This week has been filled with bits of news that have simply broken my mommy-heart.
The young son of friends in Florida was in a freak household accident that resulted in gravely life-threatening skull fratures. For many hours he was hanging by a thread between life and death, there has been a roller coaster ride of improvements and setbacks, and though we are trusting for it, there is a long way to go for full recovery.
I heard the heartbreaking news that the toddler of a friend in North Carolina has gone to be held in the arms Jesus, forever safe now in the hands that formed him. He was born very ill and the fact that he lived until almost 3 years is amazing in itself. Although I would never wish him away from the perfect life he now has, my heart aches and aches for my friends who are experiencing this loss.
Another friend is going through the valley of watching her child suffer extreme physical pain and knowing that there is really nothing she can do to ease it. So many decsions to be made as the next two years of a long, slow, and painful recovery looms ahead. Oh how she longs to remove that pain and place it on herself!
Last night I got word that friends in Illinois who were joyfully anticipating the birth of their 4th child have gone from excitement to terror. She is only 24 weeks along and for some reason, the baby is trying to come now. Dialation, contractions, and water breaking; and now the moment by moment wait to see if all the powers of medicine can deny the body's urge to give birth has given way to the moment by moment wait to see what this tiny body can withstand here on the outside.
Dear Lord, what is going on? All of these families love you and serve you. Why do these things happen to your people? And what seems most unfair is that they are all children!
The thing I have learned since becoming a mother is that the one sure way to pierce the heart of a parent to to have harm done to their child. Seeing your child hurt takes the reaction beyond mere sympathy or an emotional response and turns it quite literally into a gut-wrenching, physical pain.
I can truly say that my understanding of love deepened a hundred-fold when I had children.
I am not saying that the love for parents, for siblings, or even for spouse is somehow less, but it is certainly different.
As a mother I can truly say that I would lay down my life for one of my children!
And yet, that is exactly what God did for us. How deep the Father's love for us! God calls himself our father over and over in the scripture, for he truly is our leader and protector. He also likens his love for us to that of a mother, nurturing, kind, and life-giving.
In Isaiah 49 God is telling the prophet how he will raise his people up. How he will feed them and guide then and how he has compassion on his afflicted ones. The prophet replies and says that "The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me."
To which God utters some of the most beautiful promises in scripture, Isaiah 49:15-16,"
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are ever before me.
Oh what comfort I find here! As much as we humanly love our children and ache for them, the Lord's covering of love over us is even more, deeper, stronger, everlasting, eternal, and oh, how much more potent! For though we parents long to take our childrens hurts onto us, though we would be willing to do anything to remove their pain, we are, in our human state, helpless to do very much at all. Would it be wrong to say that the depth of our pain during these times can serve as a reminder of how much God cares as well?
God is not bound by our frailties, we serve an amazing God, the one who spoke our entire universe into being is the same one who wept at the loss of his friend (John 11:35).
The rest of Isaiah 49 talks about how the Lord will cause Kings and Queens to be foster parents and nurse-maids to our children when our own resources aren't enough.
God will indeed prove himself and show us
"Then you will know that I am the LORD;
those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:23b