Join us for this special 3-part summer series called "Conversations of Hope with Ashley and Kristin."
Ashley Opliger and Kristin Hernandez are both bereaved moms who desire to point other grieving moms to the hope they've found in Jesus.
New episodes will release each summer month (June, July, and August) with this month's episode title being "A Foundation of Biblical Hope."
In this episode, we discussed:
Where do we place our hope after we've lost a baby?
What is "hope" anyway?
Desiring to have a rainbow baby - is it okay to long for another baby?
Releasing control and surrendering our plans to God
Understanding how to interpret Bible stories
"Even If" kind of faith
God as the redeemer
Our identity as mothers vs. our identity in Christ
God won't leave you empty-handed
How can my loss be considered "light and momentary"?
Standing on Christ the Solid Rock
Full transcript below.
MEET OUR GUEST
Kristin Hernandez is the author of Sunlight in December.
Kristin is a writer, podcaster, wife, and mother to six children—one in her arms and five with Jesus.
Connect with Kristin:
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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 30,000 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.
Connect with Ashley:
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Episode 38: Conversation of Hope with Ashley and Kristin
A Foundation of Biblical Hope
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: [00:00:50] Hello everyone. Thank you so much for your grace and patience as we postponed the June's episode release date by two weeks. The summertime is a bit crazy for us here at Bridget's Cradles. We just had our Bereaved Father's Day event this past weekend, and we are in full swing planning our Wave of Light event that will be held in October.
I am so excited to share with you our plans for the podcast this summer. For the next three months (so this month, June, and then July and August), I am going to be having my good friend and fellow loss mom, Kristin Hernandez, on for a summer series that we are calling Conversations of Hope with Ashley and Kristin.
In today's episode, we are going to be setting the stage for the topics that we'll discuss in the months to come. So today we're going to talk about Biblical Hope: Where do we put our hope when we've lost a baby?
Then next month we will be discussing grieving and healing, and some often-asked questions such as, “Is my baby an angel? Where is my baby? Is it okay to talk to my baby? Can my baby send me signs from Heaven?”
And we're also going to talk about some concerning New Age practices we are starting to see come into the pregnancy loss grief space and why we want to encourage you to guard your heart away from these popular practices. So be sure to tune in on July 1st for that conversation.
And lastly, our August episode is going to be a conversation based on questions that you, our listeners, ask us and topics that you care about. So there will be two ways you can submit your questions and topic ideas to us.
Number one is we now have a podcast survey. It's a new survey that we're going to be collecting over the summer months, and we want to hear from you about what you like about the podcast, what you think we could do better, what topics you want discussed more often.
So head over to bridgetscradles.com/podcastsurvey and this is a short, five-minute survey and you can do it anonymously if you want to. You don't have to put your name, but that's bridgetscradles.com/podcastsurvey.
We will also post about that in the Cradled in Hope Facebook community group about it, and you can submit your questions to Kristin and I in that group as well. We'll make a post specific about submitting questions.
So again, that is bridgetscradles.com/podcastsurvey. We're going to do a little giveaway package for a grieving mom that submits that survey. You will need to include your name if you want to be considered for the random drawing. But we're going to be giving away a special string art board sign, some nail appliqués, a grief journal, and more in this really special care package.
So please go ahead, it will only take five minutes, but this is just an opportunity for you to share about the impact the podcast has made on you and your grieving journey, what you like about the podcast, what you wish we did more of, if you have ideas on future guests that you want to submit for us to consider. All of that can be found in the survey and we would love to hear from you.
Okay, so finally I have one more announcement. This is our two-year anniversary of the podcast being in existence, and we just want to say thank you for listening and for trusting us with your heart during this time. We do not take that calling lightly, and we pray that this podcast has helped point you to the hope of Christ, who is the only One who can heal your heart.
So thank you so much for listening. We hope you enjoy this summer series with Kristin and I, and thank you so much for being a part of this community. We love you, and I hope you enjoy this episode.
Ashley Opliger: [00:04:26] Welcome, Kristin. I'm so glad to have you back on the Cradled in Hope Podcast, and I'm excited to have this summer series with you, where we're going to be addressing important topics within the grief space for pregnancy and infant loss.
