Living Faith: God’s role in miscarriage considered
[The following column was printed in The Forum newspaper, on Oct. 26 2013. Reprinted with permission.]
By Roxane B. Salonen
In Sunday’s opinion section, the essay, “Surely God plays role in miscarriages,” caught my attention. As both a believer in God and a mother who has experienced miscarriage, I wanted to respond.
The writer was referencing a recent cover article on the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil taking place near the abortion facility downtown. He posed that if the faithful really believe God to be omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, then God has taken more lives through miscarriage than humans have through abortion.
The writer seems to assume that believers who have gone through miscarriage wouldn’t have grappled with tough questions, including why God would will their child to die.
Certainly, when we lost our third child in utero, I wondered about God’s role. Since I do believe in God’s omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent qualities, it didn’t make sense to me that God would set a life in motion only to yank it away.
If true, God had just played a cruel joke on our family, as if to say, “Here, I’m giving you this gift” and then, “Oops, just kidding.”
And so during my own grieving and questioning, I returned to what I know most about God, which is that God is the giver of life. Without God, none of us would be here. And I believe that the gift of life in every circumstance – even the imperfect ones – is an infinitely precious thing.
Though we can know much about God, in large part God’s ways remains a mystery. But I don’t plan on turning this into a cop-out. There’s an answer here.
As much as I believe God to be directly and intimately involved in our lives, God also is a God of free will. Like a good parent, God stays near to guide us but without imposing the divine will on us.
While it’s true our good God invented the universe, which we have come to understand partly through science, we also know bad things happen, so how do we make sense of that?
If our God is a God of the good, then it follows that the bad things that happen can be attributed to something other than God. If God allows it, that either means a higher good will come from it or that evil has had its way.
After our miscarriage, I learned my body had been deficient in progesterone. Rather than a sinister God reaching into my womb to take the life growing within, it turns out my body’s lack of a life-sustaining hormone likely prevented my pregnancy from reaching maturity.
Which begs the question, couldn’t God have intervened? I believe so, but I also know now that I wouldn’t have grown in the ways I have from experiencing this loss, and God knew that, too.
I firmly believe that while we wept for loss of the life we’d already begun celebrating, so did God.
Instead of blaming God, I attribute God for helping me see that in losing our third child, Gabriel, we gained a prayer warrior for our family who is already in the place we all hope to go someday. He is leading us home, lighting the way.
After Gabriel’s death we welcomed into our family three more children, all of whom are with us in part due to natural progesterone, which helped assure the lives God set in motion would come to be. If we hadn’t lost Gabriel, none of them would exist. That thought often brings me to my knees in gratitude.
It was painful losing our child, but instead of allowing the loss to become a barrier between myself and God, I drew closer than ever and firmer in my conviction of the sacredness of all life.