Too Good to be True?

“This is too good to be true.” 

I thought it the night my then boyfriend and I made our relationship official. I thought it at new years 2020 when we got engaged. I thought it on our wedding day. I thought it the moment I found myself in a hospital bed with our sleeping firstborn cuddled against my chest.

There are some things in life that prompt a kind of otherworldly happiness, a transcendent delight that seems somehow out of place compared to the rest of our human experience. That’s why so often we describe such things as “too good to be true”. We are natives to a world full of brokenness. Our expectation for existence itself is shaped by our rather uncomfortable familiarity with pain, disappointment, fear, guilt, grief, and conflict, among a host of other wrongnesses. It isn’t just romance that prompts such moments, but let’s use it as an example.

We are very aware that even the most amiable of earthly romances have not escaped the enevitable, tragic ending that all human relationships face, that is of separation in death. All earthly relationships, no matter how special or intense, come to an end. Even if two people proclaim their undying love for one another, and live it out, they themselves are not undying creatures, at least while they dwell on Earth. This is why we have tragic love stories, like those in the classic dramas or Shakespeare. With the existence of transcendent joys comes the potential, even inevitability of profound sorrow.

There’s something very wrong about that, though. The reason we have such phrases as “undying love” is precisely because we feel that love is something that should last, something eternal, something that doesn’t quite make sense in the context of a world full of betrayal and death. So, too good to be true? Yes, in one sense, it is. 

And yet, it is true. 

Perfect love stories untainted by sorrow are a thing only of fiction, but beautiful love stories do exist, and it begs the question why? 

I am from the eastern US, a place that at one point must have been completely forested, and even now is full of trees. I grew up walking wooded paths in all seasons, and always loved looking at the patches of sunshine that filtered through the canapy above, pooling in warm golden puddles on the forest floor. There was one particular place, a thick pine grove at the top of a steep rocky hill beside the Patapsco River, where even in brightest daytime it was always dark and full of shadows. The top of the trees had become so thick that the lower limbs were no longer living, and many of them had fallen onto the ground and tangled themselves into shrubs growing up between the trunks. The gnarled scaly branches seemed to reach out sometimes to snag clothes and hair, and crackled menacingly underfoot. 

It was not an inviting wood. I often imagined the sorts of dark-dwelling creatures that might be lurking in the underbrush. Those lovely pools of sunshine were very rare there, and were thus all the more precious to me. There, they weren’t just pretty, but a sign of hope, that light still existed somewhere beyond my gloomy surroundings. 

Things we call “too good to be true” can be like that. They point to something else, a world beyond our present reality that is full of goodness and light. As Christians, we call that place Heaven, and the source of the light is the king of Heaven, that is, Jesus. Our world is dark, and we in some ways only expect dark things because of that, but there are beautiful things because there is a beauty that exists eternally outside our realm of space and time. Like the sun glimmering through the branches of the trees, Jesus shines into our somber reality in every lovely or joyful thing we have on earth. 

So, too good to be true? No, only too good to be earthly, and it is a sign of God’s grace that we can see it. Even when the world was corrupted by our sin, God did not abandon us entirely to it. He preserves such good things out of his own goodness so that we can see him, and be lead to worship him. It is like Psalm 19, which says that the Heavens declare the glory of God. So it is that every otherworldly beauty beckons us to kneel in reverent awe of the one who made it, and when we rise to carry on, we have hope, knowing that they point to a time to come, when those things that seem “too good to be true” will be the only truth. The sun puddles of the forest will expand to engulf every bit of the wood, and there will be no more shadows. 

Learning Hospitality

With four people and one dog living in our little 1 bed apartment for the last month, life has felt quite full recently. Full, like a cup of hot tea that you have to balance just perfectly, or else burn your hands. Full, like a vas bursting with vibrant blooms. Full, like a car packed tight with traveling things, straps dangling out the doors and just barely enough room to see out the back. Full, like the feeling after a much needed meal, with the pleasant warmth of it heavy in your belly, and the taste still in your mouth. 

We have been challenged in it. More often than not, it felt like a grand Game of human Tetris, as we squeezed by one another in the kitchen, or tripped over one another in the sitting room. Logistics were a constant balancing act, with three adults in the house, but only two sets of keys and no buzzer on the front door of the apartment building. Plans had to be discussed carefully. Phones kept charged. Responsibilities carefully delegated and schedules organized so that everyone could access what they needed at the time they needed it. 

