When Deanne and I were expecting our first child we got the message from medical professionals and most everybody we heard from on the topic that labor is long and terrible. But since we hadn’t been through labor before we didn’t know how long or how terrible it would be.
Expecting labor to be long, we acted accordingly. When, in the middle of the night, my wife felt the contractions happening she went back to sleep, as instructed. When the contractions were closer together and increased in intensity she knew our baby's arrival was getting closer but still didn’t know how long long would be. So she let me continue to sleep. When she did wake me up I expected long to be a bit longer. I prepared some food for us to take to the hospital. I think there were pancakes and peas involved..not sure, it wasn’t too important but felt like it needed to be done at the time. Who knew how long this would take? I didn’t realize the hospital would have provided all the food we needed, they had to be prepared, as some people are there for a really long time. We were waiting for the contractions to be five minutes apart for an hour, suddenly they were only one minute apart and getting intense.
I helped Deanne as she moved gingerly to our car. As we sped and bumped along the Philadelphia highway the pain became unbelievably intense. Deanne wanted to have our baby all naturally, without medication, but if it was going to be much longer she didn’t think she could bear it. When we got to the hospital she had me fetch her a wheelchair, she could hardly walk. The attendant I asked to provide a wheelchair kind of laughed and said they’d have her walking all over the place up there but allowed me to get my wife some wheels. When Deanne rolled into the unit the nurses rolled their eyes at this little Asian lady who had only been in labor for almost three hours.
I thought it was safe to park the car. Deanne tells me she changed into a gown and got on the examination table, she feels the baby, “drop,” and exclaims that she needs to push. She is quickly examined and the nurses' words are, “where is her husband!?” The baby was coming.
As I strolled back into the unit after being gone for just minutes I am rushed into the delivery room where Deanne is making sounds I’m never heard before and I suddenly sound like a broken record saying, “you’re doing great,” over and over much to Deanne annoyance. It wasn’t long at all before a celebrated, “it’s a boy!” Nope, I was corrected by the midwife, “it’s a girl.” That was the umbilical cord. :))
Eden Eremiya, our sweet surprise girl arrived and the long wasn’t nearly as long as we expected. It was terrible but at least terrible was short.
When Deanne felt the contractions with Ezra we went straight in and it’s a good thing because he was out in just three hours of total labor. When Deanne felt like pushing he was coming so fast that the resident who delivered the baby told her not to push. He was coming quick enough on his own. He was the quickest and easiest.
Salem pretty much followed suit except that he wasn’t born in the middle of the night like the others.
Judah was completely different. Long was longer. We went in around 1 a.m. as Deanne was having regular contractions but we were almost sent home because though she was walking all over the unit things were progressing very slowly. Eventually, the team decided a whiff, as the nurse called it, of Pitocin was in order. Judah then shot out within an hour and he was born at 1:19 p.m., which was eight or nine hours different than the others.
We thought we had Deanne’s pattern figured out but things were unique this time around.
Sometimes I think we assume that God has certain predictable patterns of behavior. In a sense, He does because He is a God of character. He is always love for example, but that love can show up very differently for each of His children. We don’t know how God will answer our prayers in any given situation but we know that He will respond to our prayers somehow. It can certainly be mysterious because His ways are so beyond us.
John the Baptist was the predicted forerunner who announced the Messiah’s arrival. He boldly identified Him to the world, told people to get ready for His judgment, and even got to baptize him, see the Spirit come down, and hear the Father’s voice confirm that this was indeed His beloved son in whom he was well pleased.
But then he ended up in prison and rumor had it that Jesus’ ministry wasn’t going as he expected. He sent his own disciples to ask if he was the real Messiah or if they should expect someone else.
Jesus replied by referencing unexpected Messianic verses in Matthew 11:5–6, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
I think John and his disciple were comforted and satisfied with those words.
Here’s what I suspect for our lives. God won’t come through just when we would expect. He won’t necessarily do what we’d want in our finite perspective even if biblically informed. But He is there, He does hear, He is love and he will do amazing things.
Do the unexpected things He has called us to do like serve, pray, read Scripture, and love, all the while expecting His unexpected goodness. Keep looking to Him, my friends. He will come through better than imagined in the end.
Take courage from these inspired words, “God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him.” - Pastor Nick