Isaiah 9-11 Day, part 1

Yesterday–Oct. 15–was national Infant and Pregnancy Loss Day.

I don’t even like to type that.  It is a clinical and cold term that sounds like I am studying for a real estate license.  But it is better than “change your life forever day” or “feels like part of you died forever day.”

I prefer to think of it as Isaiah 9-11 day.  In Isaiah 9:8 and following through the end of chapter 10, we read of God’s judgment against Israel.  Isaiah’s prophecy is brutally honest and paints a horrific picture of hopelessness and desolation.  Let me share my story:

It was June 16, 2010–the date of our wedding anniversary.  My wife and I went to Buffalo Wild Wings to celebrate.  It was just the two of us for the first time in a while.  The school year had just recently ended and I was starting to prepare for the future year.  I distinctly remember how relaxed and happy I felt.  I hadn’t felt that way for a while.  I felt… good!  I LIKE this feeling.  It is OK to be happy!  We ate and talked.  Mostly, we spoke of our coming baby.  I was surprised when I found out that my wife was pregnant again but I was very much looking forward to the new baby that would join our family.  I started thinking of things I would do with the child–games I would play; books I would read.  I was relaxed; I was content; I was happy.

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
    you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
    the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
    will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

June 17.  I worked in my office in the morning  and Sarah stopped by to pick me up.  As we were leaving, I stopped to talk to a parent and student.  “We’re going to the doctor to find out if we are having a boy or a girl!”  I called over my shoulder as we left.

The Lord has sent a message against Jacob;
    it will fall on Israel.
All the people will know it—
    Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria—
who say with pride
    and arrogance of heart,

10 “The bricks have fallen down,
    but we will rebuild with dressed stone;
the fig trees have been felled,
    but we will replace them with cedars.”


We got to the doctor’s office and waited nervously in the waiting room.  We whispered about possible names.  And then we were called back for the ultrasound.

11 But the Lord has strengthened Rezin’s foes against them
    and has spurred their enemies on.
12 Arameans from the east and Philistines from the west
    have devoured Israel with open mouth.

Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
    his hand is still upraised.

The technician was quiet.  I stared at the monitor.  There he (or she) was!  I could see the baby!  I could see the head slightly bowed.  I could see the hand up, almost as if in prayer.  And in retrospect… maybe it WAS in prayer.  Was the prayer “Lord, have mercy” or “Father, be with my mom and dad as You call me home to You”?

13 But the people have not returned to him who struck them,
    nor have they sought the Lord Almighty.
14 So the Lord will cut off from Israel both head and tail,
    both palm branch and reed in a single day;
15 the elders and dignitaries are the head,
    the prophets who teach lies are the tail.
16 Those who guide this people mislead them,
    and those who are guided are led astray.
17 Therefore the Lord will take no pleasure in the young men,
    nor will he pity the fatherless and widows,
for everyone is ungodly and wicked,
    every mouth speaks folly.

Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
    his hand is still upraised.

The technician got up quickly and left the room.  I was still smiling like a fool, waiting for the results.  I looked over at Sarah.  She knew something was wrong.  I saw fear and sadness on her face, but I had no idea what was going on.

18 Surely wickedness burns like a fire;
    it consumes briers and thorns,
it sets the forest thickets ablaze,
    so that it rolls upward in a column of smoke.
19 By the wrath of the Lord Almighty
    the land will be scorched
and the people will be fuel for the fire;
    they will not spare one another.
20 On the right they will devour,
    but still be hungry;
on the left they will eat,
    but not be satisfied.
Each will feed on the flesh of their own offspring[b]:
21     Manasseh will feed on Ephraim, and Ephraim on Manasseh;
    together they will turn against Judah.

Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
    his hand is still upraised.

The doctor came in.  As best I can remember he said, “Well, there are two babies…”  TWO!?!  Immediately my mind started racing and I didn’t catch some of what was said.  TWINS!  Let’s see… twins ran on my side of the family, so it would make sense.  This is wonderful!  I wonder if they will be identical or fraternal?

Woe to those who make unjust laws,
    to those who issue oppressive decrees,
to deprive the poor of their rights
    and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
    and robbing the fatherless.
What will you do on the day of reckoning,
    when disaster comes from afar?
To whom will you run for help?
    Where will you leave your riches?
Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives
    or fall among the slain.

Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away,
    his hand is still upraised.

“Unfortunately, they have both died.”  I couldn’t comprehend those words.  Just do something to make them well.  They can’t be dead.  How do we make this right again?

“Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger,
    in whose hand is the club of my wrath!
I send him against a godless nation,
    I dispatch him against a people who anger me,
to seize loot and snatch plunder,
    and to trample them down like mud in the streets.
But this is not what he intends,
    this is not what he has in mind;
his purpose is to destroy,
    to put an end to many nations.

Slowly, the weight of what I was being told started to constrict around me.  It felt like a vise, slowly turned and squeezing the very breath and life out of my body.  I had died.  I was certain of it.

I remember walking through the thickest wet cement you can imagine as I moved from the office to the waiting room and then outside.  There were no words.  What can any doctor or nurse offer you after you hear that news?  I was numb; I was nothing.

But my wife needs me.  By the grace of God, we made it through those plodding steps, through tear stained eyes, through the looks of those waiting in the waiting room and out to our car.  At that moment, I called family members.  I also called to schedule the DNC.  I remember that I couldn’t finish the conversation on the phone with the scheduler.  She felt sorry for us; and I felt sorry that I made her feel that way.