It was a challenge spiritually, finding that when our routine was interrupted we were much less likely to spend the time we needed to with God. It was tricky sometimes emotionally, with lack of space or privacy for all of us, always needing to and often failing to make proper concessions for the other people around us to be cared for. 

It was a challenge as parents of an infant. If she didn’t sleep, would our guests be kept up as well? If she was cranky during the day, would our guests be stressed? 

There were more elements to consider, too, when unexpected things happened. For example, one night our dog woke up one of our guests throwing up. That’s not a fun situation to deal with when it’s just you being woken up, let alone your poor sweet jet-lagged friend who traveled thousands of miles to see you and now is sleeping on your couch. Our tiny, old living space is not the most comfortable spot at the best of times, but now, we were constantly reminded just how unideal it was because we were conscious of the way it might be affecting our friends. Were they too cold? That draft coming in our window is awful. Could they relax in the shower we cannot get properly clean for the life of us? Did they mind how awkward it was to eat meals without a table? Goodness, if only our tiny kitchen had a place to sit. They must be so uncomfortable having to stand in the kitchen, like I do every evening, as my child sleeps in the bedroom and my husband finishes his evening shift in the sitting room.

So yes, we were challenged, but we were also blessed beyond measure, and are more aware than ever of the graciousness of our God who alone can be credited for the gift it is to live somewhere safe and warm, with family and friends that may as well be family close at hand. For all the trickiness that has been involved with our living situation over the last 4 or 5 weeks, we have delighted in laughter together, lovely meals and conversation, time for our guests to enjoy and get to know our daughter, movie nights, wine nights, prayer and Bible time, walks and wanders outdoors, and shared responsibilities around the home.

As thankful as we were to find accommodation a month before we got married, my husband and I (admittedly mostly I) have spent a good deal of the last two years living here complaining about all it’s inconveniences… too small, no table, no tub, moldy, broken appliances… the list goes on, but we have found recently that as God has challenged us to be hospitable even in our small inconvenient space, we have seen his blessing in it multiply greatly. A roof over our heads, indeed, but a place where we can love and provide for dear friends? A place where we can host family? A place where we can give of ourselves, our time, money, and effort to others… a place where the Gospel can be discussed, where, we pray, Christ can be glorified? Wow. That is true blessing. I hope he will do as much and far more in our next home. 

A Dwelling Place for Eternal Beings: Learning About Contentment in a Season of Searching

They say moving is one of the most stressful life events you can experience. I always thought that was because of the effort of physically dragging all your belongings from one place to another, and then finding yourself in a place where you may not have the same social circle you are used to and feel out of place and disorganized. Having actually moved several times since then,, though, I personally think the hardest thing about moving is all the stuff that happens before you actually start packing, that is, the house hunt. 

We’ve been on the house hunt for half a year now. I’ve found it incredibly challenging for a couple of reasons. I suppose there are the obvious difficulties, of identifying houses that fit your criteria, establishing that they are available and within your budget, visiting them, and potentially making an offer, but then there is the emotional element.

Every house we visit that seems viable, I start imagining. I envision our baby growing up there. I think about the things we might change, the furniture or decorations we might use, what we might do with the garden or shed, the opportunities we might have there to be a blessing to our church family or neighbors through hospitality. With each house, a new set of dreams is born, and each time we have to move on from that house, for one reason or another, those dreams have to die. 

As those dreams come and go, I find that I struggle more and more with contentment in our current situation. I visit a house and see that we could have a kitchen table, a bathtub, a garden, a sitting room big enough to have company, room for our daughter to crawl and toddle safely, storage (blessed, blessed storage space), etc, and naturally I am reminded that we don’t have those things right now, and it could be a while until we do. The emotions rise then, frustration, fear, doubt, and I have to reevaluate. What is really important here? Is it the convenience of a kitchen table, or the luxury of a bathtub, or is it something else? 

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Phil 4:11-12).

My husband works weekdays from our sitting room, which means my dog, my daughter, and I spend our days in our bedroom and postage stamp kitchen. Baby plays with her toys on the bed, or, if I have cooking or cleaning to do, she sits in her bouncer or plays on her mat (which covers pretty much our entire kitchen floor hahaha), and I scoot awkwardly around her to do my chores. It’s times like these that I think, man, it would be great to not have to trip over my baby in order to do my laundry.”

