Lasting Joy in the Midst of Loss
Please welcome my friend, Jennifer Castro, our guest writer for today’s post. She shares her story about finding lasting joy in the midst of infertility and loss. I’m so grateful for her willingness to share her heart and encouragement during this Christmas season.
My husband and I met later in life. I was 40 when we married; he was 48. Although we knew odds for having children were stacked against us because of my age, we also knew God was bigger than any obstacle. We trusted Him to carry us through whatever awaited us.
One November day, after we’d been married for 18 months, I discovered we were expecting. It was so hard to keep the secret! Since our family was coming to our home on Thanksgiving we decided it would be the perfect time to share our thankfulness for the new life God had given!
We developed our “reveal plan” and bought the grandmothers-to-be sweet gifts to share the news. As they unwrapped their gifts (with my dad behind the camera) the reality of my pregnancy dawned on both grandmothers and the baby’s very excited aunt. There were hugs, cheers, more hugs, and tears. The turkey dinner we’d prepared was nearly forgotten in the excitement. My 82-year-old father-in-law told me how very happy I’d made him. The family name would be carried on after all.
Two days before Christmas, our hopes came crashing down when our little baby was lost. Testing later revealed it was a boy. We had already chosen his name, envisioned his nursery, and begun to plan and dream. We had talked about what it would be like to have a teenager in the house in our 50s and 60s. We’d established a college fund. We’d told my employer and several close friends.
Suddenly everything was dark. Sad. I felt “dreary and rainy”. The tears flowed. I couldn’t imagine that I would so quickly fall in love with a person I’d never met. And now it was over. Hope and joy…gone.
My precious husband was sad, never having experienced that kind of loss. But in the midst of his own pain, he said, “I’m so sorry, Honey. I want to do and be whatever you need. But I’m not sure what that is right now. Please help me know what you need.” I’m not sure I’d ever loved him as much as I did at that moment. His concern was for me first, himself a distant second. We leaned on each other as we journeyed through the darkness.
It was a sad Christmas for us. But we had renewed hope because we knew for certain God is always good. He sent wonderful people to minister to us in those days. He let us see His goodness through the birth of His son through whom we knew we’d one day see our sweet boy.
Over the following two years, two more babies left us for Heaven. It didn’t matter why; it only mattered we’d lost. We prayed for God’s peace that passes all understanding and for His clear revelation to us about pursuing costly treatments, surrogacy, or adoption. All those doors were gently closed to us, but we had peace. We knew because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, we’d be just like Job in the days of old. He lost absolutely everything. He was allowed to be tested severely, yet he never gave up on God. God replaced everything Job had lost… except his children. Have you ever wondered why God did not give Job more children? It’s because his children were never truly lost. They were in Heaven, awaiting the day Job would join them in the presence of God. As it was for Job, so it is for us. We’ll be reunited with our babies in God’s perfect timing.
My husband and I met volunteering with a juvenile prison ministry. Some 25 years later, we have a ministry of our own, working with incarcerated and at-risk youth. Through that work, we have so many children, we can’t begin to count them all! We wouldn’t have that ministry if we’d had children at home. We wouldn’t be able to travel to prisons and share the Good News of Jesus Christ, to love on kids who have never heard a parent say “I love you,” and to amass a family bigger than we could’ve imagined.
This Christmas our prayer is that in the midst of loss, you will find joy. The real, lasting joy that only comes through Christ Jesus. We wish you His perfect peace.