If you are a parent, do you remember what you felt the first time you laid eyes on your newborn baby? Joy? Love? Excitement? All I felt was absolute terror.
Pretty messed up, right? Let me give you some context.
When my wife and I were married a couple of years, we decided we were ready to start having kids. Of course, “ready” is a pretty relative term. To our surprise, getting pregnant was not as easy as we thought. After trying all the tricks, we started to fear that maybe it wasn’t meant to be. Finally, after a year, our prayers were answered. We went to my in-laws after church for Easter lunch to announce that a grandbaby was on the way.
I couldn’t wait to become a dad. I ran the scenario through my head a hundred times. I knew exactly what would happen. My wife would wake me up in the middle of the night to tell me it was time. I would grab our pre-packed bags, load them in the car, and then help my wife, who would be twice the woman she was when I married her, to the car and then race down the street to the hospital. After a few hours of holding her hand, encouraging her to push or pull, or apologizing for doing this to her, I would see my baby for the first time and immediately feel love and joy that would change my life forever.
Things did not go according to my plan. Not long into her pregnancy, my wife became very sick. We had no idea what was normal and what wasn’t, so it took us a while to realize something wasn’t quite right. After some intense weeks, the doctor put her on bed rest to try and keep her blood pressure down. I ran home from work one day to check on her, and we also checked her blood pressure. It was super high. We called her doctor, who told us we needed to go to the emergency room immediately. I was not expecting that. We did, and I don’t remember much from that moment on. It was like I was suddenly on the outside looking in.
When we got to the hospital, a bunch of staff was waiting for us. Someone must have let them know what was going on. It seemed like everyone knew what was going on except for me. They quickly did some nurse stuff to her and then wheeled her out of the hospital to a helicopter waiting outside. I got into a car with her parents, and we floored it to the hospital they were flying her to in Salt Lake City. I sat in the back seat and cried my eyes out. I felt so helpless. So unable to protect the woman I married and my child, whom I haven’t even met yet.
To make a long story short, I will skip some details. We spent some time at that hospital, unsure of what would happen. At 28 weeks of pregnancy, they performed an emergency c-section to deliver our baby and save his life. That’s a moment I will never forget. I finally got to lay eyes on my firstborn son.
At this moment, I did not feel the joy and love I thought I would. The only thing I could feel was absolute fear and helplessness. A nurse stood by me as I looked at him for the first time, hoping to feel those feelings of love and joy. Everyone else ran around in controlled chaos while they rushed to clean him up and pump oxygen into his lungs. As I looked down on this little human shape that was smaller than my hand (1 pound 14 ounces), I could only beg God to let him breathe.
I share all of that to say that life is rarely convenient. Life is full of inconvenient, uncomfortable, awkward, and painful moments. These are moments we rarely predict and would never experience if we had the choice. Yet, despite all of that being true, those moments are wonderful. Psalm 66:10–12 (ESV) says, “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.”
My son is turning ten years old this year. He is a healthy, smart, funny kid who loves the Lord. His birth was a huge inconvenience, but it was a wonderful inconvenience. We would never choose to go through the fire — it’s hot, and it burns — but it’s that fire that burns away the impurities.
I don’t know of any convenient pregnancy. They are uncomfortable and painful, yet God brings the gift of new life on the other side of that pain. It’s in our human nature to avoid uncomfortable things, but as a Christian, this is impossible and foolish. To avoid pain would mean we would have to avoid the refiner’s fire resulting in the forfeiture of the gift of eternal life that we are not earning ourselves but that Christ the master craftsmen is working out in us.
Don’t avoid the pain that life brings. Instead, face it. Our Father is looking at us, not in fear and helplessness, but it is all according to the plan for him. Romans 8:28 states “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
Trevor Rickard is an Associate Pastor at New Life Christian Fellowship.