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:16, ESV)

It was in one of these moments that the Lord stopped me in my tracks. I listened to my baby cooing as I stepped carefully around her on her mat, and was tempted as usual to dwell resentfully on the lack of space, but instead all I could think about was her. Suddenly I saw her, not just as my sweet little baby, but as an eternal soul. Her days were already laid out for her by the all-powerful God that made her, days that I was living with her even now. God planned that she should be playing on her mat in our tiny old apartment, and that I should be singing to her while I shuffled around her to do dishes and fold clothes. God planned that I should be her mother, and my husband her father, and my dog her canine pal. God planned that we should raise her up to know and love him, to teach her his ways, and God willing to prepare her for an eternity spent worshipping him in glorious daily activity in the new Heaven and new Earth. 

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

Joy filled my heart at that thought. I didn’t have to have a kitchen table to teach my little girl about Jesus, or to model his love to her every day. I didn’t need a bath tub to tell her what it means to be a sinner in need of forgiveness, or to share the Good News that Jesus took the wrath that we deserved and that we may have everlasting life in him.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)

When I think about our apartment in the context of worldly standards, it is just a drafty, old matchbox, but when viewed in the context of eternity, it becomes a sanctum of holy joys, a place where God can be served and praised and delighted in, a place that may not be suited to comfortable dining, or entertaining any number of guests, but that is perfectly suited to entertaining the Holy Spirit, and all the work he has for us here and now as he intended from eternity past. I still look forward to moving, and I think we will still struggle from time to time with contentment regarding our housing, but I pray that every time my thoughts stray toward dissatisfaction, God would remind me once again of the incredible blessing it is to have his sovereign hand at work in our lives. Now is not a wasted season spent searching for a home while we are trapped in a cold and inconvenient living space. Now is a season that God has planned to prepare myself, my husband, and my baby for an eternity spent in the house of our Father. There is no house hunt more important than the one that ends there.

Give Me the Will of a Woman

It’s 2022… and you know what that means.

More posts at random intervals on semi-arbitrary topics written purely for the enjoyment of the process you say? Ha, wrong again… well, I mean probably right but first…

It means it’s time for another poetic reflection. The Lord taught me many things over the last year, and one of those things has been my desperate need for Him to reform my desires, to cause me “both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13, ESV). This is my prayer for this year, that he would continue that refining process, changing my affections to reflect His, that I would hunger less after the things of this world and more for the things of His kingdom. I pray that he would do the same for you, and hope that you had a blessed Christmas and New Years.

I Need the Will of a Woman

I need the will of a woman,
Not the will of a wisp.
I need the want and the strength to do, like Ruth did, 
The thing I’m called to.


I need the Word, sung and sewn in my heart by the “Great Gardener”,
Who will change my will.
Would that he would. 
Would HE so that I could 
Walk on The Way that is narrow,
And plant the seeds he has placed in my hand.
My shepherd knows all of my faults.
He knows that I strive and fumble and fall.
He knows my will is the worst of them all,
And it is a wisp.
It is a whim that blows only one way,
And that only against.
It tantalizes, teases, whispers delights,
But they are always fleeting,
And always come at the price 
of blood.
I need the will of a woman like Mary.
“Let it be unto me as YOU have said.”
And let my will be dead.
Let my will be yours, And your will be done.
Give me the will of a woman.
Like Lydia who with her whole household sunk
Beneath the water and then rose up,
And left her old desires there in the sea,
To follow her Jesus to the cross,
To count every other thing as lost…
For the sake of Christ,
May He renew my mind,
And give me
The will of a woman of GOd.

Behold the Child Christ at Rest | A Christmas Reflection

I wrote this a few years ago as I reflected on the scene of the nativity. To think of God himself, come to Earth as a tiny newborn babe, with the weight of all the world’s sin upon him. To think of that little, perfect body that one day would be spent and scarred and ruined for the sake of people who defied him. TO think that he would choose to lay down his glory and power to become the humble son of a carpenter, and then refuse to take hold of that power even in order to escape a torturous and gruesome death on the Roman cross. It is just beyond comprehension… but I suppose I should let my little rhyme speak for itself.

Behold the child Christ at rest,

Whose hands and feet yet whole,

Will one day bear the mark of sin,

To save my wretched soul.

