Join us for a discussion with Ashley Opliger about the good that came from the birth and death of her daughter, Bridget. Ashley shares how her loss shifted her focus to Heaven and living for God's Kingdom.
In this episode, Ashley encourages grieving moms to draw near to God by reading His Word. She invites moms into a relationship with Him because she believes He is the only One who can heal their broken hearts. His amazing gift of salvation gives us the hope of Heaven with Him and our babies who have gone there before us.
CRADLED IN HOPE PODCAST
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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 1,300 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 35: The Good She Brought Me + Draw Near to Him with Ashley Opliger
Ashley Opliger: [00:00:00] 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.
Ashley Opliger: [00:00:47] Hi friends, and welcome back to another episode of Cradled in Hope. Today it is just me and the Holy Spirit and my microphone coming to you from my home office, really wanting to share what's on my heart and open up this space for us to talk about grieving with hope.
[00:01:09] I have some things I want to share with you, but really I want God to give me the words to speak, and trust that the Holy Spirit will use my words to bring hope and comfort to your heart. And so today I'm just going to share some thoughts and Scripture and know that God is going to use it to minister to each of your hearts exactly where you're at, because I believe that God is a personal God. He is a present God. He is with us in each of our moments, and He's with you right now as you're listening to this.
I don't know if you're doing the dishes or folding laundry or driving in the car. Those are usually the situations where I listen to podcasts, but wherever this finds you, I pray that you would be able to calm your spirit and know that God is with you right now, and that you would soak up His presence so that you would tune into His Spirit, that you would get engaged with His Word.
[00:02:06] Right now, my husband and I are going through the Bible chronologically, and it has been such a blessing because so often we will hear a Bible verse here or there, or see something on Instagram, and even sermons, especially sermons that are not expository preaching, which is verse-by-verse preaching, a lot of times we get little bits and pieces of God, but there's such a treasure in knowing His Word and this whole story of Israel and the Israelites, and how the Old Testament connects to the New Testament and how His promises are never ending, and He's always faithful to these promises, when we’re living in this unique period of time right now after the Cross, but before His Second Coming.
[00:02:49] So we live between His First and Second Coming, which by the way, what a unique and beautiful time to be alive. It can be sometimes scary living in the times that we're living in, but I do believe that we're living in Biblical times and we get to watch God's plans unfold right before our eyes, and we have this amazing, play-by-play playbook that God has given us in His prophecy and His Word, showing us what's to come and what we should be looking for and watching for.
And as these times get darker and darker, not only in the world but in our own lives, as we're experiencing the loss of our baby and we're trying to navigate this deep grief that's come over our life, we have this amazing hope to look forward to. We know that one day God is going to make everything right. He's going to make everything new. And what an encouragement for us to be in His Word and to know that all of these things are true.
Everything He promised before He fulfilled through Jesus coming the first time, He's going to continue to fulfill all of these prophecies that remain, and we have a glorious hope to look forward to. We have the New Heavens and the New Earth, God's ultimate plan of redemption, and one day we will get to be with our children again. So let's pray as we open up this time together and see where God leads this conversation.
Ashley Opliger: [00:04:07]
Lord God, I thank You so much for this podcast and for the ability for You to connect hearts across this country, God. And I thank You so much for the privilege that it is for me to be speaking from my home, but that You can share my voice across the airwaves, God, that we have this community of women that of course we wish we didn't have to be connected because of the loss of our babies. But You've given us this connection where we can grieve together with hope, that we can focus on who You are and this amazing hope that we have in You.
[00:04:42] And so, God, I thank You for this space and this time that we have together. I thank You for Your Word, that Your Word remains true, that You have given us this revelation of who You are and Your story and how everything is going to unfold, God.
And we just are so grateful that we get to live in a time period where our sins have already been forgiven, that You have made the ultimate sacrifice for us when Your Son Jesus came to die for us, that we don't have to atone for our sins by making any sort of animal sacrifices like the Israelites had to do in the Old Testament, God, but that You came and made an eternal sacrifice for us, that our sins are forgiven, paid in full forever and ever, God, and that when we believe in You and we trust that You are our Savior, that You are the Messiah that came, we can look forward to spending eternity in Your presence.
