During the week of January 10, 2016, my wife Sarah was experiencing some unexplainable discomfort and bleeding. After several days, she called her doctor and was asked if she was pregnant. To our knowledge the answer was no, but she was advised to take a pregnancy test and then call back. We were surprised to discover the pregnancy test to be positive, but immediately had the expectation that miscarriage had already occurred. An appointment was scheduled for the next day and we went to bed with confusion in our minds and our hearts. There were several different possibilities, and we prayed that a healthy baby was inside her womb.

Once we arrived at the doctor’s office, and after another test confirmed the pregnancy, we were taken to a room where Sarah would have an ultrasound. This is where we were surprised. The ultrasound tech found nothing in the womb and immediately became alarmed. She shared with us that an ectopic pregnancy was likely the case and the baby was in the tube, having not made it to the uterus. We didn’t understand the severity of all that was going on, but quickly learned what a risk this was to Sarah.

We then met with the on-call doctor who, by God’s providence, is an expert in these cases. There were still several possibilities of what was taking place. We hoped it was a healthy pregnancy and that the bleeding could easily be stopped. The likely scenario, however, was as I’ve already described. Surgically removing one of Sarah’s fallopian tubes was the only option. This created all kinds of questions for us, the first was whether we were choosing the baby’s life or Sarah’s life.

We immediately called several medical professionals in our family and in our church and were assured this was not an abortive surgery and that the pregnancy was not viable as the baby couldn’t survive in the tube. We needed this assurance.

Sarah was eventually taken to have the surgery and we continued to pray that a healthy pregnancy was reality, not just a longing. After several hours, however, our longings were not realized. The doctor came and told me Sarah had over a pint of blood in her abdomen—of which she never complained—and that the pregnancy was indeed ectopic.

After the doctor left me to myself I tried to find a place alone in the waiting room and finally let out all the emotion that had been welling up inside of me. I sat alone weeping over all that had taken place when a woman who had seen me crying came and consoled me. I didn’t know her. She was there celebrating the birth of a grandchild, an interesting paradox, but I needed her. Later, Pastor Mike and Letitia came and waited with me. Their encouragement, prayers, and presence were a lifeline.

Finally, I could see Sarah. We held one another and cried together. After a couple hours of recovery, we went home that evening. We were sad, relieved, puzzled, and tired. So much took place in just 24 hours. Here’s some of what I wrote that night to process:

What words are there to describe such a day? A mix of grief, joy, thankfulness, and disappointment. On one hand, I’m broken that we will never know, in this life, our son or daughter. On the other hand, I’m overjoyed my wife and best friend is alive and beside me in bed. I feel such sorrow and such relief.

Days ago we wondered what could be wrong, and now it feels like we have been through so much in such a short period.

Seeing my wife in a hospital bed and knowing she would be having surgery was an anxiety I’ve never felt before. Alone, I paced and felt my heart race along. Every possible thing ran through my mind in those moments.

This is what the vows are for.

Why did this happen? I don’t know. God is entirely in control and loves us more than we know. We want another child and pray He gives us one. I’m so glad Sarah is alright. I love her.

Many people suffer miscarriage. And we, like others, found it difficult to process it all. We experienced what others have experienced on a much smaller level. We didn’t have weeks of anticipation. We hadn’t told our families. We didn’t even know Sarah was pregnant until we knew something was wrong. But we still felt the loss.

As Sarah and I have reflected on all that took place a year ago it saddens us to recount the story. But there is also much that God taught us through it.

We were comforted by so many who shared their experiences and the sense of loss they felt as well. We now have a glimpse of what others go through in miscarriage. Recently friends shared about their own miscarriage and we agonized over their agony. We can “mourn with those who mourn.”

We also learned that it can be more difficult to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” When others announced pregnancies after we lost ours it was difficult to be excited. Certainly, some of it was sinful jealously, but much of it was simply because we felt the loss of someone we never met.

We realized how much we need God’s people. When we had questions, there were certain people in our church I had to talk to. I needed their advice, their wisdom, and their comfort.

By God’s grace, Sarah is pregnant again and we await the birth of a little girl in February. The reality is we would not have this baby if God had not ended the other.

When we suffer we cling to anything that will give us hope. Where is our hope? God. His love. His character. His sovereignty. While I will never pretend to know the mind of the Lord, I do know that He was in control over every detail of this and if He willed He could have saved the pregnancy. But in His will, love, power, and sovereignty He didn’t. If this was random then God could not be trusted and He could not give comfort. If this wasn’t meant for His glory and our good, then we would be lost in a world in which He has no control. But since He is in complete control He can be trusted and He can give comfort. I don’t have to understand why.

But we don’t only trust in a God who is sovereign we also trust in a God who has suffered. God offered up His Son Jesus to die on a cross for my sin. Jesus’ death on the cross was no accident.

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush Him…

Acts 2:23 …Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God…

We now know Jesus better because of this. Our love for Him has grown. We’re comforted by knowing our sin has been paid for, in knowing a Lord who is familiar with suffering, and in a caring Savior who is entirely in control. Yes, we have unanswered questions, but we also have a sovereign Savior. And in Him, we place our hope.

Zac Hess joined the pastoral staff in 2013 after serving as an intern during his seminary studies. He grew up on a farm in Ashland, OH and later met his wife, Sarah, who grew up as part of Grace Polaris Church. Zac pursued biblical studies at both Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary. He loves sports, the outdoors, reading, and a good cup of coffee. Zac and Sarah are the proud parents of Jacob.