‘Are not my commanders all kings?’ he says.
    ‘Has not Kalno fared like Carchemish?
Is not Hamath like Arpad,
    and Samaria like Damascus?
10 As my hand seized the kingdoms of the idols,
    kingdoms whose images excelled those of Jerusalem and Samaria—
11 shall I not deal with Jerusalem and her images
    as I dealt with Samaria and her idols?’”

The next day was a blur.  I can’t even begin to imagine what was going through my wife’s mind.  Somehow we made it home from the hospital.  The next few days are lost to history.  I posted online about the experience.  After a week, I thought, “Okay… I should start feeling better.”  I didn’t.

12 When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes. 13 For he says:

“‘By the strength of my hand I have done this,
    and by my wisdom, because I have understanding.
I removed the boundaries of nations,
    I plundered their treasures;
    like a mighty one I subdued[a] their kings.
14 As one reaches into a nest,
    so my hand reached for the wealth of the nations;
as people gather abandoned eggs,
    so I gathered all the countries;
not one flapped a wing,
    or opened its mouth to chirp.’”

By the end of July, I was a mess.  Financial problems from a house sale… car problems that became expensive… medical bills… all of these piled up and compounded to our anguish.  I began to lose my temper over the smallest things.  I would cry.  Thankfully, a friend pointed me to Lutheran counselor and we all went in for counseling.

12 When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes. 13 For he says:

“‘By the strength of my hand I have done this,
    and by my wisdom, because I have understanding.
I removed the boundaries of nations,
    I plundered their treasures;
    like a mighty one I subdued[a] their kings.
14 As one reaches into a nest,
    so my hand reached for the wealth of the nations;
as people gather abandoned eggs,
    so I gathered all the countries;
not one flapped a wing,
    or opened its mouth to chirp.’”

As the days began to count down toward a new school year, I was in dread.  How would I deal with students?  Should I step down?  Can I do this?  Then we had our back to school night.  I saw students in the building.  I knew I would be okay… not good, but enough to get by.

15 Does the ax raise itself above the person who swings it,
    or the saw boast against the one who uses it?
As if a rod were to wield the person who lifts it up,
    or a club brandish the one who is not wood!
16 Therefore, the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
    will send a wasting disease upon his sturdy warriors;
under his pomp a fire will be kindled
    like a blazing flame.
17 The Light of Israel will become a fire,
    their Holy One a flame;
in a single day it will burn and consume
    his thorns and his briers.
18 The splendor of his forests and fertile fields
    it will completely destroy,
    as when a sick person wastes away.
19 And the remaining trees of his forests will be so few
    that a child could write them down.

That was a rough school year.  Every time I felt I was fine, something would knock me down.  A visit to an office would hit me when a secretary would ask, “So, when is that baby coming?”  When October approached and the babies’ due date came up, I felt a wave of sadness.  A friend, trying to be helpful, said, “Well, at least you have your other two kids.”  I didn’t know what to think about that, let alone how to respond.

20 In that day the remnant of Israel,
    the survivors of Jacob,
will no longer rely on him
    who struck them down
but will truly rely on the Lord,
    the Holy One of Israel.
21 A remnant will return,[b] a remnant of Jacob
    will return to the Mighty God.
22 Though your people be like the sand by the sea, Israel,
    only a remnant will return.
Destruction has been decreed,
    overwhelming and righteous.
23 The Lord, the Lord Almighty, will carry out
    the destruction decreed upon the whole land.

I admit:  I do not remember much of that school year.  I made it through and we did some good things that year, but I don’t remember much (if anything) from that year.  I was an ineffective teacher, principal, father, and husband.

24 Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord Almighty, says:

“My people who live in Zion,
    do not be afraid of the Assyrians,
who beat you with a rod
    and lift up a club against you, as Egypt did.
25 Very soon my anger against you will end
    and my wrath will be directed to their destruction.”

26 The Lord Almighty will lash them with a whip,
    as when he struck down Midian at the rock of Oreb;
and he will raise his staff over the waters,
    as he did in Egypt.
27 In that day their burden will be lifted from your shoulders,
    their yoke from your neck;
the yoke will be broken
    because you have grown so fat.[c]

28 They enter Aiath;
    they pass through Migron;
    they store supplies at Mikmash.
29 They go over the pass, and say,
    “We will camp overnight at Geba.”
Ramah trembles;
    Gibeah of Saul flees.
30 Cry out, Daughter Gallim!
    Listen, Laishah!
    Poor Anathoth!
31 Madmenah is in flight;
    the people of Gebim take cover.
32 This day they will halt at Nob;
    they will shake their fist
at the mount of Daughter Zion,
    at the hill of Jerusalem.

33 See, the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
    will lop off the boughs with great power.
The lofty trees will be felled,
    the tall ones will be brought low.
34 He will cut down the forest thickets with an ax;
    Lebanon will fall before the Mighty One.

Life would never be the same.  I reached out to friends.  Some responded; others did not–which added to the hurt.  I “unfriended” everyone on Facebook that couldn’t take the time to even say, “I’m praying for you” in the midst of our grief.  Some friends ministered to me in ways that stunned me:  the former student who sent a card; the former classmates who sent gifts and books.

Our forest was gone.

(Scripture references from Biblegateway.com)

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