And we have the next three months to go through different topics and questions that we often get asked or that come up within each of our communities and our ministries, and I think this is going to be a really wonderful and fruitful time. And I'm just so grateful for your friendship and your ministry and all the ways that you pour into grieving moms’ lives, so thanks for being here.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:05:01] Thanks so much for having me. It's always so much fun to talk with you. And I don't know if fun sometimes is the right word in this space, but I think it is because we are able to encourage one another and laugh together, even though it's often sprinkled in with tears and grief.
And we know that the topics we talk about here can be heavy, and yet there can be so much joy having sisters who've been there. And it is always just such a joy, and I'll go ahead and just claim that word fun. It's always fun to talk with you, Ashley. So thanks so much for having me back.
Ashley Opliger: [00:05:30] Thank you, Kristin. And what's neat to me is that you and I, between all of the podcast episodes that we've done together, we have developed a friendship and we talk often, and it feels as though the conversations that we have privately are spilling into these public conversations because we are talking a lot about these different struggles and different topics because we both are in ministries where we are reaching grieving moms, and building that community.
And so much of what we're going to share today and throughout the next couple of months, these are conversations you and I have already had, and so I'm excited to let everyone in on some of our conversations.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:06:11] Yeah, the more the merrier.
Ashley Opliger: [00:06:13] All right. Well, today's topic is going to be on Biblical Hope, and where do we put our hope after we've lost a baby or babies? Because so often culture will push us to move on and to be strong and to try to see the silver lining.
And for anyone who's listened to this podcast, you know that I believe in trying to use your grief for good and to find purpose in your pain. But that doesn't necessarily mean that everything that people say to you after you lost a baby, such as, “Heaven needed another angel,” which we're going to talk about that later in another episode, that babies aren't angels and that's a good thing. Or that, “You're young, you're going to be able to have another baby,” or something like that. Or, “You already have three living children.” And it's just quite bizarre that people feel as though those kinds of statements are comforting to someone who's lost a baby.
And so often, I feel like as moms, we do sometimes put hope in being able to have another baby, even though we may not think that, oh, that's actually our hope. It might be, where we're really focused on trying to control our fertility or try to stuff some of our grief down and look toward the future.
I know you've written about this a lot, and this is a topic that's near and dear to your heart, so I'm just going to open it up to you to share your thoughts on Biblical Hope and the promise of what's to come after you lost a baby.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:07:45] Yeah. There's so much we could say about this. I mean, we could have like a five-hour podcast conversation about hope and where we place our hope and where we're fixing our eyes as we grieve. And I think, and I know you would agree with me in this, Ashley, when I say to anyone listening that babies are a gift from God. And there's nothing wrong with desiring a rainbow baby if you want to use that term. There's nothing wrong with desiring more pregnancies. There's nothing wrong with desiring these good gifts that God often gives us.
And I think through my story there was just this period of waiting. And I know that we mentioned some of the episodes you can go back to and listen to my full story, but briefly, after we lost our first son, Ethan, who died from a diagnosis that I received during pregnancy and we carried him to term, after he passed away, we had multiple miscarriages. And it was in that time I kept wondering, “Lord, how is this story going to end? Where is the hope in my story?”
And at the time, I had started writing Sunlight in December, my book and I didn't know how to end the book. And I remember distinctly where I was; I was driving home from visiting a friend and I remember the Lord really just impressing it on my heart. And it wasn't a clear message in front of me.
It wasn't an audible voice. I think it was just the Holy Spirit really stirring in me as I was driving, and I was thinking and just wrestling with God, of, “God, when am I going to get to the end of this story so that I know how to end? I'm almost done with this book and I don't know how to end it, because I feel like there's just no hope in it.”
And I remember the Holy Spirit just stirring in me this idea of, “You're looking in the wrong place,” Basically, “End the book now because there is hope now. And what if you never have children in your house? What does your life look like if you never have babies? Who am I to you?” Who is God to us if He never gives us the earthly gift that we desire so deeply?
And again, those are good gifts from God. There is nothing wrong with wanting those things. We are not saying that those are bad things. Those are incredible things, and children are a gift from the Lord and we celebrate every time a new life comes into this world. And yet even the best things on earth that are not God can become idols in our hearts when it becomes our greatest hope. And a lot of times we place our hope in things that are not God’s promises.
