Episode 28 - Trusting God's Character After Losing a Baby with Ashley Opliger
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When you lose a baby, your whole world falls apart. It's common to wonder where God is and why He would allow you to suffer in this way. You feel abandoned by Him and question why He would let your baby die.
Unfortunately, we are not immune to the fallen nature of our world corrupted by sin and death. But take heart! Jesus has overcome the world and defeated death forever. And, best of all, He promises us eternity in Heaven with Him and our babies through salvation in Him. In this short episode, Ashley shares her story of trusting God's character after losing her daughter, Bridget. She encourages grieving moms to find healing by studying His Word and drawing near to His heart.
In this episode, Ashley discusses:
Feeling abandoned by God after loss
How could a good God allow bad things to happen?
Walking with Jesus in the trenches of life
Trusting God's good nature
The immutability of God and why circumstances can't change Him
How God numbers the days of our lives and our babies' lives
God's sovereignty and faithfulness and why this brings us hope
Finding joy and purpose in serving Him
Each episode has a special Hope Guide that you can download by clicking the button below. It is packed with hope-filled resources and extra information from the episode!
Discussion / Application Questions (leave your answers below in the comments!)
Ashley says that it's in the valleys of life that we learn to truly walk with our Savior and trust in His character. How have you depended on Him during your season of grief? What have you learned about Him that you didn't know before? Do you feel closer to the Lord or further away?
It's hard to reconcile that a good God could allow bad things to happen. Yet, He is good. Ashley explains how sin entered the world and corrupted God's perfect creation and why He might have allowed that to happen. Do you find it hard to believe that God is good even when evil and death exist? In what ways does this impact your relationship with Him?
Ashley shares that God is good, never-changing (immutable), sovereign, and faithful. Which of these attributes of God brings you the most comfort today? Listen back to the episode and read the Bible verses she shared for that attribute then journal a response.
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MEET OUR HOST
Ashley Opliger is the Executive Director of Bridget's Cradles, a nonprofit organization based in Wichita, Kansas that donates cradles to over 1,250 hospitals in all 50 states and comforts over 26,000 bereaved families a year.
Ashley is married to Matt and they have three children: Bridget (in Heaven), and two sons. She is a follower of Christ who desires to share the hope of Heaven with families grieving the loss of a baby.
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Episode 28: Trusting God's Character After Losing a Baby
You’re listening to the Cradled in Hope Podcast on the Edifi Podcast Network. I’m your host, Ashley Opliger. I’m a wife, mom, and follower of Christ who founded Bridget’s Cradles, a nonprofit ministry in memory of my daughter, Bridget, who was stillborn at 24 weeks.
Cradled in Hope is a Gospel-focused podcast for grieving moms to find comfort, hope, and healing after the loss of a baby. We want this to be a safe place for your broken heart to land.
Here, we are going to trust God’s promise to heal our hearts, restore our joy, and use our grief for good. With faith in Jesus and eyes fixed on Heaven, we do not have to grieve without hope. We believe that Jesus cradles us in hope while He cradles our babies in Heaven.
Welcome to the Cradled in Hope Podcast.
Hi, friends. Can you believe Cradled in Hope celebrated its one-year anniversary last month on June 15th? We have now released 28 episodes in the past year and a month, and it's been such an honor to share these stories of hope and healing with you. We pray that this podcast has made a positive impact in your grieving journey and, most importantly, has pointed you to the hope of Heaven through faith in Jesus.
It's been so special to hear from some of you and hear your stories that you've shared with us of the impact the podcast has made on you. We love hearing from you, so please know that you can reach out to us anytime through our website or social channels.
Before we head into this episode today, we want to share a few announcements. First, after this episode, which is Episode 28, we are going to take a short one-month break for the remainder of the summer. We will come back with Episode 29 on September 1st.
Therefore, there won't be any episodes releasing in August. Our team needs this time to recharge, spend time with their families and plan ahead for the upcoming episodes.
Speaking of our team, I want to take this time to thank the amazing people behind this podcast. Did you know it takes an entire team to produce and orchestrate each episode?
First of all, Brian is the producer of our podcast. He works for Forge Podcast and he is the one who uses his incredible audio editing skills to put each episode together so seamlessly with music, intros, and outros.
