Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother's Day and the Faithfulness of God

The short, feisty woman balled up her hand into a fist, cocked it back and hit my wife as hard as she could right in the stomach.

I couldn’t believe what just happened. Did that just happen? What should I do? What would Bruce Lee have done in this situation?

I didn’t do anything. My wife was still lying there in pain, the short, feisty woman with Joe Frazier’s left hook was still standing there with a look of determination on her face and I was left questioning my manhood.

But it turns out that my decision to do nothing was the right one. The short, feisty woman was a nurse in the maternity ward. My wife was very much pregnant and at that level of pushing and breathing where she was about to no longer be pregnant. At some point just before our firstborn son’s entry into this world, there were complications. When that nurse punched my wife in the stomach, it helped to push our son out quicker and probably saved his life.

The whole thing seemed more like a movie or a dream than real life. In the span of just a few seconds, I saw my wife get punched and deliver a baby. Nobody in the UFC can do that. The whole thing was really weird. The silence in the room after my son was born went beyond weird.

I remember standing at the end of my wife’s bed when I heard someone say that the baby wasn’t breathing. That’s when it registered for me that there was no crying like you see on TV when the doctor whacks the baby on the butt. After a minute, I sunk back, up against a wall and seemed to hover as a few people took care of my wife. As another minute passed I looked over to my son but couldn’t see him. During the delivery our room only had a few nurses in it. Now it seemed like a convention for every nurse in the hospital and they were all gathered around my son.

I realized that I was out of position. I needed to be with my wife. I went to comfort her but, as is usually the case in matters like these, the tables were turned. She had a concerned look on her face. There’s no telling what mine looked like. I’ll never forget what she told me. Out loud. Everyone could hear it.

“If God wants to take our baby, it’s okay. He belongs to God anyway.”

Now I believe in God’s sovereignty. I know that he is the God of the nice sunny day as well as the tornado. I could not agree more with Job’s response at the death of his kids, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Not only do I believe in God’s good and just rule over all things, I teach and preach about it. The life of Joseph, the story of Ruth and Naomi and countless others are all marked up in my Bible, ready to be preached in an instant. But this time, I got the sermon preached to me.

This was not a seminary student trying to impress one of his buddies or professors at the coffee shop. This wasn’t a well-meaning pastor with bad timing. This was my wife. The one who was told much earlier in life that childbirth probably wasn’t an option for her. The one who carried her son for nine months. The one who endured the back pain, morning sickness and a fever that once topped out at 103 degrees. She’s the one who recognized God’s sovereignty and proclaimed it for all the room to hear. Not, “Why me, God!” but “He’s yours anyway, God!” All while her son was on the other end of the room, breathless, with a dozen nurses standing around him.

Finally, after four minutes, God allowed our son to breathe. It came out as a cry. I don’t think parents have ever been so happy to hear their baby cry. The head nurse loaded up the cart and got ready to wheel our crying baby down the hall but the cart wouldn’t cooperate so she picked him up, held on tight and sprinted out of the room and down the hall. Her speed let me know that the boy wasn’t out of the woods yet.

By God’s grace, he did make it out of the woods. And so this is the part where I’m supposed to say that God is faithful. He is. But what if the four minutes without breathing turned into six and left our son severely disabled? What if there never was a first breath? Would God still be faithful?


Just as God’s sovereign power isn’t limited to the things we consider good, his faithfulness isn’t limited to the good times when the money is flowing and the babies are bouncing. Both God’s sovereignty and his faithfulness expand beyond human circumstances. Sure, we can look to the events of our lives to see reminders of God’s faithfulness but we must look to the character of God as revealed through Scripture to see the depth of it.

Early one August morning, Mothers Day became more to me than reminding my mom how much she meant to me. It became a demonstration of God’s sovereign faithfulness. My son’s name, Isaac, is a rich reminder of that faithfulness. It carries with it a story of a Father who called a special people to himself. It tells of a Father who remains faithful when his people are faithless. It tells the story of another Son, a better Son, who lived a perfect life, was murdered and came back from death three days later. It tells of a promise of “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).

My wife showed me, in the heat of battle, that God is sovereignly faithful. Thank you, Marsha. Happy Mother’s Day.

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