And I've been studying the word hope a lot for different projects I've been working on. And hope, when you look at the Greek, is this word “elpis”, and it means a confident and sure assurance of something. And it's often specifically referring to Biblical hope of Christ's return, and of our salvation as believers, and of these theological things that we know are true.
And so when we read the word hope throughout Scripture, it's never synonymous with desire or wishing for something, which I know that I use the word hope all the time without even thinking about it. Like, “I really hope that next summer we can go visit this family.” Like, “I really hope that we can do this,” or, “I hope that works out.”
And again, I'm not bashing on us for using it. I think culturally that's how we use the word, but I think we have to be careful because when we're looking at things Biblically, that's never how that word is used. It's always used as we are confident and sure of something that's going to happen.
And so when we say we have hope and we're holding onto hope, we're holding onto this confidence of what Scripture does promise us to be true.
And sometimes the things that we desire most in life that aren't Christ, that again are the good gifts that He gives us that are separate from our salvation, separate from our redemption, separate from all the gifts we have in Him, when we desire those the most, a lot of those things aren't things that are necessarily promised to us. And so what are we left with when those things do not happen?
Ashley Opliger: [00:11:39] Absolutely, and I think that's the place where disappointment lives and when it's very easy to turn our backs on God because we've desired this, we've asked God for this, we've prayed and fasted and done all the things that we can do, and felt like this is a good, godly desire. Motherhood is a gift. Babies are a gift. And so when we don't receive those blessings, and also sometimes when we don't receive them in our own timing, the timing that we want, sometimes we feel as though God has abandoned us or rejected us.
And that's another reminder for us that we know it's not God's character. That's not what the Bible tells us about who He is and who He is to us. And I think a lot of times we hinge our hope on worldly things that are always changing.
Circumstances are always going to change, and there's really nothing in this world that is a sturdy foundation to put your hope on. And when we have Christ the Solid Rock, He is that foundation where we can hinge our hope and that is going to be fulfilled. Our salvation is secure in Him.
And one of the things that, through my journey after Bridget, going through infertility, was that I realized how much I was trying to control my life. I wanted my family to look the way that I'd always thought it would be. I wanted the timing of my children to be this many children in this many years and all of those things.
And as little girls, even growing up, you think about being a mom and you plan out your family and start thinking of names. And that was always a dream of mine, was to be a mom. And when we lost Bridget, our first child, and then we struggled with infertility and it was like, “Are we going to be able to have living children,” I really questioned my body's ability to bring life into the world.
And one of the things that God really had to impress on me in that sanctifying season was I don't have control over anything. I thought I had control over my life, but I don't. And I really need to surrender to His will and His plan, and trust that He's going to work it out for my good and for His glory, even if it's parts of my story that I wish weren't part of my story, or even if my family looks differently than I wanted my family to look.
There is a contentment and peace that comes when you fully surrender and say, “God, I want to follow You and to live my life in a way that honors You, and I'm going to trust You no matter what, even if X, Y, and Z.”
And so I want to talk now about Even if kind of faith, and I'm going to read from Daniel chapter three here in a minute, but do you want to elaborate on what that looks like practically, living in a space where you're hoping and you're wishing and you're desiring these things, but those desires are not being fulfilled?
What practical ideas would you have for us when we're in this waiting season or this season of tension where our expectations and reality, there's disappointment in between those?
Kristin Hernandez: [00:14:54] Well, I want to acknowledge that is a really difficult place to live, and neither of us are trying to sugarcoat that or say, “Just trust God and move on.”
Yes, we absolutely should trust God, but what does that look like when our hearts are broken? And I do understand that there is such a tension like we see throughout Scripture that God opens barren wombs and so we know that He can, but what if He doesn't? And we see throughout Scripture, God performs these wonderful miracles, and yet at times He does not.
And so when we are living in this season in our lives of seeing that not be the case for us, I think sometimes it's so tempting for us to forget that God can do those things, first off, and also that He cares and that He is in the details, and that it doesn't mean that He's withholding a promise from us.
