Alleluia!! Alleluia!! Alleluia!!!!
The strife is o’er, the battle done;
Now is the Victor’s triumph won!
O let the song of praise be sung,
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that You have set us free from sin and death! You are the Victor! Sin is destroyed! Death, where is your sting? (1 Cor 15:55) Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
But, how does it happen that people still suffer and die? How does it happen that people continue to destroy one another? How does it happen that sin more and more abounds?
Lord Jesus, Help us to believe in You and to witness by our way of life that
“The Victor’s triumph IS won!”
From the beginning of Advent and through the past four months, I’ve been able to share with you the triumph of Jesus Christ over sin and death in my own life. Sin brought me to an unmarried pregnancy, (which I spoke about here) but the power of God’s mercy enabled me to be cared for during those difficult months, and to give the gift of my daughter to another couple (which you can read about here). Many generous people and amazing situations opened the way for me to begin life anew, and to be healed of the emptiness I felt (which you can read here).
The Lord Jesus continued to show me his love and mercy in the relationship that had gradually developed with a wonderful man who was to become my husband. “Gabe” and I had “given each other up for Lent,” that year, 1981, not dating or spending any exclusive time together (which is here). I lived each of those forty days with the sense that I was getting old (by that time, at the advanced age of 35!) and beyond any sense of a future and a hope. As Holy Week came, Gabe invited me to go to the Good Friday service with him, after which we spent time together on a porch swing reading the Book of Lamentations. Our courtship continued until one Sunday morning in October when Gabe finally proposed to me at what was definitely the “eleventh hour”! (He wore a watch that beeped on the hour, and as he completed the question, “So, Ruth, will you marry me?” and I answered, “Definitely!!”, we heard the “BEEP, BEEP!!” at 12 Noon.) We roared with laughter as we experienced another unexpected sign of God’s joyful presence. As we soon shared our happy news with my roommates, we found a beautiful white rose had been brought to me by another woman who could have had absolutely no knowledge of the possible events of that day. The Lord had told her to get a white rose and give it to me that day, and she was obedient!
God is so good! His love is everlasting! We were married the following April and settled into married life in a quaint little apartment in our neighborhood of many friends. As spring turned to summer and then to fall, some of those friends presented me with subtle comments of “So, Ruth, how’s it going….?” or “Anything happening….?”, to which I felt like responding, “MYOB: Mind Your Own Business.” I was just as impatient as they were for us to begin a family, but Gabe was much more patient and knew that it would be better for us to bond as a couple before becoming a “triad.” So it was the following spring, 1983 when we went in for testing. After a leisurely (and stress-relieving) camping weekend, we had the follow-up appointment with our family doctor and received the shocking news that we would be totally unable to have any biological children.
How could a good and generous God do such a nasty thing to me? I had given a child to someone else; why would He deny me a child of my own and our own? Now that I had a wonderful husband to feel a moving baby within me, why would God withhold from me that most intimate of joys!!? Was I angry? Absolutely! I had every “right” to a baby shower, to share the delivery of our child in the company of a loving husband; I had the “right” to nurse our own child and to watch him or her grow, crawl, toddle, walk, go to school….. Yes, I was very angry. I was very angry at God, and equally angry at Gabe who was somehow relieved of the practical responsibilities of parenthood. All the grieving that I hadn’t done earlier hit me now with a sense of the total “unfairness” of God’s will. Equally painful were the comments of “You can always adopt.” “Maybe the doctor was wrong. Keep trying…” “Don’t try….” “Maybe the Lord wants you doing something else.” I didn’t want something else. I wanted our own baby!
Those with wisdom just hugged. They listened. They cried with me. As I look back now, I see that I am gifted with the ability to empathize — not only sympathize — with those who suffer from infertility as well as those who suffer from unexpected and unappreciated fertility!
We explored a missionary ministry with a pilgrimage trip to Israel. (No, definitely not ! “Herod’s revenge” hit me with brutality!)
We explored adopting newborns. Too old. (Sigh! “Parents cannot be 38 years older than the child they adopt.” GRRRRR!!!!)
We considered foster parenting. (Foster parents must jump through hoops backward and blindfolded…..! If natural parents had to prove their suitability as parents, no one would ever qualify!)