I thank you for sending Your Son. I thank You for His Holy Spirit that lives inside of us right now. I pray over each mom who's listening, God, whose heart is broken, who misses her baby more than her heart can stand. God, I pray over her today that You would be with her, that You would comfort her, that You would give her peace amidst the anxiety and the panic and the fear that so easily entangles us in this grief journey, God. So be with us. Let us focus on You and on Your goodness, and let this time be glorifying to You. It's in Your Son's Holy Name that we pray. Amen.
Ashley Opliger: [00:06:11] This is a topic that I find difficult to talk about, because I think as soon as we try to look for the “silver linings” in pregnancy and infant loss, so many people can get the wrong impression that we're just trying to look for the good in the bad, and that we're trying to spin something that's so devastating and that has so much pain into something that's good.
And sometimes that can make us feel like people are minimizing our grief or that our grief is not validated. And I first of all want to say that when I choose to look for the good that Bridget has brought in my life, I am in no means downplaying the pain that losing her temporarily has caused me or downplaying the magnitude of her loss in our lives.
But I feel as though it would be doing her life and her legacy a disservice if I chose to only focus on the pain and the grief and the sadness and all of those things. Because yes, her loss did cause me incredible grief and sorrow, but on the other hand, her life has radically changed my life for the good, and I believe that I honor her memory and honor her life and honor God who made her the most when I can focus on the good that she has brought into my life.
And so I'm just going to share some areas in my life that I feel that God has worked out for my good and for His glory because of her. And hopefully it would let you reflect on your own baby and the impact that they've made on your life, and open up our perspective to a more eternal perspective.
So first of all, I want to read from 2 Corinthians 4, and this is a section that says Treasure in Jars of Clay. It says:
“Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on all sides but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always consigned to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
And in keeping with what is written, ‘I believed, therefore I have spoken,’ we who have the same spirit of faith also believe and therefore speak, knowing that the One who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in His presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is extending to more and more people may overflow in thanksgiving to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that is far beyond comparison. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Those were the words of Paul to the church of Corinth, and those last few verses about, “our light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that is far beyond comparison,” those verses have been very convicting to me, because a lot of times when I think about the pain and the loss and the grief that I've experienced on this earth, it feels again like someone's minimizing my pain when they refer to that as light and momentary. How could losing a child possibly be a light and momentary affliction?
[00:10:20] However, when we compare it to eternity and we compare anything that we experience on this earth, no matter how devastating or heartbreaking it may be, when we compare this short vapor of a life that we have compared to the eternal glory that is to come and what eternity is going to be, and thousands and thousands and thousands of years with Jesus in Heaven, and after those thousands of years are finished, there'll only be thousands and thousands more, and our earthly minds can barely comprehend eternity, what that looks like and how it would just keep going on and on.
But when we can compare this blip of a life that we're experiencing now, and the struggles that we experience compared to eternity, we can consider these trials and tribulations light and momentary because they truly are momentary. Our separation from our babies is temporary.
That's something that I always like to say, especially when I use the phrase, “I've lost Bridget.” I don't actually believe that I've lost her. First of all, she's in Heaven. She's not lost.
But secondly, and more importantly, a lot of times when we think of death, it seems like a permanent separation, but the hope of the Gospel is that death has lost its sting. Jesus has overcome the grave. And so we as believers do not have to fear death and fear the grave because one day we will be resurrected just like our babies will be. And our babies, their souls right now are living in Heaven.
[00:11:57] And so we have this amazing hope to look forward to and we can try to not minimize our grief and our pain, but we can try to see our pain through the perspective of eternity. And when we do that, that is when we really have an accurate view of our pain in knowing that it's temporary.
In Revelation 21, which you may know as the part of the Bible that talks about the New Heaven and the New Earth, this is after the Thousand-Year Millennium, which if you've listened to past podcasts, I go into Bible prophecy and End Times chronology and the order of events. And so you'll know that the Thousand-Year Millennium, which is outlined in Revelation 20, precedes the New Heaven and the New Earth.
