Pastor Kim spoke from 2 Corinthians 4:13-19 a few Sundays ago and as I caught snippets of his sermon in the cry room while distractedly tending to Peyton (who was living up to the room’s name), I hastily jotted down this one sentence: “Trials will devastate your idols.” If I didn’t believe it before, I definitely do now.Peyton turned 6 weeks old last Friday, and though I hesitate to call my time with her a trial or categorize it as suffering (because motherhood is a joy and she is an amazing gift to us), I don’t want to minimize my experience this past month and a half. A simple Google search showed the definition of suffering as ”the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship.” Pain -- physical and emotional? Check. Distress in trying to soothe a seemingly inconsolable newborn? Check. Hardship in enduring sleepless nights while recovering from a hard labor and leveling out of conflicting hormones? CHECK.
Worse was coming face to face with the idols that I discovered -- namely an extreme case of self-love, pride, and love of comfort and convenience to name a few. As I sat nursing her for hours on end, I felt detached and angry because she demanded so much from me and yet great shame in feeling this way. Many tears sprinkled on her tiny body as I wrestled through physical and emotional fatigue, all the while sobbing over the guilt of not being 100% joyful in serving her.
One day as I despaired over my circumstances, I asked Jesse if Peyton even knew who I was, or if she even loved me. I felt used and depleted of all of my whole being, it seemed, for this little human whom I waited so long to arrive but at the same time burst into our lives without warning. But Jesse gently reminded me that true love is sacrificing oneself for another without expecting anything in return.
True love. Sacrificial love. The love that God had for us in sending us Jesus, His Son. In that moment, it became incredibly clear how great God’s love was for me -- a sinful, incredibly helpless, needy, completely dependent, depraved babe myself.
In Ezekiel 16, God compares the nation of Israel to a baby cast aside in a field, abandoned, neglected, naked and bare. But God in his abundant Fatherly love walked by and gave her life. He caused her to flourish, spread the corner of His garment over her and covered her nakedness, washed off her blood and anointed her with oil. But she grew proud and abandoned the One who gave her life, and He allowed her to walk her own way and suffer the consequences of her sins. Yet at the end of chapter 16, he says, “I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord GOD.”
- Ezekiel 16:62-63.(You should read the whole chapter! It’s amazing!)
This God who loved Israel, is the same God who loves a sinner like me, yet he chooses to wash and clothe me as a loving Father. He also covers my shame and has atoned all that I have done through the blood of His Son.
God’s perfect love for me is the only way I can truly love Peyton. The breaking down of my idols in this trying time is God’s loving way of pointing out my sin and helplessness so that I might turn to Him in total reliance and trust -- much like how Peyton relies on us as her parents. I can look at her neediness and see my great need for my Father and have her cries point me to cry out to God for His provisions. I will constantly fail to love her as I should, but as a child of God, there is grace for today and a great hope for tomorrow.
In every trial there are abundant blessings and great joy to be found. We have found ours in a sweet, precious baby girl who is a wonderful gift from our Father. We love her and will love her better with each day!
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. - 2 Corinthians 3:18