Because some of the promises of those miracles and of those children that are given to women, as we're reading these stories in Scripture, I think sometimes we see specific promises given to a specific person in a specific time, and we think that it applies to every single person.
And so when it doesn't happen to us, if it were true that this promise is for every believer, then of course we would feel shorthanded and feel like, “God, where were You? This was a promise.” But when we really study our Bibles, which is so important for all of us, no matter what, to realize the context and that this was written to this person, and this is why, it doesn't necessarily make the pain go away. We can still grieve.
And God welcomes us to grieve and lament when we are in that season of no or not yet for something we are asking for. We still have the invitation to be sad. We by no means are saying, “Just smack a smile on your face and get over it.” God welcomes us to grieve because a lot of these unfulfilled desires that we place our hope in that are like these hopes that may let us down, it is easy for us to feel looked over.
And when we realize that this isn't necessarily a promise that is to us specifically, we can be reminded that there are other promises that are to us specifically, that are all to God's children.
We know that our babies are not suffering. We know where they are. We know what our identity is. We know that we do have a hope that one day, all of this will not be this way anymore.
And again, some of these hopes we have that are unfulfilled or these earthly desires we have that are unfulfilled are the results of the Fall, because there was a time when childbirth would not have been hard. There was a time when there was no death.
Infertility is a result of the Fall. It is not how the world was when God created it and everything was perfect and He said, “It is good.” It is after sin entered the world and tainted everything that it became like this.
And so when we are sad over these things, that is not a bad thing. That actually is an appropriate response to living in a world that is broken, that was not meant to be this way, because all of these things break God's heart too. And all of these things are things that He will restore one day.
And so again, it is okay to be sad over these things because when we are sad over these things and we lament over these things, our hearts are in line with what God also calls good.
But with that, something I think about a lot when talking about this whole idea is, I remember when we were walking through our diagnosis with Ethan, a lot of people said things to me like, “He's just going to be fine. I just have a really good feeling about it. He's going to be okay. I just have a feeling.” They would say things like, “We're just going to pray. Doctors are wrong all the time.”
They would give me all of these attempts to encourage me and give me hope and to place hope, again, not in bad things, but in things that were not the end goal. And a lot of those words were words I heard again after he died. It was, “You'll have more children.” We were walking through infertility. We were walking through miscarriage, Like, “Just wait, give it time. It'll happen. Just relax.”
Even retrospectively, now that we do have a living child, I've had people come to me after hearing my story and almost talk about it like, “I'm so glad that you finally got the happy ending to your story.”
And I want to be careful here how I word this, because I don't want to diminish at all the joy that it is to raise my son who is here with me. I am glad that God gave me this opportunity. It is one of the greatest joys of my life, like the greatest earthly gifts I've ever been given. And I am so grateful and it is a gift from God.
However, God's goodness was not contingent on whether that would happen or not. That is not the redemption in our story. One Baby would redeem us for all time, and that was Jesus. The one miracle that any of us need to have eternal joy and to have eternity with our loved ones who have died with Christ, that this one thing that will truly bring us hope, we already have that fulfilled in Jesus.
And so Jesus is the Baby who redeems our story. Another baby does not redeem our story. A good diagnosis, like a good prognosis at the doctor's office, does not redeem our story. Finally getting the job that we've been praying for does not redeem our story.
These, again, are things that we should tell God, “Thank You,” for. They are good gifts from the Lord. But when we do not receive those things, we still have redemption. We still have this greatest hope.
And so I think we also have to be careful how we encourage others because we say a lot of empty phrases, often laced with pure intentions, and we'll say things to people like, “I just have a feeling he's going to be fine.” And yes, he is fine. He's with the Lord. He is more fine than he would've been had he been born without any health complications.
However, I knew those people meant, “I think he's just going to be born and there's going to be no health complications,” because God gives health and He heals and He's a healer, and none of those things are untrue when we have difficult circumstances.
Ashley Opliger: [00:21:17] We hope you are enjoying this episode so far. We want to take a quick break to tell you about some resources our ministry provides to grieving moms.
On our website, bridgetscradles.com, you can find hope-filled resources on grieving and healing including memorial ideas, quotes & Scripture, featured stories, and recommended books and other organizations. We share ideas on how to navigate difficult days such as due dates, Heaven Days, and holidays.