The New Heaven and the New Earth are the final outcome, when the holy city, the New Jerusalem that God has prepared, it will come down from Heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And that is when we will live forever and ever in this good and perfect Paradise. It's going to be essentially Eden redeemed, what God had always prepared, and this is going to be a place without sin and death.
[00:13:13] And so I'm going to read from Revelation 21:3-5. It says:
“Behold the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning, or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away.” And the One seated on the throne said. “Behold, I make all things new.” Then He said, “Write this down for these words are faithful and true.”
I love that! God has given us this amazing promise that He's going to restore Creation to what He had originally designed, a place without sin, without illness, without death, just this perfect Paradise. And this is when we get to dwell with God Himself, God the Father.
[00:14:11] Jesus, of course, is coming back and He's going to live on this current earth in the Millennium, and we'll get to be with Him, with Jesus in that timeframe. But this is when everything is going to be made right and Satan will have been thrown into the Lake of Fire.
There can't be death because the wages of sin is death, and so when sin and Satan are cast away for eternal torment in the Lake of Fire, we will never ever have to worry about separating from our babies again, and we will always be in the presence of God.
And so first of all, I would love for you to go into Revelation 21 and read more about the New Jerusalem and what the New Earth is going to look like.
[00:14:58] You can go down to verse 22 where it talks about the city and how there's not going to be a sun or a moon anymore because God is going to be illuminating the city with the light of Himself and His presence. And it's just going to be the most amazing place! And so I just pray that you would go into Revelation 21 and read that because that gives me so much hope.
[00:15:23] And honestly, as I talk about the Bible, one of the things I mentioned to you that my husband and I are reading a chronological plan and we're going book by book, verse by verse through is that it is so important to read the whole counsel of God, His whole Word.
It's so easy to be distracted. It's so easy for us to interpret the Bible when we take bits and pieces and we cut out different parts, but really to get a good theology around who God is, what His story is, and what we are promised as believers, you really have to get into your Word.
We really have to be studying the Bible for ourselves and not just taking what a pastor says or what someone on a podcast says, including me, by the way. Spending time with the Lord in His Word, I promise you, that will never turn up void, that you will know Him in deeper ways, that questions that you have about Him and His character, about His story, He will be faithful to answer those questions, doubts that you may have.
I am learning something new every single day that I go and read His Word. and it also brings up more questions and things that I want to research and study. And that is part of the sanctification as a believer of learning who God is. And that's something we're always going to be learning, who He is, because He's an infinite, all-knowing, all-powerful God that our earthly minds can't fully comprehend, especially in our mortal bodies. But we've been given this gift in His Word.
[00:16:56] And so as we just read 2 Corinthians and we know that these trials and this loss that we've experienced that is causing our hearts so much pain, we know that this is light and momentary, but how does that change what we actually feel? Because studying the Bible is not just for having more knowledge.
Of course it's for knowledge and knowing His story and history and all of those things, but also it's about drawing into a relationship with Him. The more that you know Him and the more that you desire Him, in James 4:8-10 it tells us, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”
And so this is not just about head knowledge. This is also about heart transformation. And when we spend time with God, that is our goal, not only to learn more about Him from a cognitive theology level, but more so from a heart transformation, that His Word actually changes us. It changes how we feel.
And that's my hope for you is that His Word and His presence would heal your broken heart from the inside out, that the God who created you, that knows you, He counts the hairs on your head. He knows you so intimately from your own mother's womb, and He knows where you’re struggling. He knows where you're doubting. He knows where you're questioning Him. He knows if you're angry with Him.
So often I have moms come in for support groups and say, “I'm just so mad at God. I don't understand how a good God could allow me to lose my baby.”
[00:18:34] And one of the things I say is, “Have you told Him that? Have you expressed these things? Because He is not afraid of our questions. He is big enough to handle your honest truth in how you feel about Him.” Because honestly, sometimes it takes that honesty and vulnerability to God to break through and allow Him to come in and do His work.