Also, we have Maria on our team. She is the graphic designer behind all of the beautiful images you see on social media, quotes, Bible verses, carousels, and more. She is serving in memory of her daughter, Taylor, and she creates each image to be aesthetically captivating and to bring hope to broken hearts.
We also have Amanda, who is our Director of Marketing and Communications, and has been with the organization since 2016. She is the one who is helping us spread the message via email. She puts together beautiful communications for the podcast and is also responsible for designing the Hope Guide feature pages for each episode.
And we also have Edith, who is serving with us from Canada. She is the person who transcribes each episode. It's first transcribed by a computer program and then she puts her finishing touches on the transcript. Not only is she amazing at transcribing, she's also a student and lover of God's Word, and she pulls Scripture from each episode that we are able to use in our Hope Guide and graphics.
Lastly, Ashley, that would be myself, I am the host of the podcast and also the director in charge of pitching and planning the episodes, the content and interviews, editing audio files, and so much more. I am involved with writing the content for each episode, Hope Guide, and social media post, just like I am doing right now.
So we have an entire team that makes this happen and we would love to welcome new members to our team so that we can spread the message further and wider. So if you have a skill or a strength that you think would bless the podcast and you want to join the team, please email us at email@example.com.
Now we're ready to dive into today's episode. The message today comes from a blog post that I wrote for a website called The Gospel Changes Everything. I wrote this last year and it was focused on what I learned about God's character after I lost Bridget. It's titled The Death of My Daughter and the Riches of Redemption.
In it, I share lots of Bible verses for you to dig deeper into Scripture so you can study about God's character yourself. I pray this episode blesses you, and it draws you near to God's heart, because He loves you and He desires to comfort you in your grief. He is a good God who is faithful.
So here is my story. And don't forget, we're taking a month break and we will see you back on September 1st.
Almost eight years ago, I lost my first and only daughter. To this day, saying those words out loud still feels so surreal to me. Although I've told her story a thousand times and her name leaves my lips every day, it's still hard to grapple with the reality that I am currently separated from my daughter.
On October 22, 2014, our sweet Bridget Faith went to be with Jesus at 24 weeks gestation in my first pregnancy. Before her stillbirth, I spent 11 weeks on bed rest due to bleeding from a subchorionic hemorrhage.
Those weeks on bed rest were some of the darkest days of my life. I prayed so hard that God would perform a miracle and heal the hemorrhage so that she could grow healthy and strong. However, week after week, appointment after appointment, the doctors continued to give us disheartening reports.
The hemorrhage was growing larger. It was behind the placenta, cutting off critical nutrients to the umbilical cord. Bridget was becoming growth-restricted and measuring further and further behind.
I laid in bed and cried out to God, feeling that He had abandoned me. Why wasn't He answering my prayers? Why was He allowing this to happen to my daughter?
It was during these bleak weeks that God was working behind the scenes, even when I couldn't see it. Looking back now, I realize that His silence did not mean that He wasn't there. It just meant that He was up to something that I couldn't understand at the time.
The week before Bridget was born, I was hospitalized due to increased bleeding. The doctors warned us that labor could happen soon, and that she'd likely be born too small to intervene and save her life.
When my Mom heard this news, she went home and started knitting a small blanket for Bridget. She wanted to have something to give to her first grandchild. However, after making the blanket, she wondered how she could possibly hold such a tiny baby in it, so God gave her the idea to knit the sides up and turn it into a cradle. Made of mint green yarn, that little cradle changed our lives forever.
When Bridget was born, she weighed only 13 ounces. We held her in the cradle and loved on her for the 24 hours we had with her. Being able to bond with her in the cradle gave us an unexpected peace and comfort in the midst of our heartbreak.
I was drowning in sorrow and wondered how I was going to survive without my baby girl. Have you ever felt abandoned by God? Have you ever questioned where He was when you needed Him the most?
If you've been through a loss or a difficult trial and can resonate with these questions, you are not alone. When grieving, it's normal for doubts to rise to the surface. It's common to wrestle with your faith. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? God, why are You letting this happen to me? How could You be a good God and let me suffer?
