Blessed

Happy New Year to all!

We’ve made it through the Mayan ‘apocalypse’ and I have made it through a rough few weeks with the flu and pneumonia.  It seems like getting sick is my Christmas tradition, but this was one was especially bad.  Thankfully, it seems to be on its way out.  Having been doing a lot of sitting around while sick, I’ve been catching up on my Facebook/Email/UselessReadingThingsOnline.  While reading about everyone’s holidays and some sweet Christmas stories, I stumbled upon a couple of personal stories that really hit home.  These are two stories from two moms, neither of whom I know personally.  I found their stories because they had been shared by friends of friends on Facebook.

The first was the story of a young couple who had just given birth to their first child, a son.  They had also just buried him.  Their little boy was diagnosed with a condition called Anencephaly during an approximately 20-week ultrasound.  If you’ve never heard of this condition, it is considered one of the worst birth defects that can occur.  It’s listed as ‘not compatible with life’.  Basically, ‘Anencephaly’ means ‘without brain’.  These little babies are normal in every way, except their neural tube does not close at the top very early in development.  Therefore, they have almost no brain (just a brain stem) and no skull covering the top of their head.  I’m sure you can imagine why this is ‘not compatible with life’.  This young couple was faced with the decision to either terminate the pregnancy or carry this little boy to term knowing that he would be stillborn or live only hours.  With great courage, they decided to carry him for almost twenty more weeks and then deliver him by c-section so that they might see him alive briefly.  On December 7th, he was born and lived about two hours.  And this little boy, who was supposed to be ‘blind, deaf, unresponsive, and unable to feel’ cried, turned at his mother’s voice, and tried to breastfeed.  I took two things from that…we should not underestimate the incredible power of our brain to ‘rewire’ itself…and it does not take a perfect brain to house a perfect soul.

The second story I read was about another young couple and another little boy.  This little one lived for more than four years with a condition that was supposed to have killed him shortly after birth.  He essentially had no muscle tone, and therefore couldn’t breathe without help.  He passed away suddenly this November, and his mother has been writing about her journey online.

Why, other than the fact that these are tragedies, did these stories make me think?  I believe it’s because I have a brand new baby and, when she was born, I was told over and over that we are so ‘blessed’.  And that’s true.  It’s a wonderful thing to be ‘blessed’ with four healthy children.  However, I don’t know that ‘having everything turn out great’ is the definition of ‘blessed’.  If it was, that would mean that God must love me more than the mother of that Anencephalic little boy.  He must think I deserve better than the parents who had to bury their four year-old.  And I am certain that neither of those things are true.  I believe that as Christians, we are all ‘blessed’.  Because this is what ‘blessed’ means, from a Biblical scholar:

“The Hebrew word בָּרוּךְ (blessed) conveys the idea of being strengthened, of our weakness being compensated for with God’s strength.  The field of meaning of its root
(ברך) is “to kneel, bless, praise, salute.””

“One of the nouns which derives from this root is the Hebrew word for “knee” (בֶּרֶך), which is one of the weakest parts of the body; i.e. the English idiom for fear-stricken “weak in the knees.”  You can see even in English the relationship between the two words “knee” and “kneel.”  In our weakness, we kneel before God and He provides His strength (lit. blessing).  Thus a blessing from God is empowerment to be able to do what is not within our natural capabilities.”

You see, being ‘blessed’ has nothing to do with good fortune.  The blessings of God are manifested in our ability to endure things beyond which we can bear on our own.  I am ‘blessed’ simply because God is Lord of my life.  I am no more ‘blessed’ than these other two mothers.  I don’t have more of God’s favor.  He doesn’t like me more.  We are each walking the path God has put before us.  We are all walking in His blessing.  I do not know why these two mothers had to endure their specific tragedies.  I am grateful for my healthy babies, but I do not feel any more ‘blessed’, because to do so would imply that these other families did not receive an equal measure of God’s blessing.  And if you read their stories, you will discover very quickly that they don’t feel that way either.  Neither expressed any regret over carrying these babies to term and giving them the best life they could, whether for hours or years.  Neither felt less ‘blessed’ by their children.  I looked up and read several more stories written by other mothers who carried their Anencephalic babies to term, and all of them described their children as ‘blessings’.  These little bodies may have been imperfect, but their souls were beautiful blessings.

So the next time a healthy baby is born in your life, thank God.  But thank Him through the tears, as well.  Thank God for His blessings, which are manifested in every aspect of our lives…the good, the bad, and the worse.  As hard as it is sometimes, we must remember that it is not our circumstances that make us ‘blessed’.  Blessing comes simply from walking humbly in the grace and provision of God.

I’m going to leave this entry with the chorus to one of our songs from last year’s Easter show, because I wrote the words during a sad time in my life.  It speaks to this idea that the promise of God’s blessing does not always mean perfection.  Yet, we are still blessed.

“We are not promised,
that life will go as planned,
that the outcome will be good,
that we will always,
understand.
The way is steep and rugged,
it’s the narrow not the broad,
but I’ll not fear the journey,
for Lord you are my God.
No, I’ll not fear this journey,
for Lord you are my God”
             — We Are Not Promised, from Century

One thought on “Blessed

  1. Pingback: Capture Your Grief 2014 – Day 1: Sunrise | julieanncook.com

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