Perhaps this time of life-altering sorrow is one in which you are starting to think more theologically than you have in the past—or maybe you are revisiting and testing your already-held theological assumptions. Though your pain may have propelled this new urgency for examining your beliefs, I want to suggest that you not begin your theological paths of reasoning and study with the thoughts and questions surrounding your sorrow.

Today, I hope to provide an opportunity for the contributors to the book to speak from their hearts about this project and their ministries of words. I asked each contributor to send a paragraph about her mission in writing for grieving mothers, what chapter she contributed to Made for a Different Land, and what she hopes women will gain from her writing.

With Hebrews 11:16 coming to mind, I uttered the following words in the hospital room after the stillbirth of my first child: “She was made for a different land.” Soon, we announced online the death of our child instead of her birth, and the same words were written across the title of our blog post. As the years have gone by, this is the phrase I have written on balloons released in memory of my daughter. And most recently, “Made for a Different Land” is the title of a forthcoming collaborative book from Hope Mommies, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization sharing the hope of Christ with women who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss.

When human comforts failed to reach my grieving soul, I triumphed still. 

When in my quiet home I felt the passing of each hour—no, minute—I triumphed still. 

When death, so near, blanketed my sight, I triumphed still. 

When that enemy drained my firstborn’s life, I triumphed still.

Anne Steele knew grief well: “She lost her mother at age 3, a potential suitor at age 20, her stepmother at 43, and her sister-in-law at 45. She spent many years caring for her father until his death in 1769. For many years, she exhibited symptoms of malaria, including persistent pain, fever, headaches, and stomach aches,” according to Chris Fenner, writing for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s The Towers.¹ She peacefully found her refuge in the Lord when her own final moments came, expressing trust in Jesus, the Redeemer who lives.² 

One commentator writes on this passage, love hopes “what is good of another.”¹ Church father Augustine of Hippo also understood 1 Corinthians 13:7 in terms of “‘believing the best’ about all people.”² When others have sought to comfort me about the loss of my daughter, whatever they have said, I have learned to hope all things about their intentions. 

Here is this article’s introduction: “Have you ever felt guilty for experiencing grief? It might seem like a strange question — why would you feel guilty for grieving? But sometimes Christians do feel guilty, precisely because we believe in Jesus. Belief in Jesus, so it is thought, should remove any reason for grief. Jesus loves me. Jesus died for me. Jesus is in control. Jesus raises the dead. With such beliefs, how could any real Christian give in to grief? Believers commonly subscribe to this equation. But this equation is completely wrong — as seen in the life of Jesus himself.”

Purgatory is the belief widely held by the Catholic church (but characteristically rejected by Protestants) that a Christian will first go to purgatory “after death [to] undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”[1] The Catholic church also encourages undertaking ways of helping those who have passed away: “The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead.”[1] The word “purgatory” simply means to have the quality of cleansing or purging—and it is never used in the Bible.[2]

I hope that you know the comfort of Christ’s gospel in your pain—that the good news of His sacrifice on the cross for sins means you can believe and have the assurance of heavenly glory that far surpasses this earth. How good and wonderful it is to reflect upon all Christ has done for His people—winning an eternal victory over sin and death, winning us as believers to Himself so that we become family with Him! I am grateful for this, and more, that the Lord has done.

The book of Psalms bears a title that means, “praise.” Yet, Psalm 88 does not follow the typical pattern of concluding with or moving toward praise. This rare psalm is in a context, within the psalter, of many words of thanks and praise to God, seemingly indicating that refraining from a conclusion of praise is not a posture to maintain, no matter the circumstance (see also 1 Thess. 5:18). But in the Scriptures, we do have these words as a part of the song book of the Israelites. They would sing these words to the Lord from beginning to end, and they would conclude the song without turning to thanksgiving at that moment.

Someone leaves this earth more quickly than expected. Tributes come. Hope is proclaimed. There will be a tomorrow. We will all gather together again who love God, closer than ever. Reading a status like this, I sat up in my bed one night at sunset to weep at the thought of it all coming near—while having a heart expectant and longing, yet, content.

But I don’t bother to wipe away my tears; it’s not the day for that yet.

A couple of years ago on October 15—National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day—I released a balloon in memory of my first daughter, Noelle, saying in my heart again, We are grateful to have known you, we are so glad for you to be experiencing heaven with Christ, we dearly miss you, and we will see you soon.