Behold his yet unblemished brow,

The promised king just born,

It’s there he’ll bear the royal crown, 

But first a crown of thorns.

This infant palm that man will pierce,

So filled with rebel pride,

That man will flog his maker, God,

And hang him there to die.

Behold the son of God who’s power,

Yet hid in swaddling cloth,

Shall reveal himself the Lord,

who heaven and nature rot.

And yet his power he will not use,

To save himself from pain,

but bow to the father’s will,

For broken sinner’s gain.

Rejoice oh darkness dwellers,

For now has come the light,

This lamb of God was slain for us,

To make our sin-stain white.

Enemies of God we were,

And slaves to evil deeds,

But christ  has one us to himself,

And set his people  free.

This infant king will grow to be,

Redeemer, friend, and guide,

And rule in us with grace and power,

Man nevermore to die. 

When Mama Is Not Enough

I was spending the afternoon at a friend’s house a couple of months ago. Her son, who was about 16 months at the time, loves books. I’d sat next to him and his mama while she read to him, but this time, he brought the book to me.

Woman reading a book to a toddler. Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com

“Uh-oh.” I said, as he put the book in my hands. I wanted to read it to him, but it was in print, and I couldn’t. My friend laughed at my expression. 

“It’s okay. Just make it up. He won’t know the difference.” 

I did, with the book upside down for a while hahaha until he went and chose another book. I kept making things up, and my friend was right, he didn’t seem to mind. Still, I shuttered to think about the moment, months or years down the road, when my child would bring me a book that I couldn’t read to her. Would I react so calmly in that situation, or would I break down because I couldn’t do it for her. 

It makes me sad that I can’t read any old book to her, that I have to have specific books brailled out or in digital formats to be able to share them with her, but that’s not going to change, and in reality, it wouldn’t be any different if I were a sighted parent. Sure, I could read books to her without a problem, but I’d have other failures, distractions, difficulties as an individual that would be challenging in other ways, a detriment to her. I know without a doubt that my blindness has shaped me as a person. Would I be as good of a mom to my baby if I hadn’t been molded so? Considering I believe in a sovereign God who shapes every one of our experiences I don’t think so. He made me the way I am for a purpose, and he chose me, out of billions, to be my daughter’s mama. 

When encountering those moments, I think it is important to remember a couple of things.

1 God will use my deficiencies to shape my daughter, just as I have been molded by them and those of my parents. He is a good God, and he will redeem every one of them for his glory and good purpose.

2 It is inevitable that I will fail my daughter, and frequently, but when she feels the weight of my failures, she has a heavenly father to run to who will never fail or forsake her. Every single time I prove inadequate in some way, there is an opportunity for her to turn to the one who lacks nothing, who gives graciously of his own perfect being to each of his children in abundant measure.

And thus, what appears to me utter insufficiency will become for her wholly sufficient, not because she has all in me or in any created thing, but because she has Christ, and in him, she has everything.

The Desire to Adopt as an Adopted Child of God | Reflecting on #WorldAdoptionDay

I have an adopted sister. She was adopted by her parents too, although not my parents. She was four years old when her parents adopted her as family, and 20 when I did. It’s funny when you adopt a sister apart from your parents, because there’s no legal process, no way to make the bond official to anyone else but yourselves, but the sisterhood is still there. She witnessed me grow up from a 16 year old, hot-headed kid to a 26 year old married, possibly still somewhat hot-headed mother. I have been there as she has navigated multiple college degrees, study-abroad, the loss of a parent, and marriage. God willing, we will share decades more of this life together, and she will be no less a sister when we are in our 80’s than she is now.

Maybe that’s part of the reason I’ve always had the desire to adopt a child. There has never been any doubt in my mind that the bond between parent and progeny is far more than biology. On this #WorldAdoptionDay, I can’t help thinking about that desire. In some ways it’s frightening to acknowledge. No matter how smooth the process, adoption always comes from a place of brokenness, and there are consequences for that. I know even from adopting an adopted sister that the trauma of loss from those early days of life can echo throughout the rest of a person’s adult years. We know from the Gospel that bringing such a child into your family is no easy task. Christ had to die on a cross to do it for us. Thus the adoptive parent must also take up their cross, and that daily, even hourly. 

