Two years after losing our daughter Ruth I discovered I was pregnant with our sixth child. After such a stunning heartbreak, I was sure those nine months would end in disaster. Each and every time I went in for a check-up, I was certain there’d be no small heartbeat echoing mine, no squirming baby on the ultrasound monitor. Yet one year ago this June, we welcomed our fourth son.
It took most of our first month home with Ezra to fully believe he would stay. This past week as we prepared to celebrate his birthday, I found myself snapping at my family. After the bewildering horror of losing Ruth on our son Asher’s first birthday, I was fraught with anxiety over Ezra’s.
To keep myself from ruining this day, I pulled out a swatch of fabric my husband, Dana, brought back from one of his recent trips delivering wheelchairs to Uganda.
Not being a skilled sewer, I headed to the fabric store to pick a pattern that didn’t require a button or zipper. Never mind that anything with an elastic waist shouldn’t be worn by anyone over twelve, all weekend I pinned and cut and stitched — desperately hoping that what I was committing myself to would turn out well.
I put down my scissors and thread just long enough to cook hot dogs and celebrate Ezra’s birthday with friends on Saturday night.
As soon as the cake was cut and the guests hugged goodbye, I picked up my fabric and sewed on into the night and early Sunday morning.
Of all things in life, sewing offers among the lowest guarantees. Those women on the front of a pattern would look good in a garbage bag. That’s how fabric stores get optimistic novices like me to buy them. Knowing this, I expected the worst while praying for the best.
Just in time for church, I had this.
I wore that work of faith right into the sanctuary. Lydia wore the matching skirt I sewed her too — one wrong-side-out seam hidden under the saving grace of lace. And together — each of us wearing something from Uganda to include Ruth — our family dedicated Ezra to the Lord, a tradition that began in Old Testament times with parents bringing children to the Temple.
That it happened to be Ezra’s actual birthday was somewhat of a coincidence, but it was perfect. So was the Matt Redman song to which we worshiped.
Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name
Whether raising a child, waiting to deliver one, or simply sewing a dress, we aren’t guaranteed how our efforts will turn out. But we do choose how we respond to the outcomes God allows.
As this song filled the church, I held little Ezra — knowing I have no guarantees with him either. Together with with our congregation I sang, “You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, ‘Lord blessed be your name.'”
In those words, I find the ultimate guarantee — that no part of life is random. Whether celebrating a birth or grieving a loss, God is in control. With him all will be well. So if you are struggling with loss or insecurity and looking for guarantees, I pray you will find the strength to proclaim these words of Scripture with me,
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,” Job 1:21.