Mother’s Day and miscarriages: An interview with Jessalyn Hutto

My first pregnancy didn’t end the way I would have hoped or desired. I entered the doctor’s office, prepared to hear the heartbeat of my growing child, only to be told that our child had stopped growing, and there was no heartbeat to be found. That was a devastating day. What I couldn’t have been prepared for at that time was that I would experience the pain of miscarriage three additional times. After having four miscarriages, I understand that Mother’s Day may be a painful experience for many women.

Author and blogger, Jessalyn Hutto, also understands the pain of miscarriage and has written a book to help encourage the faith of those who have experienced it. In this interview, she gives insight for how she’s cared for others, encouragement to those struggling and wisdom for how we can remember those mothers who have lost their children.

Trillia Newbell: You have, unfortunately, endured miscarriages. Could you tell us about that?

Jessalyn Hutto: My husband and I have lost two children through miscarriage. Our first pregnancy (in 2008) ended in an early miscarriage at eight weeks gestation, and a second miscarriage (a late miscarriage at 17 weeks gestation) took the life of our fourth baby in 2011.

TN: What made you decide to write about your experience in Inheritance of Tears: Trusting the Lord of Life When Death Visits the Womb?

JH: I began blogging about miscarriage shortly after we lost our daughter, Anastasia. At that point, we had been blessed with two darling little boys, but had also endured the painful loss of two babies in the womb. It had become obvious that healthy, uneventful pregnancies were not things that I could take for granted. Having a deep passion for theology and how it applies to my everyday life, I began writing about my own struggle to trust God in the midst of such great loss, and most specifically, how to trust him with the possibility of losing more babies in the future. My hope was that these posts would bless other women out there who were experiencing similar trials—women who were forced to deal with their view of God’s sovereignty and goodness in the midst of such terrible providences.

Time and time again, women would write in to me, explaining that they had stumbled upon my blog as they were searching for hope in the midst of their miscarriages. Of course, in a sense, the popularity of these posts did not surprise me. After losing babies myself, I became aware of the startling frequency at which miscarriages occur among women. It seemed as though everywhere I looked, women were suffering from the pain of losing their unborn babies, infertility and even stillbirths.

What did surprise me, however, was the silence that seemed to surround these topics on the part of the church. Rarely were these particular tragedies—which are so strikingly common—being addressed by pastors or women’s ministries. Suffering women simply were not getting the biblical counsel they desperately need. Instead, as they suffered in isolation, they would often turn to the internet for answers and comfort. But much of what they would find there focused on the emotional aspects of losing a baby rather than on how the truth of God’s Word applied to their loss. They were receiving empathy from the articles they were reading, but not necessarily the hope that could be found in the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

Rather than being put off by the theological explanations I was offering on my blog, women were being encouraged and finding greater peace in the midst of their suffering. I became convinced that the church was in desperate need of a theologically driven—yet at the same time sensitive—work on the topic of miscarriage, both for the women who suffer and for those who desire to minister well to them. When Cruciform offered me that exact opportunity, I enthusiastically said, “Yes!”

TN: Miscarriage seems more common than we think. Have you found this to be true?

JH: One of the greatest blessings God has given to me as a result of my miscarriages has been the opportunity to minister to the many women who are called to walk through this same terrible trial. Because of my own experiences of loss, I’ve had the privilege of being allowed to grieve alongside dear friends, church members and even family as they’ve had to walk the same path of suffering. In fact, while I was in the process of writing Inheritance of Tears, three of my close friends were affected by miscarriage. Truthfully, it seems that with this particular trial there are always opportunities to share the hope of the gospel with those who are suffering. Miscarriages are common, and the women who suffer from them need their friends and family members to be equipped to serve them in their time of need.

TN: Do you find that many women have a difficult time talking about their experience?

JH: Yes and no. In a sense, miscarriage is a very intimate topic and therefore, one that is difficult to speak about. It can be hard for a woman to express the debilitating grief she feels for the death of her child when the ones seeking to comfort her may not have even known that the child existed. Often, you have to inform others about your baby’s existence as you simultaneously inform them about his or her death. This can be a very difficult thing to do.

Women can also find it hard to share with others how deeply they are impacted by the loss of their unborn children. Because of the “invisible” nature of her loss to the outside world, a woman who miscarries can be tempted to feel guilty for making such a big deal about it. While others may think that she is healing and coping well after her loss, in reality she may still be experiencing profound grief and even depression. Often these women are tempted to feel guilty or ashamed for bringing up their continuing pain, assuming that others don’t want to hear about her ongoing struggle.

In reality, however, I believe that women who suffer from miscarriage are desperate for a kind, listening ear. They long to be able to have their loss validated by someone who will recognize their miscarriage for what it truly is: the death of a child. Having someone who will do that, and then walk alongside them in their grief as they seek to trust the Lord with such a difficult providence, is an incredible gift.

TN: You have kids now. How did you fight the temptation to fear another loss once you were pregnant again?

