A bereaved mother’s fight on Mother’s Day

May 11, 2018

Soon after recovering physically from my first miscarriage, my husband and I returned to church to worship alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ. That Sunday was not easy. Returning to “normal life” after tragedy strikes never is.

There is simply no escaping the feeling—whether justified or not—that those around you are oblivious to the gravity of the pain you are experiencing. For you, the world has been forever altered. Eternal realities of life, death, pain, and longing have been your constant companions. Yet all around, people seem to live and laugh as though nothing of significance has happened.

Our church at the time was located a couple minutes away from the seminary my husband attended. Its membership was made up predominantly of young seminary students and their families. Their growing families. And as we found a place to sit in one of the pews, I remember looking down the row of people it held, mentally noting each of the swollen bellies it contained. Those who did not carry their children within them, rocked car seat carriers back and forth, gently hushing their little ones to sleep.

Instinctively, I touched my empty belly, and grieved for the life that only weeks before resided within. My eyes filled with tears as I sought to accept the providence of God in my life and in theirs—that while he had chosen life for their children, he had allowed death to befall mine; that while he was calling them to the privilege of motherhood, he was calling me to the privilege of suffering.

The battle within

In that moment I fought a spiritual battle that I now realize I will be fighting for the rest of my earthly life—a battle to grasp and truly treasure the Lord’s sovereignty in my life and in the lives of those around me. This battle demands that I put to death the sins of comparison and envy with the only weapon strong enough to vanquish them, the sword of Truth.

God’s Word tells us with unwavering certainty that he cares for each of his children uniquely. He doesn’t haphazardly distribute his blessings nor does he sadistically inflict pain on this children. He loves them, even to the point of death.

With Mother’s Day approaching, I know that many women who’ve lost children to miscarriage and stillbirth, or who struggle with infertility, will find themselves in similarly difficult situations. I know that they will be tempted to believe God has been unkind to them, that he must not care for them as much as he does the mothers of living children in their midst, and that the celebration of motherhood by the world and the church on Mother’s Day is just another cruel twist of the knife in an already gruesome and infected wound.

The capable weapon

It’s possible to mourn the loss of your own child and your own unfulfilled longings as a mother, while simultaneously celebrating the good gift of motherhood he’s given to others.

If this is where you find yourself, dear sister, I want you to know that you are not alone. You are not the first woman to fight this battle, nor will you be the last. You must draw near to the Lord and put to use his sword of Truth if you wish to overcome. He has not left you defenseless. Look to the Psalms that tell of his goodness (Ps. 34:8, 106:1, 119:68; 145), remind yourself of the incomprehensible price Jesus paid for you on the cross (Rom. 5:9-11; 2 Cor. 2:16; Heb. 10:14; Rev. 5:9), and never forget the continuing and intimate work God is doing in you through the power of the Holy Spirit (Ps. 138:8; Rom. 8:28-29; Phil 1:6).

Above all, do not allow yourself to exist in a hopeless state of denial when it comes to God’s sovereign control of your life. The Bible tells us that God controls all things, from the seemingly insignificant flip of a coin (Prov. 16:33) to the kingdom-shaping decisions of kings (Prov. 21:1). We are told that God works “all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11). This means that the God who is good in all he does, who gave his very life for you, and who continues to work in your heart today to conform you to his image, has every single moment of your life planned out. He is working it all according to his will and as Romans 8 tells us, for your good. It also means that he is doing the same wonderful work in the lives of the other women around you.

The glorious outcome

This knowledge changes the way we approach Mother’s Day as bereaved women. It means that it’s possible to mourn the loss of your own child and your own unfulfilled longings as a mother, while simultaneously celebrating the good gift of motherhood he’s given to others. This is because we know, through the power of his Word, that he is in control of all things and that he is working uniquely in each woman’s life for their good and his glory.

The same is true for those who are blessed with fruitful wombs. Through the power of God’s Word it is possible for them to rejoice in the Lord for his tangible blessings in the form of children, while at the same time soberly caring for and tending to the hurting women in their midst. Each of us benefits from one another.

This is what is meant by Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians when he said, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

Allies, not enemies

The beauty of being a part of the body of Christ is that we are intrinsically connected to one another. We do not always live this way, to be sure, but it is how we are meant to live. Jesus has united us together in such a way that we are meant to feel one another’s sorrows and joys as though they are our very own. For the woman who has suffered the loss of children, this means she shares her grief with others by letting them in on the anguish of her heart, while simultaneously fighting to rejoice in the gift of children given to others within the body.

This is no easy task. I was not kidding when I said it will be a battle within your soul. And yet, let us not, as women who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or infertility, diminish the inherent beauty of the very thing we long for by disdaining its manifestation in other people’s lives. Motherhood is a blessing. It is precisely because of this that God’s withholding of children from some is so painful. It is good and right to acknowledge this reality, and dangerous to deny it.

I've often heard of women refraining from attending church on Mother’s Day because it is simply too painful a reminder of what they have been denied. I understand this impulse, but I humbly submit that this is not the ultimate answer to the pain a bereaved mother is experiencing. She will not ultimately find healing by missing church every time motherhood is discussed or visible. True healing lies not in drawing away from other mothers, but by drawing near to our heavenly Father. The more we seek to understand our good and loving God through his Word, the better we will be able to embrace the unique ways he weaves together the trials and blessings in each of our lives. It is then that we will truly, with sincerity of heart, be able to weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice.

As I stood next to my pregnant sisters in Christ that Sunday morning after my first miscarriage and we lifted our voices together as one body in worship to the Lord, we testified together of the goodness of our sovereign Savior. True, God had dealt very differently with each of us, and yet in the most important sense, he was doing the exact same thing in my life as he was in theirs: he was working all things for good.

Jessalyn Hutto

Jessalyn Hutto is the author of Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb, a book that seeks to share the hope of the gospel with women who’ve suffered the pain of miscarriage. You can find more of her writing at her website, JHutto.com. Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24