Since Harrison's birth I have struggled to find time to do regular devotionals and have been lax about attending church. Time is always flying and I am always behind. I was intellectually aware that having a baby was hard, but like everything else on this journey, until you are in it you don't really know what it is like. At this moment, I should be sleeping, but my mind is whirring away and by the time I get it to stop the boy will be awake again. Being a new mom is hard, no sleep, you are always guessing, just when you figure your baby out they change, and everything in life feels different. Not to mention the fact that my body, six months after birth, still does not feel like my own. Nursing means that I am still using it to nurture my child, and it just feels different. Clothes fit strangely, there is weird skin, the weight seems to be stuck, who knew hormones would be still be changing. This is not for the weak.
Keep in mind that I prayed for this, I begged God for this, I longed for this, and despite the above paragraph, I am thankful for all of this. However, I need to hold myself accountable and make some time for God or all of this will just get harder. In an effort to get back in the game, I have been doing and Advent devotional that I downloaded from Amazon. Tonight's study was about how John's disciples came to ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. As you may recall, John baptized Jesus and he was only a few months older. Elizabeth, another woman who struggled with infertility, felt her baby jump when she was visited by the pregnant Mary.
This part really hit home with me, because my friend Kristina and I were pregnant at the same time and our boys are about the same age apart as John and Jesus. Elizabeth knew that her son would be preparing the way for Mary's baby, but I don't think she knew how much he would sacrifice for this. When John sends his disciples to Jesus, he is languishing in prison because Herod's wife dislikes his ministry and considers him a social agitator. John knows Herod will kill him, but he also knows that if Jesus is the Messiah he can save him.
Jesus' response to John's disciples is to quote a passage from Isaiah about the things that the Messiah will do, but he changes it and says "tell him that I am". He knows that this will assure John that he is the Messiah, but he does nothing to free John from prison. In other words, John knows that he is dying for speaking the truth and fulfilling his godly purpose, but he also knows that there are no promise of ease or comfort. Jesus could have easily saved John, but instead John's head is served on a platter at the bequest of a young manipulative girl.
Why doesn't Jesus save John? And how must this have destroyed Elizabeth? Jesus doesn't save him because John's death served a larger purpose. He was killed by a man who didn't want to kill him, but was giving into the request of an angry and selfish woman. His death was unfair, and he did not deserve to die, but his death mirrored the death of his Messiah. Jesus was killed by a man who didn' want to kill him, but gave into the requests of an angry and selfish mob. Elizabeth watched her son die for the sake of his ministry, and was the only person on Earth who could have reached out and comforted Mary.
John's life and death are a great example of Jeremiah 29:11. God knew the plans he had for him, and they included physical harm, but John's death and life served to prepare the way for the Messiah. His Mother's struggles with infertility was part of the plan because it ensured that he would be born just a few months before Jesus. When I think of all the times she must have cried at not being pregnant and how she had been chosen for this special child, it gives me chills. This season is about the birth of Christ, but John was a miracle to his parents.
God doesn't promise us an easy life, nor do we get an assurance that we will know what our physical, mental, or emotional struggles will lead us to. John never lived to see Jesus' ministry and sacrifice on the cross. However, in that dark moment in prison, Jesus sent him words of comfort and I believe that John had enough faith to take comfort in them. I like to imagine that Elizabeth and Mary were able to comfort one another and find strength in their shared pain. Both of their miracle babies suffered unimaginable pain.
I don't know what the plan is for my miracle baby. I am reasonably confident that he won't be beheaded, but I know there will be times when he will suffer. He has already experienced physical discomfort and it kills me to hear his little "teeth hurt" cry. I can only imagine how much more painful it will be to watch him deal with larger trials. This is why I need to make time to meet with God on a regular basis. So that I can offer up my trials and be comforted, in order to be able to comfort the ones I love, and to be reminded that as much as I love my child, God loves him more. He knew about him before he was formed, and knows all of his days. When I get wrapped up and stressed, I forget this and anxiety takes over. This Advent I am working on meeting with God to parent and bless my personal miracle baby.