Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Michelle Duggar miscarried in her second trimester what would have been her 20th child. She found out at her ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby. The baby, a girl named Jubilee Shalom, has had a funeral and is being mourned by the Duggar family.
Michelle Duggar is not a stranger to the loss of miscarriage. After the birth of oldest son Joshua, she suffered the first trimester loss of her second child, whom the Duggar’s named Caleb. She credits use of artificial birth control as the cause of the miscarriage. Duggar went on to carry 18 more children to term including two sets of twins and nineteenth child Josie who was born extremely pre-mature and has endured many health struggles in her life thus far.
Michelle is now 45-years-old. The premature birth of Josie (born three months early) and the associated risks with her age made many question the wisdom of her choice to become pregnant again. True to her pro-life and pro-family roots, Michelle embraced this pregnancy as she has all her others. The announcement was made on the Today show in early November. The critics weighed in, questioning Josie’s health and Michelle’s, the likelihood of birth defects and genetic problems etc. Shamefully, the vast majority of Duggar defenders had these sentiments to share: well, as long as they can pay for all those kids…
Not to negate the importance of being able to provide for one’s family but REALLY??? That’s the best we can come up with to defend the Duggars’ (to use a term from the opposing side) reproductive rights?
But here’s the thing, as painful as losing baby Jubilee is for the family, it gives them the chance to share their faith in a new way. Suffering and death test the faith in particularly unique ways. The Duggars live a VERY public life and as a result this is the time the vultures may be circling to see how they “fail” in their faith. Instead, they have chosen to mourn the loss of their daughter and have a funeral for “a clump of cells” that they very much love as their own child. It shows that lives lived in faith, steeped in love, can still be tested by pain and loss. And that it doesn’t mean that one is being punished, or has a lack of faith but perhaps is part of God’s larger plan. Anna Duggar’s miscarriage between daughter Mackynzie and son Michael was very swept under the rug, whether this was by design or not, there was an opportunity that the family missed to address the spiritual and emotional side of pregnancy loss and trust in God’s will.
The first loss of a pregnancy the Duggar’s experienced they blamed on their sinful nature (using birth control). Since then the Duggar’s have become parents to many children and grandparents…what have they learned between then and now about the tragedy of pregnancy loss? While using birth control may very well have figured into the loss of baby Caleb, it doesn’t exclusively have to be the reason for the loss and certainly had nothing to do with this most recent loss. This loss illustrates that sometimes, even when we live faithful, God-filled lives, things will happen not according our plans but God’s. That a bad thing happening (“bad” according to our fallen-human understanding of the word) does not equate with our amount of faith, the state of our soul or any other human determination.