And yet, the love that Christ has shown to us beckons me to love as he did, to share, as our father in heaven does, the love of a parent with one who would otherwise be orphaned. So the desire remains, and I struggle in prayer as I ask God to one day make it possible. I know that the desire for children is a good one, and we believe that God will place whatever children he has for us in our lives through whatever means he intends, whether through birth or adoption or otherwise. We know also that he will provide for those children, so as doubtful as it seems now that we, a year married with an infant in a tiny one-bedroom and a rather limited income, will ever be able to raise the funds to afford an adoption or have the sort of house we would need to pass a home study, we know that God is capable of far more than anything we would ask or think. It seems impossible that we, rebellious and rejected children, could ever be accepted into the family of a perfect and holy God, and yet through Jesus, that is exactly what we are. I believe it is possible in this case as well. Even if legal adoption is not in God’s plan for our family, I know that he will give us opportunities to lavish His love upon other unofficial family members, like my sister. For that,I am thankful, and will praise God as I continue to pray in hope. 

“Behold what manner of love the father has lavished unto us, that we should be called the sons of GOd.” (1 John 3:1)

A Sinner Lies Beside Me

I have written about forgiveness before on this blog. It’s one of those things we always want for ourselves, but not something we find easy to extend to others. This is true in even the most superficial relationships, but perhaps particularly true in our most intimate ones. Around this time last year, my husband and I were working through a conflict. We knew that we had promised to love one another, and even in absence of such a promise, we had a Christian calling to forgive others, no matter how difficult it was to do. I wrote this as I was reflecting on that calling, and praying for the Holy Spirit to soften my heart and make me gracious beyond my own ability. I wanted to share it here in case one of you is struggling to extend grace to someone in your life.. Perhaps someone has wronged you, and perhaps very gravely. You do not have to pretend that the person’s actions were justified in order to release them of any debt to you. Instead, trust in Christ, who extended you forgiveness in dying for your sins, who can empower you to love when you have no love, and who has an answer for every injustice ever done, either through His saving work on the cross, or in the work of judgement at the end of the age.

A Sinner Lies Beside Me 

A sinner lies beside me. A sinner in my womb, 

A sinner at the grocery. A sinner in the waiting room.

A sinner on the TV talking, a sinner in the uniform,

A sinner with the law book, writing, a sinner dead, a sinner born.

A sinner in the jail cell, a sinner in the court,

A sinner who is laughing, and a sinner who mourns.

A sinner in the window, a sinner on the street,

A sinner every man, woman, child that I meet.

A sinner lies beside me, a sinner in my womb,

A sinner in the mirror, He bled for me and you.

While I was yet a sinner, 

He humbled himself to die,

To save the souls of rebels, 

And them to justify.

And will I now forget it,

The grace I have received?

Deny to give it freely to,

A sinner just like me?

I must extend as he did,

The crimson love he poured,

To rescue me from trouble,

That I might be restored.

A sinner is beside me,

And to him must be given,

The blessing of forgiveness,

For I have been forgiven.

Today, all well and good. Tomorrow? Next week? Five years? Ten? Sixty? Only by God’s grace, and oh Lord, that you would grip my soul so powerfully with your gracious hand, that I might never be released from its holy power. Forgiveness is in and through your spirit. Seventy times seven, you said. Oh let it be so in my life.

“It Is Well with my Soul” | My Instrumental Arrangement

When I heard this was my then fiancé’s favorite hymn, I had it in my head to arrange it for him, but every time I sat down to do it I felt I couldn’t quite capture the mood I wanted to. It is a hymn that has meant a great deal to many over the decades, and I wanted to do the words justice, even if the words wouldn’t actually be sung in my version. A few months ago, we had the occasion to record some hymns for a church event facilitated by one of our friends. Deadlines are always immensely helpful for me in the creative process, so at last, I managed to record an arrangement I was happy with.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say

it is well, it is well with my soul.”

In this hymn, we find someone reconciling the good and the hard, as I have written about before. Whether times are easy, or fraught with trial and difficulty, the speaker is able to say, “It is well with my soul.”

But why? You may ask. Indeed, the writer of this hymn had recently lost his children in a shipwreck. How can one possibly say, “It is well?” in such a situation?

“Though satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blessed assurance control:

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate

and has shed his own blood for my soul.”

Thus, it is the blood of Christ which gives the speaker the ability to rest. Even in the darkest shadow of grief, he has hope through Jesus, who secured eternal life for all who trust in him when he gave himself up on the cross.

