Give Us a Break!

My sister-in law found out last week that the baby girl she is carrying has a significant heart problem. For the next several months, she will constantly face the excruciating question: will the life that she is nourishing within flourish and grow or will it wither and die?

My friend just lost her baby. This isn’t the first time she has gone through this, but it will be the last. Along with her baby, she just lost her uterus, too.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
Psalm 90:1-2

How do I pray about all this? My heart is crushed with grief for these precious women. They have endured so much loss, so much disappointment, and now my friend’s hopes of bearing a child are dashed forever. How can I call her to hope in God when I myself feel that He has been too severe with her? And yet where else can I turn but to the One who gave birth to the world and everything in it, who holds her children, her body, and her future in His hands?

You turn men back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.” For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning– though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered.
Psalm 90:3-6

At times like this He seems so harsh, so distant and uncaring. We feel like helpless peons, tossed about in a cruel world where blossoming infants are suddenly blighted and our ability to bear fruit is abruptly cut off. Did He not call us to be fruitful and multiply? Does He not raise our expectations with talk about blessing His people with children: making them fruitful vines, filling the barren woman’s arms, and all that? And yet another infant has perished under His watchful gaze; another godly woman lies bereft of her fruit-bearing capacity.

We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. … their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. …
Psalm 90:7-11

Is God angry with us? Is this suffering simply the product of a sinful, cursed world in which life is cut short and the days we do have are filled with sorrow and hardship? If that is all we have to look forward to, then our lives are reduced to a desperate act of survival. If God truly is that aloof and indifferent, then we have no hope at all.

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

But life can’t really be that bleak. God can’t really be that unloving. There has to be more to the story than I can see at this moment. So, as Moses did before me, I turn to God and ask Him to show me the big picture. What are our lives really about? What cause do we have to keep hoping, to keep persevering through the pain and pressing on towards the future?

Relent, O LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.
Psalm 90:13-16

Give us a break, Lord! We can’t go on like this much longer. Show us some mercy. Apart from you, we will wither and die. We can’t bear another day imprisoned under these steel skies. Break through the dark clouds that swirl around us and let us see your beauty, your goodness, your love. We are your weak, grieving people. Come and comfort us. Reassure us with your smile. Touch us with your tender hand. Give us a reason to be happy again. Show us those wonderful ways that you intervene on behalf of your servants. Give us a sign of your goodness. We want to believe, help us in our unbelief.

“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days… my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them.
Isaiah 65:17, 19-20, 22-23

Once again, my soul settles on the reality which Moses died believing but never seeing. Two thousand years later, a baby survived some rough birthing circumstances only to later have the breath of life crushed from His lungs. His resurrection is God’s response to the prayers of anguished sufferers past and present. It broke the curse under which we writhe. It relocates our hope to the new creation, where the curse will be finally and fully undone. Our fruitfulness will be restored. Our babies will live. Our God will be with us. Our joy will be full.

Seven years ago today, I watched as a team of blood-spattered doctors raced the clock to rescue the tiny infant from my own failing body. Hours later, I awoke from the anesthesia, wondering if she had joined the four others who had gone before her. My womb was gone, and with it my fruitfulness as a woman. But in God’s incredible kindness, He spared me my Anastasia, my little “resurrection.” Today, I hold her sturdy, growing body and bury my face in her soft, warm skin. She is my living, breathing reminder of the power of His resurrection, a tangible sign of His goodness in the here and now.

Lord, fill the empty arms of those who mourn. Create anew the bodies of those who are at-risk. Restore the fruitfulness of our bodies, our work, our lives.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us– yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90:17

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7 thoughts on “Give Us a Break!”

  1. This is a tough one! A most firey trial, but take courage and have faith in God. There is nothing impossible for God to those that believe. I have seen , and received, “impossible” miracles of healing take place when we “speak to the mountain” believing for the impossible. I join you in faith and prayer, not doubting, but believing. My own grandaughter was healed in the womb, and delivered PERFECT in every way. The Obstetrician had adviced an abortion when it was determined by ultrasound the baby was deformed due to fetal alcohol syndrome, (the mother was a serious alcoholic). I praise God, who is well able to heal this baby. It is NOT His Will for this baby to die. Speak and believe in Faith, beloved.

    1. Thank you for your encouragement and your prayers, Scarlett. Like you, I have witnessed His mighty, gracious acts of healing. I have also gone through the times when He chose not to. It is so hard to pray, not knowing how He will act in a particular situation. But His freedom of choice does not hinder the zeal of my prayers or diminish my faith in what He can do. I am fighting for this little one, believing that He can heal perfectly, and trusting that He will act out of His love, wisdom, and goodness. But I have learned the hard way not to fill in the blank of what that should look like. I will plead for a specific outcome, but I cannot command it.

  2. Happy Birthday to Ana…I remember the day well! We too are so grateful for His favor upon you and for the promise of the resurrection where there will be no more death or pain and suffering.

  3. the reality which Moses died believing but never seeing.

    This has always haunted me, in the light of Hebrews 11:39-12:1. The Apostle’s creed also includes that bit about “the communion of the saints”. I wonder if that relates to all this. If it does, I haven’t much of a clue as to how! Perhaps some Catholics or Orthodox brothers or sisters (although ‘brothers’ captures that only Roman sons got the inheritance, hence some justifiable cultural verbal sexism) could shed some light on this.

    1. I wrote it with Hebrews 11 in mind. I, too, wonder exactly what the Old Testament saints believed in. Certainly they trusted in Yahweh (or in some cases El) as the only true God, beyond that, what was the content of their faith? And yet Hebrews 11 strongly implies that they had an idea of Christ’s future coming. Perhaps we underestimate their knowledge of the prophecies concerning the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, and the King who would descend from David. Perhaps they were much more familiar with the meta-narrative of Scripture than we give them credit for, even if they couldn’t fill in all the blanks of what that would end up specifically looking like. And yet the content of their faith was clearly adequate to count them into the family of God, what we no know as the church. So that also leaves me with the question, what is “enough” knowledge on which to base saving faith? I wonder if we have gotten more specific on that the Bible is.

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