In addition, every month I lead Christ-centered support groups for bereaved moms called Hope Gatherings, both in-person and online. You can find a list of upcoming dates and sign up for our next support group on our website.
Lastly, we would love for you to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. You can find us on these three pages: @bridgetscradles, @cradledinhope, and my personal page @ashleyopliger. You can also join our private Cradled in Hope Facebook group for grieving moms to find community. We would be honored to hear your baby’s story and be praying for you by name. Now let’s get back to our episode.
Ashley Opliger: [00:22:26] I love that you shared that our hope can't be in another baby, even though we might desire that and God might give us that gift. But even if we are given that gift, think of the heavy weight that we would be placing on that living child to be our savior, in a sense, to be the one that brings us all joy again and brings us hope. And it’s like this is our redemption.
And I think of my two boys that I've had since losing Bridget, neither of them have fixed my grief. Neither of them have replaced Bridget. Neither of them have been able to redeem my story in a way that's eternal.
Like you, I believe that motherhood is such a gift, and I love both of my boys. I can't imagine my life without them, but ultimately, my identity isn't entirely wrapped up in motherhood. Even though motherhood is very important, it is one of my top priorities in life, my identity has to be in Christ, because motherhood is a role that He's given me but it's not my entire identity.
And I think sometimes we can get wrapped up in the identity of wanting to be a mom or being a mom, or even being a loss mom. And that's something that I'm sure most people listening, they would identify, both you and I, being leaders in ministry, it was like, “That's a loss mom.”
But so many times I want to say, “That's not what defines me.” Yes, I've lost a baby. Yes, I run a ministry and I am passionate about sharing hope and walking alongside women who are grieving, but that is not what defines my life. And you can almost get into a victimhood mindset when your identity gets wrapped around a trauma or a tragedy or a loss that's happened in your life, because that becomes the thing, and it can become an idol in a very weird way.
And likewise, that desire for a baby or the rainbow baby can be put up on this pedestal, like, “This baby is supposed to fulfill me.” And in the same way I would relate it to marriage. Our husbands are a gift to us, and marriage is a gift and is supposed to be a reflection of Christ and the church. But at the same time, I can't look to my husband to fulfill every need and every desire because he's not my savior, just like my children are not my savior.
And so having a right hierarchy of priorities, that God is first and then family, and that includes marriage and children on earth and in Heaven, I think is really helpful.
And so one of the things that I heard a pastor say is that whatever you fear losing the most is where you trust God the least.
And that really hit home at one point for me because I think that losing a child has been my greatest fear. And that made me realize, “Yeah, I don't really trust God in this area because I want to control and protect.” And of course, as mothers, that's part of our instinct that God has given us is to protect and to nurture and to love.
But even with my living children, something could happen to them. And as hard as it is to imagine that, and of course I pray that nothing does. I can't have everything hinged on them.
And I also have to understand I can't control everything even with my living children and how they navigate this broken world and what happens to them. And it's a really hard place to get to where you're fully surrendered. And it's not something that happens overnight. It's not something that you do once and then never have to do again. It's truly a daily surrender and trust.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:26:11] Piggybacking off of what you said, Ashley, I am still struggling with this. We are preaching to ourselves here; I recognize that. And so I know for listeners it could be easy to be like, “Well, that's great. They're at this place of trusting God.” We are in it with you.
I worry about my living son far more than I should. That is an area that I am continually bringing before the Lord and asking Him to help me surrender the fears that I have, the anxiety that I have when he gets sick, just to really trust God with that and not spiral.
And so I just want everyone listening to, to know that this is something that I am still growing in. I have not fully figured it out. And God is continually sanctifying all of us in this area.
And so we do need to be surrendering this to Him and allowing Him to help us, because we do not have the strength in us on our own to just suddenly to be perfect, I guess. We'll never be perfect and only Jesus was perfect.
And God is continually sanctifying us and making us more and more like Him and growing us in holiness. And so we are still in it with you, for those of you who are listening, working on surrendering these areas that we trust the least to God, because He wants us to surrender all of it to Him, and to remember that God does not leave us empty-handed.
