How should a Christian grieve a miscarriage? This article unpacks the comfort that Christian parents have in a time of miscarriage. Their comfort will come by remembering that children are conceived in sin, the sovereignty of God, and salvation is by grace.

Source: The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, 2017. 3 pages.

Learning to Grieve a Miscarriage

In trying to emphasize the unbreakable love and faithfulness God has to His people, the prophet Isaiah contrasts it to the strongest human affection he can find: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee” (Isa. 49:15). The contrast is so powerful precisely because of the strength of the mother-child bond. Therefore, what could be more unnatural and painful than that this bond should be intruded upon by death? Words fail to adequately express the aching loss a mother and a father experience in the death of “the son of her womb.” These are difficult questions: How do we learn to grieve a miscarriage? What comfort is there for those who have experienced the pain of miscarriage?

The answer to these questions is found in the Word of God. The loss of miscarriage throws up many hard questions in the minds of grieving parents. Why did this happen? Why now? It seems that most of the time the Lord answers these questions in a way similar to the way Jesus once replied to Peter : “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter” (John 13:7). Yet the Lord repeatedly reminds His people in Scripture: “My dear child, what I am doing is good, it is for the best, and even when you do not understand why, understand that behind every­thing I do is infinite wisdom coupled with covenant love.” This is how believing parents are able to say, even from the depth and confusion of miscarriage grief, “In the multitude of my thoughts (anxieties) within me thy comforts delight my soul” (Ps. 94:19).

There is perhaps one question above all others to which the aching heart of the mother and father crave an answer: Is my child in heaven? The Bible says, “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17); “Hear and your soul shall live” (Isa. 55:3). The parent might reason: “But my child never heard the gospel. He or she never had the capacity to hear the word and exercise faith. Is it not just wishful thinking therefore to say my child is in heaven?” What comforts does the Word of God give to parents concerning the salvation of their child?

A first comfort to remember is that our children are conceived in sin. At first glance, this seems entirely paradoxical. How is this any comfort? Well, every comfort in the Word of God is based in truth. It is no comfort to say, “Your child is in heaven because they are innocent; they never committed any sin.” This is not true and so is no real comfort. Remember David; he was a child of the covenant, born in the tribe of Judah, born in the very line from which Christ would come, the man after God’s own heart, the sweet psalmist of Israel, and yet he confesses in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Before we receive any gospel comfort, we must acknowledge this hard, hard truth: even our unborn children deserve everlasting death.

A second comfort is to remember the sovereignty of God. Because you believe your child is guilty of sin and deserves to die, and yet will never actually hear and respond to the gospel, you might well ask, How then can they be saved? But remember that, because God is sovereign, He works “when, and where, and how He pleases” (WCF 10:3). The great proof text for this is John 3:8: “The wind bloweth where it (wishes), and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” This truth reminds us that while God’s ordinary way of saving sinners is through using the means of grace, yet He is able to save sinners without these means as well. In the case of elect infants therefore, God works regeneration “by the immediate agency of the Holy Spirit on their souls.”[1] 1

A third comfort is to remember that salvation is by grace. Salva­tion does not depend on our effort or performance. No one is even saved because God realized they would believe. It is just as impossible for a sinner to believe God by his own strength and effort in his 40s or 50s as it is for a baby in the womb. But here is the great gospel truth that applies equally to elect infants as to the whole election of grace: (God) hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1:9). The principle of salvation by grace alone is one of the most wonderful and undervalued doctrines in the whole Bible, and it is of immense comfort to grieving parents. God does not save us because of our good works; He saves us by the free gift of grace alone in Christ alone.

A fourth comfort to remember is that God is the covenant God. God’s covenant arrangement provides for the children of believers. His covenant promise is that “I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” (Gen. 17:7). Of course, children of believing parents must be born again (John 3:3, 7). But we have already seen that God is able to work regen­eration in the womb. When you take this truth alongside God’s covenantal commitment to be a God to believers and to their children after them, we find the strongest encour­agement to believe that when the ordinary means of grace are denied to these children, God will work in an extraordinary and immediate way to save these children.

A fifth comfort is to remember the conception of Jesus Christ. The early church father Irenaeus said that Jesus Christ passed through every stage that He might sanctify sinners of every stage. Jesus needed no regeneration, but He is still the one who comes to sing to His heavenly Father, “I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly” (Ps. 22:10). No matter the age or the stage of life we are considering, it can still be said of Jesus, “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17). We can say even of our precious children who die in the womb, “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Rev. 14:4b-5).

When we combine all these comforting biblical truths, we conclude that the children of believers are not without God. In the case of children of believers, it must be true that before death intrudes into this child’s tender life, our faithful covenant God first interposes the precious blood of Jesus Christ, which washes the child’s sins away as far as the east is distant from the west (Ps. 103:12) and clothes him or her with the perfect righteousness of the Holy Child Jesus. Then, in a wave of sanctifying grace that makes the child perfect in holiness, his or her soul immediately passes into glory, and the little body, still united to Christ, rests in the grave until the resurrection (WSC 37).

Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.Revelation 7:15-17

In conclusion, all the doctrines of covenant love and grace combine to give the strongest encouragement for believing parents to believe that their children who die in infancy are saved by grace in Christ. This is a most marvel­ous exhibition of the redeeming covenant love and grace in Christ that saves sinners before they are conscious of existence. Believing parents who have lost precious children in the womb or in infancy can take great comfort and strong consolation. Indeed, as Vance Havner said, “When you know where something is, you haven’t lost it.”2“In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul” (Ps. 94:19)


  1. ^ John Dick, Lectures on Theology (Philadelphia: Greenough, 1840), 3:265.
  2. ^ Quoted in Warren Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testa­ment (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1993); 2 Sam. 12. 

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