My obstetrician, a Christian, told me sometimes God gives us an inkling about what is coming to cushion the blow. I told him I was having a hard time knowing how to hope. I believe God can accomplish miracles, but I also believe we live in a broken world. As tempting as it is to hope that baby Sam will pop out completely healthy in April, this sort of thing requires a type of humility–an acceptance of both our frail humanity and our capacity to experience miracles. We see with our eyes the images on the ultrasound screen and the results of lab testing, and they look like defeat, but then we must move ahead trusting in what we cannot see but only sense: that the plan for Steven, Sam, and my life will be accomplished, all powers of hell be damned. That type of humility turns flimsy hope into the valiant hope needed for spiritual battle.
I had a nightmare the night before the ultrasound, and I know its source was not of God. It was utterly disturbing. I felt abandoned to the circumstances and to my enemy, but I realized recently that my preparation for this time was not in a God-given dream that foretold the upcoming tragedy, but in the preparation of my heart. Look at the blogs that preceded Sam’s diagnosis. My heart was being bolstered for a battle I sensed was approaching. In “Advice Like Rice” I wrote:
Motherhood is a spiritual endeavor, for the Enemy hates life. He perverts sexuality as less than intimacy, pleasure, and procreation when he oversees the deeds of rapists, pimps, and pornographers. He relishes cancer and heart disease, thinking he’s gained the last laugh when we go down to the grave. He laughs at the deaths of millions of little lives each year, swooping in as the accuser of the deceived and bereaved mother as soon as the abortion is finished. It is no wonder mothers walk such a battle ground each day they share their bodies with their growing babies, each day they offer their time and energy in the rearing of a child, each day they consider the well-being of their children over their own. The Enemy hates how we serve in the hidden moments, and hungers for our demise. He loves it when we feel ill-equipped for the task appointed to us. He whispers lies in our ears, coaxing us to concentrate on the magnitude of motherhood, rather than the magnitude of our Father.
He hates motherhood because it glimmers as a facet of the character of Christ–the part of Him that pulled the children into a place of importance and said, “Let the little children come unto me.” Let them come and make a mess. Let them come and make noise. Let them come and knock our ducks out of a row. Let them reveal my gentleness, my goodness, my perfect discipline, my adequacy, my love for life. These little ones, whose prayers the Father bends to hear and whose abusers await the horrifying wrath of God reserved especially for those who would “cause one of these little ones to stumble”–these are who we’ve been entrusted with.
To the weary mothers, be blessed today as you take up your swords and shields in a most important battle.
Little did I know, my own words would return to encourage me. This little person, tiny enough to fit in my hands, doesn’t travel to remote villages to spread the gospel, doesn’t contribute millions to worthy charities, doesn’t preach moving sermons, and may never even take a step or speak a word, but his very existence is a blow to the face of God’s Enemy, simply because he bears His image. I am not defeated if Sam is not healed this side of heaven. I am victorious when every heartbeat allotted to my beautiful baby sounds, whether the last occurs tomorrow or decades from now. His life will be a declaration among declarations that Christ is the firstborn from the dead, that those who identify themselves in Christ will follow, because of the faithfulness of the God “who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were” (Romans 4). May my Enemy be shaken to its core by the picture of love Sam displays in his existence.