesus. It is by His resurrection, His being brought back to life that we know the outcome for us and those who we love. It is because of this we have hope. It does not by any means make any suffering in life easier. It does not keep the tears from running down our faces, but it gives us a true and certain hope of what is to come that is not dead but alive. One day, we will all live; including the saints who have passed on before us as well as the babies that never took their first breath, when Christ returns to make all things new. When Christ, the Babe of Bethlehem, the Child, the Man who died was raised from the dead, He gave you something to hope for. So, while our hopes may die, Christ, the ultimate hope, lives.

Merry Christmas.