Eventually we did become licensed foster parents and took in short-term newborns, those whose mothers needed time to consider placing their children for adoption or to be raising them themselves. We set up a baby’s room in our home and would come to church one week with an infant, but the next week or two, with no infant. There were four or five who came and went. Eventually we received a twenty-one-month-old boy, “Robbie,” more newborns, and later a nearly two “Tony.” At one point, for nearly a year, we had three boys, a pair of brothers ages four and six, in addition to Robbie, at that point three years old. (For not being parents, it surely felt like parenthood!)
When the time came that Robbie was available for adoption at the age of five, we prayed seriously whether or not we should in fact adopt him and become a “forever family.” As we brought our decision before the Lord in prayer, He kept saying to me, “Consider the timing.” Consider the timing??? What would that mean? “Consider the timing!” OK, Lord. I’ll consider the timing! I pulled out my previous-years’ calendars, which were filled with the names and comings and goings of children, appointments with social workers and visiting Moms or children visiting at Mom’s. I went farther back to earlier events, the trip to Israel. There was the “fateful” doctor’s appointment, which I found from the camping trip, and still farther back to our wedding date. OK, Lord, so what are you saying??? (…and all He said was “Consider the timing.”) OK. I looked for what He might have meant. Wedding in April 1982. Learned of our infertility in June, 1983. Went to Israel…., became foster parents….. I sensed the Lord standing beside me with arms folded and a grin on his face, as if to say, “Come on; think about it,” I’m sure I rolled my eyes as I looked again at that ’83 calendar. June. Monday, June 20th. Doctor Wallace. 10:00AM. What was it about June 20th? Oh, June 20th was Robbie’s birthday. Robbie’s birthday! June 20, 1983. IT WAS ROBBIE’S BIRTH DAY!!
Have you ever experienced “Holy Ghost Goosebumps???” With tears of joy and wonder, I realized what the Lord had done! In his amazing mercy, our loving Father was making it clear to us that Robbie was to be our child. Robbie was born on the exact day that the Lord had closed the earlier door! We later learned that Robbie’s birthmother’s labor had begun on the previous Friday, but that he hadn’t been born until the very early morning of Monday, June 20th, the exact day we learned that we would be unable to have any natural children…..!
It was clear, without a shadow of a doubt: Robbie had been intended by the Lord God to be our son! “For I know the plans that I have for you; they are for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
The Strife is O’er, the Battle Won, Now is the Victor’s Triumph Won!!
But not totally. There were to be more skirmishes! Join us again next month!
Please pray with us for the needs of Elizabeth Ministry and
RECLAiMTM Sexual Health:
- Lord Jesus, it appears that Jeannie, the founder of Elizabeth Ministry, will need surgery. Please relieve her of the pain she experiences and the need for surgery. Restore her vigor and her health!
- For “John and Mary” following the death of their 2 1/2 year old son, “Benjamin”, in mid-March, due to brain cancer. Lord, Jesus, relieve their sorrow and strengthen their hope!
- Brad, who is now 14, continues to struggle with Crohn’s Disease, especially as his hormones are changing. Give him the courage and the patience to live with the effects of Crohn’s. Or heal him!!!
- There are many couples who deal with infertility; be with them in their sorrow. Open a path for them to experience your love and mercy. There are also women who are experiencing a troublesome and unexpected pregnancy. Be with those mothers and lead them to give birth and, if it be your will, to generously relinquish their babies to those who could adopt them.
- Jesus, through the intercession of your sorrowful Mother, touch those women who grieve the loss of their children, those whose babies have been miscarried or those whose babies have died as a result of intended abortion or other forms of terrorism. Give us the words to say that bring healing to sorrowing hearts.
- Lord, many people are living in stress-filled circumstances. Where the stress comes from sin, turn the hearts of these men and women to you, that they may experience the forgiveness, the healing and the new life that you have to offer them. Help all people to seek and find you, Jesus, as their source of peace.
- Jesus, many young people are confused with their emotions and their identity. Reach back into hurtful memories and cleanse their minds, that they might return to innocence and joy.
- O Holy One, hear the pleas of those who struggle with pornography or other unwanted practices. Set them free! Give them a desire for healing and health! Lead them to RECLAiM Sexual Health, to begin the training that can change their minds, their hearts, their behaviors, and their relationships.
- Lord Jesus, the financial needs of RECLAiM are considerable. Please provide for us many generous contributors who could provide for our needs. Thank you!!
In your Mighty and Merciful Name,
Lord Jesus Christ, we pray!