And I know for those of you who are listening, you probably feel like your arms are the most empty or at some stage in your life they probably have felt incredibly empty and have ached with emptiness. And I am with you in that. I feel so heavy-hearted with you over that feeling. I know that feeling. That is one of the most difficult feelings that I've ever carried.
And I always think of something my pastor's wife, the church we were at the time when we were walking through the diagnosis with Ethan. I always think of something that she shared with me, and after months of hearing people say things to me like, “He's going to be fine. You'll have more children. Doctors are probably wrong. He's going to be born and there's going to be nothing there. Just wait and see what God can do.”
And while God can do those things, I didn't know if He would, because I saw all these examples through Scripture of times when people did suffer. Most of the disciples were martyred for their faith. They suffered incredibly more than many of us can imagine. David lost a son, Job lost everything. We see so many Scriptural examples of people losing things.
And I thought, “I know God can do this, but what if He doesn't?” And I struggled with this. “Do I trust God when all of these people are telling me things that they think God is going to do for me? And I don't know if God will, because Biblically, I can't fully say that is a promise.”
And I'll always remember something Debbie said to me, my pastor's wife at the time. She had gone through loss herself about 30 years before I had, and so she had many more years of sanctification and learning since the loss of her son, and still was very honest with me about the ways that losing her son, that grief, had impacted her life for good and for bad, for better or worse, and was still carrying that grief, but walking with the Lord as she carried this grief.
And 30 years later, I remember, with tears in her eyes she said something to me that was far more encouraging than any empty promise that other people were trying to make with good intentions. It was far more encouraging to me than hearing that he would be born healthy, and it was far more encouraging to me than hearing that God would give me many children after this experience.
I remember that she, with teary eyes, which means she entered into my pain with me, she took my hand and I remember she said, “God will not leave you empty handed. And I know your arms probably feel so empty right now, and I don't know what He is going to put in your hands, but I do know that God does not leave His children empty handed.”
And it makes me think of two Scriptures that I want to share. The first is Psalm 107:9, which says, “For He satisfies the longing soul and the hungry soul He fills with good things.”
And in Matthew 7:11, Jesus says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him?”
And so our Heavenly Father loves you. He loves us. And like a loving father, He will provide and He will satisfy you and He will fill your arms with good things. And I know that in our flesh, in this world, when we have not seen Heaven yet, we don't know how wonderful it will be for us one day.
It is hard when the things that we are dealing with now do not feel good. And we may think that the things we want here in this world are the highest form of good that we can ask for. And while, yes, those are often good things, again, nothing wrong with praying and asking God for those things, you can still ask Him for those things, to know that God still will fill your arms with something and that your value is not resting on whether God answers that specific earthly prayer that you are asking for, your identity and how much He loves you and your inheritance that you have waiting for you one day is not resting on whether He places the earthly gift that you were asking for in your hands.
And so we can continue to ask and petition and fast and pray and beg and come before the Lord pleading for these things. And it makes me think of Jesus, who, on the night before He would be crucified, the night He was betrayed, how He even came to the Father and pleaded with Him with blood droplets of sweat forming on His brow.
It says He was distressed to the point of death, desperately pleading with God. We can plead with God in that way, and yet may our words echo Jesus' words when He said, “But God,” after He's asking God if there's another way to do this, “Please make it so. But not My will, but Your will be done,” which basically means that, “I trust You.”
So we can plead on our knees and with tears, “Lord, I want this gift. I am desiring this,” and also in the next breath, “but Lord, I trust what You have decided and I love You, and I choose to follow You and know that You have only good things for me, even if this specific dream does not come to fruition in this lifetime.”
Ashley Opliger: [00:32:31] Absolutely. And that brings me back to the Even if kind of faith.
And you may have heard the Even if kind of faith, but where that comes from is in the book of Daniel, and this was written back when the Jews were in captivity in Babylon, under King Nebuchadezzar’s rule. And so there were these three brave men, who were Jews, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego, and they were living in captivity.