And that's ultimately what I want for you, is to find a place where you can just be with Him and draw near to Him so that He can work in your heart and change your heart and change your life.
[00:19:10] And so it's been almost nine years since Bridget went to Heaven, and some days it feels like just yesterday that I held her so carefully in my hands in the cradle that my Mom had knit for her.
I soaked in every second. I tried to memorize her face and features. I distinctly remember just putting my lips on her little nose and on her little lips and trying to freeze time, and closing my eyes and trying to remember exactly what that feels like.
[00:19:40] And to this day, as I'm closing my eyes right now, envisioning it, I can remember exactly what she felt like. And even though that was just such a short amount of time that I got to spend with her, less than 24 hours, I can still remember those things so vividly.
[00:19:58] But other days it feels like there’s this infinite chasm that divides the only moment in time that I had to hold her and the time that keeps on ticking right now. Time can feel elusive like that. And since you've experienced the loss of a baby, you also know how precious those moments are and how fleeting the time seems to disappear into what was and what is now.
[00:20:19] And on this earth, we know we won't get those cherished seconds back, time that was quickly stolen in a desperate attempt to strip us of all the hope or joy. But praise God that we are promised eternity with them.
And so as I'm reflecting on all the good things that God has done in my life because of her life, I often tell people that other than Jesus Himself, I feel that my daughter, Bridget, who never took a breath on this earth, impacted my life more than any other person in this world.
[00:20:51] God knew the number of beats her heart would beat inside my womb, and He had counted the days of her life before they even came to be. And even in those earth-limited days, she came and turned my world upside down and changed my life for the better for all of eternity.
One of the most immediate changes that happened after Bridget went to Heaven was that my focus shifted from thinking only of my time on earth to now focusing on getting to spend eternity with her. It gave me an eternal perspective and fixed my eyes on Heaven more than ever before.
[00:21:28] Burying Bridget and sitting at her grave in the cemetery reminded me that I will not live forever. One day I'm going to die and end up being buried there too, unless the Rapture happens first, which I give a strong possibility to, but that's a conversation for another day and perhaps another podcast.
[00:21:48] But because that fact that I have a mortal body for now until the Resurrection, that used to be an uncomfortable truth for me, but now it's a welcome promise. I get to see her again. I know that eventually we will put on our immortal bodies and that we will get to spend forever there.
I'll read now from 1 Corinthians 15, which I've actually read this verse in a previous podcast, but this is talking about the Resurrection of the dead and how our perishable bodies will be raised imperishable.
This is in verse 42. “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.” And then skipping along to verse 50, it says:
“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
And then again down in verse 55, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
[00:23:08] And so I love so much of 1 Corinthians 15, but this moment, the twinkling of an eye, this is at the Rapture of the Church, when we will get to take part in the Resurrection and at this moment we will be immortal. And so that gives me peace that I do not have to fear my own death or fear what is to come in this world, that I am promised, through Jesus, eternity with Him and my sweet daughter.
[00:23:38] And so that's the first thing, is that it's completely changed my perspective. It's gotten me into God's Word. Bridget's death has caused me to focus on the coming Kingdom and not to be so much focused on this earth.
[00:23:54] However, even though we should be focused on things above, we also have such a short amount of time on earth that we do want to spend our time here wisely. And so that is another area of my life that Bridget's birth and death, God really gave me this calling to start the nonprofit Bridget’s Cradles, but more than that, it was that God really stirred in me this fire to use my life in an urgent manner for His glory.
[00:24:25] I had this moment, I was laying on her nursery floor. I think I still had the hospital band around my wrist, and I was laying in the fetal position on the floor, crying out to God in just so much pain. I was so sad and missing her so much. And here I was with this empty womb, and I think my milk was about to come in, and there were just so many reminders that she wasn't coming home with us and I was no longer pregnant.
[00:24:55] And I remember crying out to God and saying, “Okay, God, if I believe that she's in Heaven with You, which I do believe, and I am banking on that. I'm putting all of my hope in that basket, so to speak, if I'm believing all of that and I'm getting that Truth from Your Word, then I want to believe everything You say in Your Word. I want to live my life completely sold out and all in for You.”
