“It must be nice to be God’s favorite.”
That was my first thought when, just weeks after I had a miscarriage, one of my closest friends got pregnant again. Seemingly effortlessly. Because I had lost my baby, I thought, in my bitterness, that He must just love me less or at least see me as a less capable mother than my friend.
My friend’s announcement was the first of many that reminded me of the painful loss of my miscarried baby. Siblings, mission companions, friends I’d met years ago — they all seemed to be announcing their perfectly healthy pregnancies while I could do nothing but mourn the one I had lost.
I held on to hope. I subconsciously thought that, having experienced a miscarriage, I’d paid my dues. I had suffered! And I’d learned from my experience, just like I was supposed to! So surely God would bless me with a healthy baby soon. But it didn’t happen that way.
In the painful, isolating months that followed my miscarriage, I was again confronted with the thought I had when my friend announced her pregnancy to me: “I guess God just loves me less.” And even though this thought completely contradicted everything I know about God as my loving Heavenly Father, I started to believe it.
But my perspective changed one day when I read 1 Nephi 1:1, the very first verse of the first chapter in the Book of Mormon: “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days” (emphasis added).
I cried at how directly this scripture answered the pleadings of my heart. Had I really thought that God loved or favored me less because of my afflictions? Nephi didn’t seem to think that was the case. And neither did Paul the Apostle, who reminded us in the book of Hebrews that “whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth” (Hebrews 12:6). Neither did Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who expounded on why a God who loves us so deeply could possibly present us with trials that seem so unbearable:
“It simply will not work ‘to glide naively through life,’ saying as we sip another glass of lemonade, ‘Lord, give me all thy choicest virtues, but be certain not to give me grief, nor sorrow, nor pain, nor opposition. Please do not let anyone dislike me or betray me, and above all, do not ever let me feel forsaken by Thee or those I love. In fact, Lord, be careful to keep me from all the experiences that made Thee divine. And then, when the rough sledding by everyone else is over, please let me come and dwell with Thee, where I can boast about how similar our strengths and our characters are as I float along on my cloud of comfortable Christianity.”1
The fact of the matter is that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ do not show Their love by protecting us from all pain and opposition. They show us Their love by helping us endure these experiences so that one day we can be more like Them, a process that is both necessary to our eternal joy and impossible to achieve without enduring the refiner’s fire.
I should be clear that I don’t think God caused my miscarriage. Loss, illness, and death are simply natural consequences of living in a fallen world. And while I don’t think Heavenly Father keeps us from experiencing the pains of mortality, I do know He gave us a Savior, who is an expert at “consecrat[ing] [our] afflictions for [our] gain” (2 Nephi 2:2) and giving “beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:3).
Even though I never want to go through that pain again, I’d much rather be the person I am now than the person I was before I had a miscarriage or dealt with other challenges. Through them, I now feel empathy in a way I never thought I could. I’m more sensitive in the things I say and do. I see that others who have seemingly perfect lives have different struggles they face each day too. I know better how to fulfill the covenant I’ve made with God to “mourn with those who mourn; … and comfort those who stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:9). Jesus Christ has truly given me beauty for ashes and can do the same for all of us who struggle with afflictions.
I wish that the refiner’s fire were easier to get through, but then I wouldn’t be refined as I am now. I now understand that, despite the difficulty of the trial, my miscarriage and all my afflictions are not a sign that God loves me any less. The opposite is true. It’s through this trial, and a million others like it, that the grace of Christ can mold me into the person God knows I can become—a person who will be worthy of leaving this life and spending the rest of eternity with those I love most.
Jenna Alton is a stay-at-home mother and freelance writer who lives with her family in Utah, USA. She has her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Brigham Young University and served a full-time mission in Madrid, Spain. She has a strong testimony of Heavenly Father’s love for each of His children and knows He is in the details of our lives.
You can find more articles about choosing happiness in the Young Adults section of the February 2023 Liahona.
Check out YA Weekly, located in the Gospel Library under Magazines or Adults > Young Adults, for new, inspiring content for young adults each week.
You can send your own article, ideas, or feedback to YAWeekly@ChurchofJesusChrist.org. We can’t wait to hear from you!
1. Jeffrey R. Holland, “Waiting on the Lord,” Liahona, Nov. 2020, 116; see also Neal A. Maxwell, “Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds,” Ensign, May 1991, 88.