We are human; suffering is uncomfortable because we do not like to feel pain. We want out of hardship as soon as possible. When we are amid heartbreak, we can't see the good that could come from it, how it is that light and momentary trials pale in comparison to the eternal glory we will receive in Heaven. That comes from 2 Corinthians 4:17.
The deep waves of grief pulled me under the surface and drew me into close intimacy with God. It was here, drowning in the sea of my pain and agony, that I discovered who God really was and who He continues to be.
He was my anchor, my rock and fortress, my firm foundation. When I had no strength of my own, “He lifted me out of the pit of destruction,” Psalm 40:2, “He set my feet on solid ground.” I have found that it is in the valleys of life that we truly learn to walk with our Savior. It's here in these trenches that we depend on Him for our every breath. “His rod and staff comfort us,” Psalm 23:4. He guides our steps and brings us out of the valley.
During my time walking with Jesus through my grief, I learned to trust His character. I studied His Word and grew to know Him in a way I had never known Him before. Here's what I learned about His character:
First, God is good. In the book of Nahum 1:7, it says, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble. He knows those who take refuge in Him.” One of the hardest parts of suffering is reconciling that a good God could allow bad things to happen.
When we see unspeakable tragedies, both personal and global, we wonder how God could sit on His throne and watch it unfold without intervening. We wonder: If He is all powerful, why doesn't He jump in and stop it? Miscarriage stillbirth, pandemics, genocides, child abuse, murder, cancer, and wars, it all seems unfathomable that He could stand by idly and allow it to happen.
As Christians, we know the expected answer and reasoning for why these horrors exist. It is because of the Fall. When sin entered the world, God's perfect Creation became corrupted by death and evil. But if you're a deep thinker like me, you take it back a question even further. Why did God allow sin to enter the world in the first place?
It's a profound, theological question that I won't pretend to know the complete answer to, nor can any human. Remember, His ways are higher than ours, and we can't fully comprehend Him.
Many theologians surmise that to taste and see His goodness, the antithesis of good must also exist. In other words, how would you know He is good without comparing Him to the opposite? How would we be able to enjoy a sunny day if we didn't know what it was like to experience the rain? Or how could we enjoy the light and warmth of summer if we didn't know the darkness and cold of winter?
Perhaps God allowed sin to enter the world so that we could see His love and mercy on display. See Romans 11:32. The Bible is the redemption story of His creation. All of His covenants point to the fulfillment of His redemption plan through Jesus. All of His story has been written for His glory so that we would see His good and faithful character.
If we believe that the Bible is the authoritative and inerrant Word of God, which I do, then we must believe that God is good. Scripture is full of verses about His goodness. And this means that God must have had a good reason to allow sin to enter the world in the first place. Though we may not fully understand His ways, we can trust His good nature.
Whatever you are going through, rest in God's goodness. Instead of questioning Him, trust Him, bring your pain and sadness and let Him comfort you. Jesus held me through my grieving and remained close to my broken heart. He reminded me that though the world is broken right now, He will ultimately be victorious over sin, evil, and death. All will be made right one day because He is good.
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever,” 1 Chronicles 16:34. To read other verses on God's goodness, you can look at Psalm 34:8 and Psalm 145:9.
The other aspect of God's character that I learned after losing my daughter was that God never changes. According to Hebrews 13:8, we know that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” He is immutable, which means He never changes. He is always the same, even when our perspective of Him changes. Circumstances cannot change God. And this means that all of the attributes of God, such as His goodness, never change either.
God is good all the time. This fact helped me understand that God wasn't punishing me and He hadn't abandoned me. He stayed the same before, during, and after I lost Bridget. Understanding this helped me trust Him.
He was always going to be exactly who He said He was. He would never leave or forsake me, and He will never leave or forsake you either. No matter what you're going through, He loves you and He is for you. If you want to read more verses on God's immutability, you can read James 1:17 and Numbers 23:19.
Next, I learned that God is sovereign. “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens and His Kingdom rules over all,” Psalm 103:19.
God has ultimate power and authority over all of His creation. He has infinite wisdom and knowledge. He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings. In choosing to trust in His sovereignty, I believe that Bridget fulfilled her life as He intended. It is God who numbers our days (Psalm 139:16) and knows the day and hour when we will be welcomed home into His Glory.