JH: We have been incredibly blessed to have four children (three boys and one girl). With each of their pregnancies, I encountered the debilitating fear of losing them. Having experienced a miscarriage with my first pregnancy, I knew with great clarity just how fragile each of the tiny lives I carried within my womb were. Then, after miscarrying again in the second trimester (the point in your pregnancy when everything is “supposed” to be smooth sailing), I was confronted with the complete unpredictability of God’s providence.

Each and every time I carried a child within me, I had to make a conscious decision to submit myself to his will, no matter what that would be. This does not mean that I did not fear. To the contrary: this was a huge struggle for me, especially after our second trimester miscarriage. But the Lord was gracious to me during those times, teaching me to be open with him about my fears (as though he couldn’t see them already!), confessing them and asking him to replace them with the faith to trust his goodness, even when I did not understand his purposes.

I also found Jesus to be all the sweeter to me in those moments (days and weeks, even!) of fear. I experienced great comfort in recounting the terrible moments our Savior spent in the garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion. There in the garden, Jesus sweat great droplets of blood at the mere thought of the tortures before him. He even asked his Father to remove the cup of suffering he was sent to endure, but in the end submitted himself to his Father’s perfect will. This account from God’s Word was a continual reminder of his ability to tenderly care for me in my moments of fear. He knew the struggle I was going through; he knew what it was like to dread the next day.

What a glorious blessing to know that the one who created the heavens and the earth understood the complicated emotions surging through me. What an example I had in him as I sought to submit myself to my heavenly Father’s will—whether that meant a healthy pregnancy or another miscarriage.

TN: There’s an unexpected gift in trials—we get to comfort with the comfort we’ve received. If you were sitting across the table from a woman who has just experienced a miscarriage, how might you comfort her?

JH: Initially, the most important thing I want to convey to a woman who has miscarried is that her pain has merit. What I mean by this is that I want her to know that what has happened to her truly is as terrible as it feels. I don’t want her to feel burdened to “get over” her loss quickly simply because it is hard for those around her to understand. She has lost a child—death has robbed her of one of the sweetest gifts we can experience in this life! —and that is worth mourning. The pain she is experiencing is justified, and I want her to know that I am willing to walk through those dark valleys with her.

However, we will not do that without hope, because even in the valley of death, we have a good Shepherd, who loves us and cares for us. This good Shepherd sacrificed his life for us, so that such terrible experiences of suffering, like miscarriage, would one day be done away with. Through his substitutionary death on the cross and victorious resurrection, we are assured of a day when pain and suffering will be no more.

Because of this wonderful truth, I will never be afraid to acknowledge the real and deep suffering a woman encounters when she miscarries, but I will also confidently and joyfully point her to the One who came to earth to wage war against the root of all her suffering: sin. He came and he conquered. Hallelujah!

TN: How might you comfort a woman who has experienced several miscarriages?

JH: I think the most important thing to remember when ministering to a woman who continues to struggle with miscarriages and/or infertility is to not forget about her. It can be so easy to become numb to her pain when you are not the one experiencing it—especially when it continues to happen time and again.

Each miscarriage must be treated with the same gravity as the first, and there must be an understanding of the emotional trauma that is building in her soul each time she loses a child or the pregnancy test comes back negative. It isn’t routine for her; it is heart breaking, each and every time. She needs your constant support and prayers.

In a similar vein, I would add that there is a great temptation to become fearful for a woman when she has miscarried several times and then becomes pregnant again. This is completely understandable because it is a scary thing to know how fragile the gift of pregnancy is. However, you must endeavor to be joyful with her when she becomes pregnant, welcoming the new life as you would any other child, praying for his or her safety, and caring for her as she develops the usual pregnancy symptoms. She needs to know that people love her children and do not feel as though she is burdening them when she announces each new pregnancy.

It is not wrong to acknowledge the very real “risk” of miscarriage. In fact, it is good to understand the fears that are surely surging through her heart. Acknowledge them and pray for courage, but at the same time offer thanks to God with her, for the new life blossoming within her womb. Be the person she looks forward to sharing the news with every time because she knows you will be happy for her.

TN: What are ways that we can encourage and comfort husbands who endure this trial?

JH: I think it is important to understand that husbands are in a very difficult position when their wives miscarry. They, too, experience intense grief when their babies die, but at the same time, they know that their wives are grappling with the loss on a whole other level. These men need to grieve themselves, but are simultaneously seeking to comfort their distraught wives. They need good, faithful friends who will walk alongside them, check in on them consistently, pray with them and simply listen to them as they grapple with the deep emotions and questions they are confronted with at the loss of their children.

God gives us a call to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. We have an opportunity this week to rightly rejoice with those mothers who serve their children day and night. Let us also remember the ones who long for the day they will get to hold a child and call them their own. This Mother’s Day, let’s appropriately rejoice with all mothers while also remembering the ones who have lost their children.

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

Trillia Newbell

Trillia Newbell is the author of several books including A Great Cloud of Witnesses, Sacred Endurance, If God Is For Us, Fear and Faith,and the children’s books, Creative God, Colorful Us and  God’s Very Good Idea. When she isn’t writing, she’s encouraging and supporting other writers as an Acquisitions Editor at Moody … 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