And that was really this major moment of surrender for me, of saying, “Okay, God, I trust You. I believe in You. I'm giving up control.” Not that we even have control, but we like to think we have control over our lives and in the way that our lives are going to go.
[00:25:44] And that's been always such a struggle for me and my life and my walk with God, is that I want to control things and I want things in my life to go a certain way, and often they don't. And so when that happens, there’s discrepancy between reality and expectations, and I think that's a lot of times where this massive disappointment and heartbreak and grief can live.
[00:26:07] But I just said, “Okay, God, I am all in. I want to be living for You.” If I believe this and I believe in Heaven, and I believe that Jesus died for me and I get to go to Heaven one day, I want to be all in and I want to live my life for Him. And so that really just shifted not only my eternal perspective, but my perspective of what we're doing here on earth.
[00:26:30] And though for me, starting the nonprofit and eventually this podcast and various other programs that we have in our ministry, those have all been a part of my calling, really what you could say is that God just lit a fire in me to share the Gospel and to share this hope and wanted to use my particular talents and resources and areas of influence to do that.
[00:26:56] But for each of you, you're going to have a very different assignment from God. You're going to have your own strengths and passions and gifts that He's given you. And so what I'm doing is going to look very different than what you're doing, and that's okay. We're all members of the same body of Christ, and God specifically tells us that we are all going to serve differently.
[00:27:20] And again, we're coming back to 1 Corinthians today. 1 Corinthians 12 is the part that talks about the body of Christ, one body with many members. And it says:
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many are one body, so it is with Christ.”
“For the body does not consist of one member, but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less part of the body.
And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them as He chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
And so chapter 12 continues to go on in the analogy of the Body of Christ and the Church being made up of all these different members, but essentially we're told we all have unique giftings and we all have unique skill sets and passions.
[00:28:30] And so no matter what it is that you do, no matter how big or small, serving others and carrying out the Great Commission that God has given us, which is to make disciples, that's your calling.
Really, if you think about it, every Christian's calling is to make disciples. That's it. You could summarize every Christian's calling as: We are to make disciples who make disciples. And so we are to be sharing the Gospel and sharing about the hope of our salvation to an unbelieving world.
[00:29:03] So whatever it is that you do, if you are using your gifts and your pain and your heartbreak for that purpose, then you are living out the calling that God has given you.
And I believe that God wants to use our pain for a purpose and He wants to use our grief for good. I know those are kind of those cliché alliterations, but truly I do believe that God wants to bring beauty from our ashes.
[00:29:29] God is a Redeemer and He likes to redeem broken things. God did not intend for this earth to be broken. In His sovereignty, He knew that it would be broken. He knew that we would struggle with sin and death and all of these things, but He is good at making good come from things that were meant to destroy us, that were meant for evil. That's what I love about God, is that He is a God of Redemption.
[00:29:54] And so I pray that you would lean into whatever giftings you have, whatever resources you have. It doesn't have to be much. It doesn't have to be any sort of grand gesture. If it's as simple as a conversation with someone, taking someone out to lunch, there are so many things that you can do to share the hope of Christ with the world.
[00:30:12] Another area of my life that has significantly been impacted because of Bridget has been in the area of friendships, and that has been such a blessing. The people that I have met because of her life.
Not just through the ministry; obviously, I meet a lot of grieving moms and volunteers and supporters of the ministry through Bridget’s Cradles, but simply from being a bereaved mom myself, the conversations and the friendships that I'm able to have in meeting other women who have experienced this kind of loss, it has brought some of the deepest, most vulnerable friendships that I've ever had.
And I feel like I've been so blessed to have supportive, encouraging friends who understand my pain and who have been there to be a shoulder to cry on and to remember the milestones, Bridget's Heaven Day, and to honor her on those days.
[00:31:11] And I'm praying that you have those people too. And please understand that I know friendship can be an area that can also be a source of pain after you've lost a baby. I know this because I lost friendships after I lost Bridget. There were people in my life that didn't know how to support me, and I found it hard to be close to people who didn't acknowledge Bridget and acknowledge my pain.