It is He who counts the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7) and calls us by name. “We, out of all of His creation, are His most prized possession,” James 1:18. My precious daughter lived the exact number of days that God had planned for her to live since before the creation of the world. God's sovereignty gives me peace.
This truth of His character helps my human mind when it grieves the child I thought she should be right now. As much as my momma heart wallows in the what-ifs and should-have-beens, such as she should be this many years old, I am choosing to believe that she already lived the life that she was meant to live.
And although she never took a breath on this earth, her short life and my short life is but a vapor in comparison to the eternity that we will one day spend together. To read more about God's sovereignty, you can check out 1 Chronicles 29:11-12; Job 42:2; Proverbs 16:9; Proverbs 19:21; and Romans 8:28.
Lastly, God is faithful. “Let us hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful,” Hebrews 10:23. Walking with God through pain has shown me His faithfulness. When I surrendered my suffering to Him, He used my grief for good.
He is the God who brings beauty from ashes and uses what the enemy meant for evil for good, for His ultimate glory. He is the God of redemption and He is faithful to His promises.
To finish the story of the little cradle that my Mom made for Bridget. God called our family to start a nonprofit ministry in memory of Bridget that now comforts thousands of grieving families across the country.
Bridget’s Cradles donates knit and crochet cradles to hold babies born into Heaven to over 1,250 hospitals in all 50 states. I also have the honor of leading Christ-centered support groups called Hope Gatherings with women grieving the loss of their baby.
In living out this calling that God has given me, I have found joy and purpose.
He has healed my broken heart because He has brought me near to His heart. Jesus is my living hope, my Redeemer and Savior, and He is faithful. And He will be faithful to you as well. If you would like more verses on God's faithfulness to study further: Psalm 33:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:3 and 1 Corinthians 1:9.
As we close this short episode today, I would like to say a prayer for all of the moms listening who find themselves in the depths of their grief, wondering how you're going to survive this pain, wondering how you can possibly go on without your precious little baby that you loved and desired so much. I hurt with you, and I want you to know that the Lord is with you in the middle of your pain and will sit with you in your sadness.
So I would like to say a prayer for you and for all of our listeners, that you would allow God to work in your heart and in your grief, that you would lean on God's Word in this time, that you would find comfort in the Truth of who God is, His good and never-changing character.
He is good. He is faithful. He is kind. He is sovereign. He is loving. He's the Alpha, the Omega, the Beginning and the End. He is your friend. He's your Savior. And I pray that you find hope and healing in this message today. Let us pray.
Oh, Lord, thank You for the gift of Your salvation. You are everything to us. Without You, we have no hope. Apart from You, we have nothing. Thank You for the hope that we will get to spend forever in Heaven with You and with our babies that we miss so dearly. Thank You for dying on the cross so that we could be saved.
You overcame the grave so that we could live and our babies could live. And one day You will make everything right and wipe away all of our tears. You will bring Heaven down to earth and we will dwell forever with You. You are good, and You are faithful. We love You, Lord. Amen.
Thank you for listening to the Cradled in Hope Podcast on the Edifi Podcast Network. We pray that you found hope & healing in today’s episode.
Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss new episodes when they release on the 1st and 15th of every month. You can also find this episode’s show notes and a full transcript on our website at bridgetscradles.com/podcast.
There you can also download a free PDF for each episode, called the Hope Guide, which is filled with notes, Scripture, links, discussion questions, and so much more. Be sure to leave your email address so that we can keep you updated on podcast episodes, upcoming support groups, and other hope-filled resources.
If you’re interested in volunteering or donating to Bridget’s Cradles in memory of a baby in Heaven, you can find information on our website on how you can get involved and spread hope to other grieving families.
One way you can help is by leaving a review of this podcast on iTunes [or the Apple Podcasts app]. Consider the minute of your time as a way YOU can personally share the hope that you’ve found here with another mom whose heart is broken and needs healing.
Thank you so much for listening and sharing. Until next time, we will be praying for you. And remember, as Jesus cradles our babies in Heaven, He cradles us in hope. Though we may grieve, we do not grieve without hope.
Cradled in Hope is part of the Edifi Podcast Network, a collection of faith-inspiring podcasts on