A few days ago my wife and I had a little scare. Certain factors of her pregnancy were concerning us so we made an emergency appointment at the OB. In the end everything was just fine. We got to see the little peanut and her/his little heart beat.*
Subsequent to our ultrasound we saw the doctor. After reaffirming that our baby is fine he went on to talk a little about miscarriages. He told Cassie and I that if such a thing ever happened during the course of this pregnancy it would NOT be our fault….unless Cassie was secretly doing Cocaine or hitting the bars after I go to sleep.
He said in such circumstances, when the mother lives a completely healthy lifestyle, “God just wills it.” The miscarriage, that is.
Now this is a curious statement for many reasons. But what struck me at the time was how in the world does he think it is a comfort to anyone that God killed their baby (or even that He permitted its death)? I’m sure for him it’s just a cheap, churchy cliché that lays these things in the hands of Providence. I’m also sure such an answer probably actually works for most people.
But we’re not “most people.”
If my wife had actually had a miscarriage and he told us that it was the will of God, I’d probably punch him in the face (and I would have done it will a fist full of pacifist conviction!).
God does not “will” miscarriages. God’s desire is for life and its flourishing. When miscarriages occur, they are the result of human beings living in a broken world where death reigns. This was never God’s will. Never.
Technically, there is a sense in which the Christian tradition has always believed that the wages of sin is death, and so in a sense, miscarriages are the result of human sinfulness (not God’s punishment for your/my individual sin, but our general sinful condition). But God never “willed” this – this was not his desire or intention. He created us to celebrate beauty and life, to look to Him and live.
Miscarriages remind us of the frailty of human life. They remind us of the brokenness of the world in which we live and the brokenness of our own souls. But let us never speak of them as something that God “wills.” And let us especially never lay such a theological misunderstanding at the feet of someone who’s just experienced a miscarriage. A better suggestion would be to come along side the couple and remind them of God’s presence in the midst of their suffering. Divine presence in the midst of suffering: That God wills.
*If the baby is a boy, we’re going to name him Tommy (after my dad). If the baby is a girl, we’re going to name her June (after Junia in Romans 16 and June Hathersmith, one of the most godly women you’d ever meet). Until we know what the sex is, we’ve resorted to calling the little peanut something in between: Tune.