A year ago I was holding my newborn son to my chest and studying his features. After feeling as if I would end up pregnant forever, there he was cradled in the nook of my arm with his cheek resting against my skin. It felt like a dream as I conjured up in my mind the memory of holding my newborn daughter for the very first time. The miracle of my two children has been one of the motivating factors in my life. Aside from my faith in God, my two little loves keep me pushing and striving for better; better character, better faith, better attitudes, and better ways.
Becoming a mother has been refining and redefining. The moment I saw my daughter on the ultrasound that very first time, the entire landscape of my journey began to change shape and it has continued to change shape as our family has grown.
Somehow, God stitched a message for me to see in this strange calico quilt that has been my life. I am reminded of His message each and every time I look into the eyes of my children.
I wonder how Mary felt when she held a newborn Jesus to her chest for the first time and felt His cheek against her skin. I wonder what she must have thought as she studied His features and pondered the absolute miracle of His arrival. Did she know what would happen to that precious infant in the years to come? When she kissed His nose and cheeks, did she have any clue at all what her Son was going to face as an innocent man? More than that, did she know God was going to sacrifice Him, that innocent baby boy, for people who would despise Him, reject Him, persecute Him, and betray Him?
When I look at my children, I cannot fathom the concept of sacrificing them for anyone or anything. It is difficult to understand the grief some parents have to endure at the loss of a child. I cannot even imagine the anguish of Mary’s heart when she saw the sight of Jesus on the Cross. I wonder if she was even able to understand the promise of new life in the midst of that kind of grief.
After we brought our son home from the hospital I began to fall into a deeper state of postpartum depression than I ever experienced with my daughter. The past rolled in and collided with the present, creating an incredibly frightening storm. The days began to seem so long and daunting as the clock would stretch out across the room and tick-tock at me so slowly. I felt as if I were stuck white-knuckling the day by the second. At night, I would experience a panic over the day ahead and wonder how I was even going to get through another day with the clock stretching out time that seemed impossible to pass. In the postpartum support group, several of us shared the strange sensation that our mind would be ‘stuck’ that way forever.
One day I heard my daughter tell her plastic fish that her mama was sad. The sound of her voice startled something deep within and I decided I could not sacrifice my children at the altar of my wounds. God had already sacrificed His own Son on my behalf and it was finished on that Cross. My diminishing hope needed to placed in Him and Him alone.
I was blessed with Psalm 107:29-31:
He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
When we are struggling and the landscape is dark and shadowed, we often have difficulty understanding or grasping what is in store beyond the raging waters. Our faith gets shaken, doubts brew up a storm, and hope may even start to whither as the storm surrounds us. And, just like in a real thunderstorm, we lose perception of the sun shining unseen behind the dark clouds.
Today we celebrate our son’s first birthday and I am in awe of the miracles of God. It seems strange to look back at this year and see those darker days behind us. It is difficult to believe today that there was a time my mind believed I would be ‘stuck’ in the storm forever. But, the Son was there, unseen behind the clouds, and quieting the waves with His voice.
No matter what trials we are facing or how dark the skies look, we have faith and assurance in Hebrews 11:1:
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
As we enter into a season of remembering Christ’s sacrifice through His death, let us not forget there was a resurrection and celebration that soon followed. In the middle of their excruciating grief, Mary and the disciples were met with a risen Son.
They witnessed the greatest miracle ever known; new life. In the birth of a Son and the Resurrection of a King, God blessed us with the miracle of new life. Somewhere in there is the promise of Psalm 30:5:
…weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
No matter what shape we are in, where we are at, who we are, or how scary the storm is we will always, always have hope in the Resurrection.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.