Great is thy faithfulness

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Just before Christmas we welcomed our second child into our family, Son #2. Babies certainly make you reassess your priorities – hence my silence on this blog for the first half of the year!

His name means ‘supplanter’, which we were initially unsure about given its origins with Jacob and Esau. However as we considered it more we started to view the name meaning through a different lens: our previous struggles with infertility.

We started trying for a baby in late 2009. At the time we were filled with excitement about the prospect of a child just around the corner, but as the months and then years went by and no baby came we grew increasingly disappointed and hurt, especially Kim. I’ve touched on our journey with infertility before (Sacred and holy moments) – eventually I received a belated birthday present in early 2013 – Kim was pregnant – and Son #1 arrived later that year.

At that point we thought the pain of infertility would start to fade, but that was not the case. As we continued to feel the pain, even with the presence of Son #1, we realised just how deep the emotional wounds of infertility go. We’d always been keen to have a large family however our struggles with infertility made us begin to doubt whether this would actually be possible.

So when we decided to start trying for our second child, we were understandably preparing ourselves for another long journey. How surprised we were then when this time, instead of taking three years, it only took a few months for us to conceive.

So Son #2 is, for us, the supplanter – not in the sense that he has supplanted his brother, but that he has supplanted our broken dreams of a large family and given us hope that this may be possible in the future.

 

As I lay in bed the night Son #2 was born I had the old hymn Great is thy faithfulness running through my head. Written in 1923 by Thomas Chisholm and based on Lamentations 3:23, I sang out my praise using these fantastic lyrics.

Great is Thy faithfulness!

Great is Thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Thank you Father. Amen.

Sacred and holy moments

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The upcoming birth of our second child (due in less than two weeks!) and the fact that Christmas is just around the corner remind me of a chapter from Sarah Bessey’s book Jesus Feminist, where the following quote comes from:

I can assure you: there isn’t anything very dignified about giving birth.

And yet, that was the moment when I felt my carefully constructed line between the sacred and the secular shatter once and for all. The sacred and holy moments of a life are often our most raw, our most human moments, aren’t they?

The bolded section resonates with me when I look back on my life so far. Two of the moments which, both at the time and on further reflection, have been the most sacred and holy were also my most raw…

The first moment was when I was made redundant from my job in 2010. I’d been working for the company for the first three years Kim and I had been in Dunedin and, while there had been a lull in work – not great if you’re a consultant – being called into the manager’s office and told that I was going to lose my job absolutely blindsided me. I remember feeling completely numb returning to my desk after the conversation. I nervously headed home at the end of the day and it wasn’t long before I shared with Kim what had happened, tears streaming down my face. The following day I spent at home and found myself scrubbing the kitchen floor and crying out to God – asking “why?” In this moment I felt so close to God, it was incredible.

The second moment was while Kim and I were in the midst of infertility, holding on to the hope of a child after three years of trying to conceive. In October 2012 we attended our church’s annual camp at Pounawea in the Catlins. After one of the sermons there was an opportunity for those who wanted prayer to be prayed for by others. We asked for prayer and were surrounded by a small group of familiar faces. As I tried to explain what we wanted prayer for I found myself choked up with tears, unable to get any words out. Up until that point our infertility journey had emotionally impacted Kim much more than me, but in that moment, opening up to others about our pain, I struggled for words. We were covered with prayer on that day and I recall a great sense of peace about the situation following this. One year later our wee surprise arrived – an incredible blessing after trying for so long.

In both of these moments I was faced with a loss of control and certainty about the future. I was weak, vulnerable, on my knees, crying out to God. I’ve found that these moments of inadequacy and uncertainty are such amazing opportunities for God’s grace to shine through.

In his book, Man Enough, when discussing vulnerability Nate Pyle says:

There are going to be times in our lives when we are not strong enough to change the situation. Cancer. The loss of a job because of an economic crisis. Losing a loved one in a car accident. Only when we realize how truly little control we have over the world around us will we being to accept just how weak we are. And if we can embrace our weakness in the world and stop the pretense that we are super-natural he-men impervious to the threats of a broken world, then we will begin to see the strength of Christ move in and through us.

This is so true, and is something I will continue strive towards in the future. I want to be someone who is vulnerable and aware of the inherent uncertainties of life, who is willing to share these weaknesses with family and friends, and who endeavours to create an environment where others can also be vulnerable.

This is crucial to creating a close-knit community of disciples, where we journey with each other to seek Christ through the good times and the bad, where our human-ness shows through in sacred and holy moments. One further quote from Sarah Bessey:

[God] never shied away from our most piercingly human experiences – birth, pain, death, sickness – and so, can we not find him and his redemption ways there still?

Finally, I’ve been reading 2 Corinthians recently and what Paul writes in chapter 12 speaks directly to this topic:

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

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