[00:31:38] And so please understand that I do know that this can be a source of pain as well, but I am also praying that whether it's through a support group or through meeting someone in your friend circle or through an online group, that you can meet some other women who have experienced this that can walk alongside of you. And if you don't have a community of women walking through your grief journey with you, I want to welcome you to our Cradled in Hope Facebook Group.
[00:32:06] First of all, that's a great place to be, just to meet other moms. You can look it up on Facebook and find it also on our Bridget's Cradles page, but we also have online support groups called Hope Online, and it's actually one that I lead on Zoom every month. And that is such a beautiful time to hear other women's stories and to talk about our grief and our pain, and I have a message that I share each month.
[00:32:30] And so please come to that. You're not going to be put on the spot or anything awkward, but it is a time to meet other women who are walking this journey. So I just want to invite you to come to our next support group. Go onto our website under Events and you'll find those support group dates; you can sign up.
[00:32:49] It's also in our Instagram link bio. You can find the next date there, and you can sign up and RSVP for those. If you're local to Wichita, Kansas, we have in-person support groups and different remembrance events going on all throughout the year. So be sure to be following our Instagram and Facebook for that as well as our website.
But please get plugged into some sort of support group or community of like-minded Christian women who are grieving with you, because there's so much power in community, because I really believe that Satan wants to keep us isolated.
He wants to keep us lonely, feeling like we're the only one in the world that knows this kind of pain. And when we are isolated and weak because we are grieving, that is an opportunity for Satan, who likes to prowl around like a lion, for him to see us as weak and vulnerable and for him to use that opportunity to whisper his lies and to try to make us doubt God's goodness and question our faith.
And so when you're surrounded with other women who believe and can point you toward hope, even though we're in the midst of pain, the hope of Heaven doesn't take all of our heartbreak. We're still humans with emotions and we still are moms who are missing our babies, and nothing can change that fact.
But when we are surrounded with other women who can continually encourage us and support us, we are better guarded against the lies of the enemy, who wants to use your loss to steal, kill and destroy, which is what he does best.
[00:34:29] So please join our Facebook group, share your story, and introduce yourself to our community of moms. And I would love to meet you face to face, in person or online in our online support group.
So lastly, as I'm coming to a close, I'm praying that in all the ways that God is using your pain for purpose, that in all the ways that God has brought good from your loss, I pray that you would be able to reflect on those things.
Maybe it's taking a notebook and writing down where you see God working in the middle of your grief, or maybe reflecting back on it and thinking about the hidden blessings.
[00:35:11] I know it feels counterintuitive to be thinking of your loss in this way because it is such a painful part of your life. And like I told you before, it does not minimize your grief. Your grief is validated. But what it does is that it gives honor to your baby and it brings you to a place where you can move forward and look forward with hope.
So I'm going to pray that God would allow you to have open eyes to see His goodness in the midst of this, and that He would also give you opportunities to live out the calling and to share the hope that you have with others.
[00:35:52] I'm going to close us in prayer, but I would love for this episode to be a little more interactive in the sense that I would love to hear from you after you listen to this. So often it feels like I'm talking into a microphone and I don't get to see your faces, and I really wish that I could.
And so if you could join that group and share what's on your heart after listening to this episode or even send me an email, you can email me at ashley[at]bridgetscradles.com (that's my personal email address).
[00:36:22] Please reach out and share what's on your heart. Let me pray for you by name. I really love doing podcasts, but I really love the personal one-on-one ministry even more so. Please do reach out. Please know that I'm praying for you and know that God is good. He's good all the time. He's walking with you. He loves you so much. And I'm going to pray for you right now.
Ashley Opliger: [00:36:47]
Dear God, I thank You so much for the gift of our babies. I thank You that You made us their moms, that we have such a high and privileged calling to be a mom to a baby in Heaven, God. Even though our arms long to hold them, and our hearts just ache from missing them so much, I pray that You would give us Your peace and Your comfort to remember and celebrate their lives, and focus on the amazing blessing that they have given us and the lessons they have taught us, God.
We are not separated from them forever, and I thank You that one day we will hold them again. We will dance through the streets of the New Jerusalem with them, praising Your Name forever, God.
[00:37:33] And when we are in that beautiful place where every tear has been wiped away, and we will never have to fear that we will be separated again, God, and the light of Your presence will fill our sight, Lord, and there will be no more evil, there will be no more illness, no more sin, no more death, when we're in that place and we reflect back on this broken time on earth, we will look back and realize that yes, these afflictions that we carry and we walk through right now, they were light and momentary because they will one day be no more.
[00:38:08] God, thank You so much that we get to have that hope. Will You keep us focused on that? When the world wants to distract us, when Satan wants to lie to us about where our hope comes from, let us be reminded that our help comes from You, the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and earth, that we can lift our eyes up to the hills, that You watch over us, that You have a good, hope-filled future for us, Lord, that You will make us laugh again, smile again. You'll bring joy to our hearts again, You will give us purpose in this.
God, You are a redeemer. You will turn ashes into beauty. You will bring light from darkness, God. You are capable of all these things when we surrender our hearts to You. And so I pray that each mom would be able to surrender not only her grief, but her life to You.
[00:39:02] God, if there's anyone that's listening who doesn't have a relationship with You, I pray that this would be the seed planted in their heart to make a decision to follow You, God. It's the best decision anyone could ever make, Lord. It is a matter of life and death. Having faith in You is the difference between spending eternity apart from You in Hell and spending eternity forever in Your presence in Heaven.
God, I pray for anyone who is seeking You, who wants to know You, Lord, that they would turn to You, that they would call on You as the Savior of their sins. The only One who can make us right before You is Jesus.
And so God, I pray for the mom right now who's listening, who wants to turn her life over to You, Lord. She wants to surrender everything. She believes that her baby is in Heaven. We thank You for that gift, God. But she wants to see her baby again. She wants to hold her baby again, not just because she wants to hold her baby, but because she believes and loves You, Lord.
And so for that mom, who's making that decision right now, Lord, first of all, I thank You for her life. I thank You for making her. I thank You for the amazing gift of salvation, that You can save us from devastation, but bring us into everlasting joy and peace with You.
And for every single mom who's listening, God, I pray that Your presence would fill their hearts, that You would bring them into not just head knowledge of You, but heart transformation, that You would heal their broken hearts, that You would be present in their pain, that You would sit in their sadness, God.
You are Emmanuel, God is with us. You came for us. You're coming back again for us. We anticipate Your Second Coming. We anticipate the Rapture of Your Church, God. We thank You that we have this Blessed Hope to look forward to.
[00:41:01] No matter how dark this world gets, God, You are the light of the world. You have overcome the world. We can take heart because You are a good God who loves us, and You are coming back for Your Bride. Keep us focused on that fact. Let our hearts not be troubled. Let us rejoice in our salvation and in our hope of eternity.
[00:41:22] Thank You for this time together, Lord; we are so grateful for Your Word, so grateful for Your Son. It's in His Name we pray these things. Amen.
Ashley Opliger: [00:42:27] Thank you, mommas, for listening. If anyone made that decision to follow Jesus, it would bless me to no end to be able to pray for you and to encourage you. If you made that decision, will you please email me?
[00:41:46] Will you write it in the group so that we can all be surrounding you and praying for you? I’d love to hear each of your stories and your babies’ stories in our Facebook group and so I look forward to meeting you there.
We have many great interviews coming for the next couple of months, and so be sure to tune in on the first every month for new episodes that will be coming. I have some really great women that are going to be telling their stories and I think you will be so blessed by their testimonies. So please stick around for upcoming episodes. And I will be continuing to pray for you. Love you all.
Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss new episodes when they release on the 1st 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 Edifi, the world’s most powerful Christian podcasting app. To listen to Cradled in Hope and find other podcasts by leading Christian voices, download the Edifi app in the Apple and Google Play stores or online at edifi.app. Thank you so much for listening.
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