“The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Zephaniah 3.17
In times of grief, anxiety, and despair, this verse in Zephaniah has often been a comfort to me. It is a source of comfort because I know that whatever is going on that God is present, providing for me and loving me in ways that I cannot quite understand.
I first began to get my head around this concept a few years ago when I was pregnant. I felt an extreme amount of nervousness and anxiety during my pregnancy, knowing that miscarriage and other problems in pregnancy could occur. Yet God began to reassure me that as much as I loved the unborn child growing on inside of me, that he loved so much more. And not only did God love him or her, but He watched over the child diligently to guard and protect in the way that he saw fit. It was hard, so hard to trust that God knew what He is doing. But I did, and he does. And in this I began to rest, at least I tried to.
God was faithful and brought the baby through the pregnancy safely and soundly. There were no hiccups, bumps along the way or anything else of concern besides the fact that I was always hungry. Throughout the entire pregnancy, God remained faithful to me and my unborn child, keeping us away from all forms of sickness and disease which was amazing as I know so many people are miserable throughout their pregnancy because of the same thing that God was protecting me from.
At last, the long awaited day of labor and delivery finally came. And I was excited. I was excited to see my baby face to face, and hold her, and kiss her little head, and so I was ready to go. I had prepared for this day as much as possible by taking Bradley classes with my husband, writing out a birth plan, switching to a better hospital, exercising and doing way too many Kegel exercises. Yet after being in labor 42 hours, I was only dilated 4 centimeters even though my water had already broke.
By the time I was absolutely tired and had given up on the idea of being able to give birth to this baby naturally. But my doctor did not want to resort to surgery just yet…thank God for her! What she wanted to do was give me an epidural so that she could increase the level of pitocin that was being administered. Her hope was that with the high dosage of pitocin and my being able to rest through the contractions because of the epidural that I would dilate even more. I also thank God for my husband and my doula who encouraged me to go with what the doctor was suggesting as at this point I just wanted to be done. As I made this decision, my husband read to me a host of instructions about one is supposed to do while the drug is being injected but what he said literally went in one ear and out the other as I was so fatigued that I could not pay attention if I wanted to.
Eventually the anesthesiologist came to inject the drug. It was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life as it was administered while I was in the midst of extremely painful contractions and she was not gentle. I remember that I started to feel some pain in my groin area that was immensely uncomfortable. I started to cry and then all of a sudden this electric shot went through my legs that shook them and myself to the core. I had no idea what was going on and began to cry, but looking at my husband’s face in the midst of it and his look of horror made me cry more. Then my body started to go completely numb. The thing about it though was that my throat started to also feel weird as if it was also going numb as well, and I felt as if I could not breathe. I kept explaining that to the nurses and doctors around me, and no one seemed to listen or to understand what was exactly going on with me. But when they could not find my blood pressure after repeated attempts to do so, my doctor got concerned and took matters into her own hands, lowering the levels of pitocin and the epidural, which brought me relief. Yet when she did find my pressure, it was dangerously low, not that I knew this at the time. At the time, I was distracted watching As Good As It Gets, laughing at the clumsy relationship between Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. Thank God for comedy!
After a few hours, I think it was about two or so, of being on the pain medication and the increased pitocin, my nurse came back in to check if I had dilated any further. I had not. And so, the c-section discussion came, a discussion that I had already set in my mind to have hours before and so I was completely calm. There was something about the love of God for me in that moment that put all of my anxiety to rest. Of course I would have preferred that things go differently especially since I had done all that I could to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery. But the love of God reassured me in that moment, just as he did in that moment months ago when my pregnancy first began – he was diligently watching over me, more concerned about my health and wellbeing than I ever could be.
On July 7th at 11.28p.m, my precious daughter entered the world and the words of Zephaniah that God gave me when I was initially pregnant he gave to me again. As I put my daughter to sleep, nursed her or just tried to soothe her in general I sung these words that calmed my spirit months ago, knowing that God was diligently watching over her. He delights over her in ways that I never will, and I know that as much as I want to provide for her and be there for her, he desires such so much more.
Witnessing the love of God firsthand like that was humbling. It was humbling because I understand that he did not have to save me like he did. I realized that it was not anything that I did or did not do to afford his grace in my life but he simply desired to do so, and for that, I am here today. Yet had he not spared me, he would not have ceased to be loving, merciful and gracious. And this is the confounding mystery of God – how can love exist where tragedy and suffering lie? I cannot pretend as if I knew the answer, any answer I could provide would be inadequate and would not take into account the thoughts, plans, and purposes of God that are so beyond us that we cannot understand them all. What I do know is that God sings, in fact he rejoices with a type of love that knows no bounds. A love that persists even when I do not understand or comprehend it. A love that is not defined by my expectations but is based on who God is all of the time.