And basically King Nebuchadezzar’, he wanted everyone to bow down to this gold statue of himself and worship it. And these three men, and I'll read straight from Scripture here in a minute, these three men basically said, “We're not going to do that.” And I'm going to pick up here in Daniel 3:16. So this is what Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego replied to the king. They said:
“We do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty's hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
So then of course the king was furious, and now I'm paraphrasing here, and he actually ordered the furnace to be heated up seven times hotter than normal. And he took his strongest soldiers and tied them up and threw them into this blazing furnace.
So again, I want to reiterate that this story is about these three specific men in a specific time period in history. But when you're reading the Bible, even though this story isn't about us, you can still glean from God's character and how He works and also be inspired by their faith.
And so these three men said, “We're willing to go into this furnace and we're not going to bow down to you. And we know that God can deliver us from the furnace, but even if He doesn't, we're still going to worship Him. We're going to trust Him. We're going to follow Him.”
And I think that's such a beautiful picture for us as we're going through trials, is that the furnace is hot, and this is a painful, scary experience for these men. And likewise, as we're going through infertility and loss, there's fear, there is anxiety, there's depression, there's sadness, all of these things. But we can choose to trust Him in the midst of it, even if He doesn't give us the desires that we want, and even when we know, like you said, He is capable and He is able to do these things.
And sometimes that's the hardest thing to reconcile is that God can, but He didn't. He didn't answer my prayer for the subchorionic hemorrhage during Bridget's pregnancy to go away. He didn't answer my prayer for her to go full term and be born alive. These were things that He allowed that I wish wasn't part of my story.
But when we're faced with these trials in our life, we really have the opportunity to lean in and trust Him Even If. Or we can turn our backs and say, “Okay, God, You didn't give me what I wanted in my timing,” or, “This has happened to me and it doesn't feel good. I know in my mind that You're a good God, but You don't feel good to me, so You must not love or care about me. And so I'm going to go my own way.”
And to close with this story in Daniel, what ends up happening is that God does save them from dying in the furnace, but He actually doesn't take them out of the furnace. He goes in and is with them and protects them in the fire.
So they're still in the furnace, but they're being protected from the fire that's going to engulf them and take their lives. So He was there with them, and some scholars believe that it was the pre-incarnate Jesus that was present with them in the fire.
And that's such a beautiful picture to think of: Jesus, we know, is part of the Trinity and existed from before time existed on earth to forever. He's always existed in the Trinity with God. And so to think of Him before He was even born in the manger coming to earth to protect these three men is so beautiful.
And what I get out of this, again, the story is not about me, but what I find inspiring is that God's way was to go into the fire and to protect them. Just like through the storms of our life and all of the trials and struggles and suffering that we experience in this broken world, He's there with us, protecting us. And He's given us this gift of salvation.
And you were talking about Heaven, and it just made me think of something, was that I don't desire Heaven solely because I desire to be with Bridget again. Of course, that's an amazing benefit of Heaven. But I desire Heaven because I love Jesus and I want to be in the presence of God for eternity.
And that gift of salvation is for me and my soul, that He has saved me from eternity in Hell and saved me from my own sin. And so that, first and foremost, is that gratitude for salvation, this hope that He's given me. But then the amazing thing for us as grieving moms is that because of that salvation, we have the hope to see our babies again. And then Heaven's going to be so much sweeter and so amazing because we're going to be reunited with them.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:38:07] Yeah. And it's so true that Heaven is going to be just so amazing. And when Christ comes again and we have the New Heavens and the New Earth, so much of our pain and the things we've walked through, they will be of no concern for us now.
And it's so true that when Christ comes again and we have the New Earth and the New Heavens or if we die before then and we are taken up to Heaven with the Lord, that what we will have in eternity is so much better than any earthly good we could ever desire now, and it will make all of the tears and all of the sleepless nights and all of the anxiety and all of the battles with depression and all of these very real struggles that we often have as believers and as grieving mothers, it will make all of those feel so tiny and like it didn't matter.
And I understand that is so hard to wrap our minds around when we're in it, when we are walking through those dark seasons, those sleepless nights, those times where we feel just such oppression and we feel so broken-hearted and we have nothing but tears.