“My sin–oh the bliss of this glorious thought–

My sin, not in part, but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord oh my soul!”

The speaker recognizes that he, like every one of us, was born into bondage. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot free himself from his sin nature, that is, that part of him that compels him to think, say, and do wrong things. This is a problem, when you consider that a perfect and holy God must be perfectly just. There must be an answer for evil, including all the evil that you and I have done. God’s answer is found in Jesus. He took the punishment I deserved, and praise the Lord I can agree with the speaker in saying I bear my sin no more, and praise God, so do you if you trust in Jesus.

The hymn finishes with a triumphant vision of Christ’s glorious return at the end of the age. The speaker has such security in Christ that even as that dreadful time of judgement approaches, and those who have rejected Christ draw near to destruction, he can confidently say, “It is well”, because he knows his salvation is sure in Jesus.

“And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;

The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,

Even so, it is well with my soul.”

It is Well, Instrumental

Note: Though I think the theology of this hymn is sound, the writer, Horatio Spafford, had some very erroneous theological beliefs, and should not be considered an example of a faithful believer. When I use the word “speaker”, I mean it in the sense of poetic analysis, rather than in reference to the author. As we have seen many times throughout history, God is a mighty redeemer and can use even the lost to produce great works to encourage and uplift his people. I think that is the case here.

Do you have a favorite hymn? Why is it your favorite? Let me know in the comments. Perhaps I’ll be inspired to arrange that one, too.

Christ Identifies with Us in Pregnancy

Not far into pregnancy, I quickly discovered, as I’m sure many women do, that morning sickness is one of the great misnomers of our time. Morning sickness? You mean all day sickness? And if you’re referring to the time of day that it’s the worst, rather than the time of day that it is there (AKA nearly all the time), I would have to call it afternoon or evening sickness. The first time I threw up during my pregnancy was around two Pm. My husband noticed I was losing color, and encouraged me to lie down. He had to run out for a few things, so left me with a pot, just in case. I wasn’t expecting to do anything with the pot; so far over the last 12 weeks I only felt like throwing up, but never actually did… but only a few minutes after my husband had departed, I reached for the pot and clutched it to my chest. 

Maybe it’s called morning sickness because you throw up everything you ate in the morning, I theorized vaguely as fragments of my first meal made their rather uncivil reappearance. Why IS bringing new life into the world such a painful process, I wondered then, returning shakily to my pillow. Sin, I think, is the answer to that question, but we needn’t stop there. After all, there is an answer to sin, that is, Jesus, and he endured discomfort, pain, and humiliation to bring new life to all of God’s children. 

I am struck by the way pregnancy and birth, with all the associated difficulty and sometimes embarrassing side-effects, can point us to the cross. In John 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus that in order to be saved, he must be “born again” (John 3:1-7). This is because Nicodemus, like you and I, was first born with a nature prone to hating and rebelling against God. That is, he was physically alive, but spiritually he was “dead in his transgressions” (Ephesians 2:1). 

But how, as Nicodemus quickly asks, can one be born again? How does this “second birth” take place? Jesus says that it is through Him. In order for us to be reborn, Jesus, the Son of God, became also the Son of Man. He was born into the humblest of human situations. He endured the difficulties of daily life, including being tempted in all ways as we are. Though he remained always without sin, he chose to take on the penalty of our wrongdoing and suffered death on a cross.

Christ knows, more than anyone, what it is to suffer on behalf of another. He knows what it is to endure discomfort and even agonizing, unimaginable pain in order to bring new life into the kingdom of GOd. When I remember what Christ did for me, that I might receive new life, the trials and tribulations of pregnancy not only become easier to bear, but become also an opportunity to share, if very shallowly, in the sufferings of my savior. Through my discomfort, I get the joy of bringing a new life into the world, just as through his suffering, Christ granted new birth to every believer.

It’s not the comparison itself that matters. Any potential pain in pregnancy and birth will be nothing compared to the infinite anguish born by our Lord, but only the fact that it points me to him, that in every step of this process, from headaches to nausea to labor, I can reflect on the things Christ endured to make me new. Not only that, but in the moments that I start to think “I can’t do this” (I’m sure that thought will come in labor if not before), I can throw myself upon the one who identifies in every way with my struggles, and in fact knows them far more profoundly than I. It is truly wonderful to have a God and savior who sympathizes in every way with our weaknesses.