Last Sunday our friend A, Tim and I journeyed 15 minutes down the road to visit our dear friend L at her new church. It was a joy to see her in her new home and realize that ultimately she is going to be ok there as much as I would love to have her back at our church! In typical L fashion, she preached a truly inspired message. The woman clearly has a gift!
The sermon was based on Exodus 16, when the Israelites are in the desert hungry. They grumbled and complained. We should have died in Egypt, at least then we had food and weren't hungry. God told them he would provide in the midst their hunger by sending meat at night and bread in the morning. Quail arrived in time for dinner and when the morning dew lifted, it revealed thin flakes of manna. The Israelites looked at each other and said, "What is it?" Even after God told them it was coming, they still could not comprehend. Sure it may not have been "pots of meat" they had feasted on in Egypt, but it was sustenance for that leg of their journey.
L went on to share about some manna moments. One most poignant was after she delivered her son. She was staying on a mixed floor at her hospital where mothers who have just delivered babies are in rooms right next to people who have just had surgery. The last night they were there, baby W screamed through the entire night. L couldn't help but feel concern for the poor person in the room next to her who likely was desperately in need of rest.
In the morning as they were leaving, a woman came out of the room next door. She asked L if she was the one with the baby to which L sheepishly replied yes. The woman said, "My friend is dying of ovarian cancer in this room. She listened to your baby all night and said it was the sound of new life." Manna.
This past week I learned a friend is in the midst of a devastating situation. It's the kind of news that kept me up at night hurting for my friend, trying to make sense of it, unable to to wrap my head around the situation and what the future will look like for him and his family. The one thing that I have sensed through all of this is that his relationship with his son is stronger than it has ever been. In the midst of what would cause some to crumble, he has clung to his child and found hope in the love he has for his little boy. Manna, food to sustain him for the journey.
Tuesday we had the pleasure of seeing our baby girl once again on an ultrasound. It was a brief reprieve as we enter an even more emotional time of the third trimester. We were amazed by her beauty and how we can already see some semblance between her and her sister. Manna, food to sustain us for the journey.
It reminds me of a sermon our pastor, G, preached about this time last year. The text was Genesis 22 when Abraham is sent to the mountain to sacrifice Isaac, the son that he had waited his whole life for. Isaac even asks on the way what they will sacrifice. Abraham responds that God will provide. Just as Abraham raises the knife above his beloved son, God provides a ram for the sacrifice. G went on to say, "the God Abraham knows is not one of plans, but of promise."
I hear so frequently in the midst of horrible situations, "God has a plan." I just want to say, did God plan the death of my child? Did God plan the sickness that has ravaged your body and left you at times virtually lifeless? Did God plan your divorce? God planned that? That is no god that I want part of. God didn't plan the pain, the brokenness, he offered the promise, the dream of life restored.
God did not plan Cara's death so that he might offer us our new child's life. I want to be clear that this little baby kicking fervently inside me is not the answer to losing Cara. She does not absolve that pain for us. There is no way that she could erase the last year and a half of living in a house that is far too quiet, void of our firstborn child. God did not plan our miscarriage in September to pour salt in our open wounds.
However in February, he offered us manna, a promise. For even now, though known only to us in the womb, our wished for child has already been our manna, food to sustain us for the journey. With this new little babe in our lives, perhaps we will be able to survive a life that some days still feels unlivable. She is our promise and our hope of some life restored.
Sunday L concluded her sermon by challenging us not to ask "What is it?" but to look at the manna and say, "There it is."