It makes me think there's a Psalm where David says something along the lines of, “I've had nothing but tears for my food,” something to that extent. When we are in those seasons, it can be so difficult for us to wrap our minds around that. But it makes me think of 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, and in it Paul says:
“For this light, momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
And I know it can feel kind of dismissive at first, when we're just looking at “this light momentary affliction.” This affliction feels nothing but light. It does not feel anywhere near light. It does not feel momentary. And it's not to diminish the difficulty of our suffering, but it is to shine a light on just how incredible eternity is and just how incredible our God is, how big He is, how majestic He is, that everything we have here, our sorrows may be as big as the tallest mountain we can envision, that there's no way we could pick that up.
It is so incredibly heavy. But if you set it next to the glory of God and this glory and this inheritance that we have waiting for us in eternity, it will make it look like this light little feathery thing that doesn't even compare.
And so that is where we can place our hope as we wait, knowing that we do have an inheritance waiting for us in Heaven. We do have a place that Christ is saving for us. We do have this greater hope that we can look to, this living hope that 1 Peter 1 talks about, that we have this living hope that is being kept in Heaven for us as an inheritance, and we can cling to that, and knowing that is the true hope that we have.
And even as we pray for earthly gifts, we have access to the Father. God welcomes us to come to Him in prayer. He sympathizes with us. We can come to Him. We can approach God with the desires that we have, and also while knowing that we have a hope that is being kept secure for us and nothing can take that away.
Ashley Opliger: [00:41:22] Amen, sister. I'm glad that you read from 2 Corinthians because I'm also looking at 2 Corinthians 5, which is titled Our Heavenly Dwelling. And this is where it's talking about, “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
And so this is just talking about groaning and longing to put on this heavenly. dwelling. And then further down it says that, “We know that while we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
And so to think of it as right now we're on this earth, we're in the brokenness of sin and death, but one day we won't be. And one day when we're in Heaven, everything's going to be made right and new, and the New Heavens and the earth will be made.
And truly, that is one of my most passionate talking points is about Jesus' Second Coming and what's to come, because that truly is the ultimate state of our hope. That's the eternal state of Heaven.
And we had talked in this episode about identity and our identity in Christ. And so it's also in 2 Corinthians 5:16 that says, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
And so our identity is in Christ and who He has made us to be in this reconciliation with Him and as a new creation in Him.
And further down talks about us being ambassadors for Christ. That is our identity and our role. And we do that in motherhood and in ministry and in friendship and in marriage; those are the roles that God's given us, but ultimately our identity is in Christ.
And I just love that you shared that hope because it is truly the only hope that we have. Everything else is sinking sand. One of my favorite hymns is On Christ the Solid Rock I stand. If anyone gets the chance to just go and Google the lyrics or look it up on YouTube or Spotify, listen to the song. It's just such a truth-filled, hope-filled song, that He is the only true hope that we can stand on and know that we can't be shaken, that we will have this hope forever.
So, Kristin, I'm just so glad that we had this chance to talk and I know we could talk for hours, and we plan to. And we're going to have two more episodes over the summer where we are going to be talking about different topics, but we just really wanted to start with this foundation of hope, and then we're going to go into some very specific topics about grieving and healing. So, Kristin, I would love for you to close us in prayer.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:44:17] All right.
Heavenly Father, thank You so much for my friend, Ashley, and for each of the women and possibly men who are listening in on this podcast, every family represented here together as we're listening and diving into Your Word and encouraging one another with the Truth of Your Word.
Lord, I just pray for peace over every single person listening. God, I pray that You would just minister to our hurting hearts. We thank You that You are near to us in our grief, that You are not a God who is far away and impersonal, but that You draw near to us and that You know our suffering and You love us in it, and that You refine us in it and that You hurt with us.
And I pray that we would just feel Your nearness, that we would cling to Your Word as we think through these things, as we grapple with what our identity is and where our hope is, Lord, that we would just continually turn to Your Word and that You would help us to place our hope fully in You and to rest and have peace, and to be able to exhale knowing that the hope that we have in You is one that cannot be shaken and not be taken from us. And we thank You so much for that gift. We thank you for Jesus, and we thank You for Your love and Your forgiveness and Your redemption, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Ashley Opliger: [00:45:34] Amen. Thank you.
Kristin Hernandez: [00:45:37] Thank you, Ashley.
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.
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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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