This means that we are well within the month long waiting period where we have to be in the mindset that the baby could arrive any day.
Usually about this time I come to terms with the impending trial of labor and have a sense of peace. And when labor actually starts I have been able to greet it with joy and excitement. Before reaching this stage, however, I am usually filled with a little bit of fear and dread and read all of my childbirth notes and books until my brain is completely saturated. This time around it seems as if I have been taking longer to cross into that final stage of contented anticipation.
I was just mentioning this to Clay on the way to church this past Sunday. And, as usual, God already knew what I needed. It seemed like the whole service liturgy was filled with little reminders and bits of encouragement.
The very first hymn felt like a wake up call for the perspective that I have been lacking:
"My soul, now bless thy Maker!
Let all within me bless His name
Who maketh thee partaker
Of mercies more than thou dar'st claim...
...Who healeth all thy weakness,
Renews thy life within;
Whose grace and care are endless
And saved thee through the past;
Who leaves no sufferer friendless...
...He knows how frail our powers
Who but from dust are made...
...God's grace alone endureth,
And children's children yet shall prove
How He with strength assureth
The hearts of all that seek His love..."
The responsive reading: "In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul." (from Psalm 138:3)
And then we got to the sermon... starting with the sermon text:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:1-4)
Pastor Sauder's sermon was great on many different levels but I was especially appreciating it for the applications I needed in preparation for this little trial I am preparing for. Here are just a couple of the points I needed to hear:
- "Trials come because we live in a fallen and sinful world...trials come because of the curse upon the human race and upon the earth. But trials also are from the Lord, who is sovereign over all things"
Eve's punishment for sinning in the garden of Eden was pain in childbirth. Bringing a new life into the world is not all happiness and daisies and warm gushy feelings. It is pain and hard work. But it does produce new life. Death and resurrection in a very visceral way. It is one of the greatest honors a woman can have.
- "Even in the trials, you can have joy...not getting through this trial so I can have joy again; but in the midst of it have joy. Have joy because of what God is doing."
God is using this trial, not only to bring a new miraculous life into the world, but to change me and allow me to be more complete; closer to the final, sanctified work He is creating me to be.
My thoughts the past few weeks have been filled with doubt and worries. On one hand I have been through pregnancy and delivery three times already and it all feels very familiar. But every delivery is unique and the unknown is always a little scary. I have been trying to prepare myself with more knowledge and some sort of conviction that everything will be fine. But in the end knowledge (though great) is not enough and, after all, labor is not about being in fullcontrol but more about being able to surrender yourself (in a prepared way) to whatever happens.
I think I have reached the turning point in being (at least mentally) prepared. What I was lacking was the remembrance that God is in control. He is sovereign. He is here preparing us for the arrival of our child, He will be there when I need strength and support in the trial, and He will be there when we forget all of the pain and worry and welcome the new life He has blessed us with.
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)
"A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world." (John 16:21)
And in the end, I get another one of these: