It’s easy to celebrate the birth of a healthy baby to a committed Christian couple. Don’t we wish all births were this kind? But these days many babies come to us in other ways. These less-than-ideal births often leave Christians, even more than unbelievers, at a loss for words as well as actions.
When a pregnancy is the result of immorality Scripture is clear on some situations. We must respond to repentant Christians with full forgiveness. We must reach out to unbelievers with the news of salvation. We must separate from immoral people who claim to be believers but are clearly not repentant and persist in their sin. But many people don’t fit into our neat categories. For one thing, we can’t see their hearts. We can’t be sure, sometimes, if they are truly saved or if they are truly repentant.
Then there are births that have less-than-ideal circumstances, even though they are not the result of immorality. Perhaps the baby is unhealthy or the timing of the child comes at a particularly hard time.
Not every birth is celebrated. Some mothers we honor. Other mothers we hide. Some mothers live with a lifetime of heartbreak and regret. We want to reach out to them. We applaud their decision not to abort, but we’re not exactly sure what to do with them. On one hand we don’t want to condone sin. On the other hand we want to show compassion. We try to think of what to say to them, and anything sounds awkward, so we might just pass them by.
My heart breaks for these hidden mothers who enter our churches and don’t quite fit into the family mode. This I know: they need our friendship and love more than the classic Christian family types. When we don’t know how to reach out to them, we need to ask the Lord to show us the way and then reach out to them anyway.
Then we have the babies. Sometimes it’s hard to rejoice when they are born. They have a way of complicating life. Some babies are conceived by a Christian couple who want a baby in the perfect will of God. Some conceptions don’t involve immorality, but surprise us and change our plans. Others are conceived in a situation which is contrary to God’s will, but God allows the conception to take place.
I believe that every baby that God allows to be conceived is precious in his sight. He covers each baby in its mother’s womb. He knits it together, plans its looks, abilities, and personality. He fashions its days before it is born. He loves that little baby. And he loves the child it becomes, even when it complicates our lives.
This week when we celebrate Mother’s Day let’s honor those godly Christian mothers who sacrificed to raise us to become women of God. But let’s not forget those hidden women who don’t quite fit the ideal mother situation. We need to love and encourage them to become godly Christian mothers. We need to celebrate their children too.
Women in ministry don’t have all the answers. In difficult situations we may want to do the right thing, but be confused about what that right thing is. Sometimes we don’t know how to reach out to people, but we just have to prayerfully move ahead with whatever awkward attempt comes to mind. We try something, see how that works, adjust, try again. We have to move forward, because others look to us to know how to treat people and we must model Christ-like behaviour.
For those of you who plan baby showers, I’ve just added a baby shower game that comes from that remarkable chapter on childbirth, Psalm 139. Baby Shower Word Search–Psalm 139