I had a baby. Her name is Martha. Martha Grace Brooks. She arrived on 7th April. (Why Martha?)
What a humbling experience it is to have a newborn baby. You hope you slightly know what you’re doing a bit more with number four, and maybe you do but still not nearly enough. And you also can’t predict what might happen with this specific baby. My baby got mastitis. No, I didn’t know that could happen either. Neither did the Receptionist at A&E. I had to argue my way in!
One day, around week two I think, my 6-year-old daughter asked me this: “Why are babies born as babies? Why aren’t they born, bigger, like one or six or something?”
I think the question behind that question is, “Why does it have to be so bloomin’ hard? So much crying from baby and mum, so little sleep, so many dirty nappies!”
What would you have said? I was caught off guard and in my semi-conscious state said something about it being good for us to be humbled as parents, and also that we don’t always know why God makes things the way he does, but he is wise and we are not. Not the best answer but I think it was at least true, so could have been worse.
But I’ve been thinking about it a bit more, and I suppose there are several reasons why the Lord created us to be babies first. And we know that he glorifies himself in creation: when we look at his world, it shows us what he is like (see for example, Romans 1:18-20). So what can I learn about the Lord from my newborn baby?
Well one thing I have learnt is that in some ways my relationship with my child is a picture of God the Father’s relationship with me, his adopted child. As I look at her in her vulnerable state, relying on me for everything, and really giving nothing back in return (she isn’t even smiling yet), I can remember that I’m in a similar position (although more extreme) before my Heavenly Father:
My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore. (Psalm 131)
As my baby trusts me, I can learn to trust my Father in heaven.
New parents often talk about the extreme emotions they feel for their newborn child, and how surprising it can seem that they are capable of such passionate feelings of love and protection for a little bundle of life. When I feel like that, I can remember that this is just a mere picture of the Lord’s feelings for his people. Look at how he spoke to his people through the prophet Isaiah:
As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” Isaiah 66:13
The Lord in his mercy is using the picture of motherhood to explain to his people how tender his loving kindness is. And of course, his love is perfect, unlike the selfish, tired and grumpy version I offer to my own children.
I’m sure there are many more wonderful lessons about God which can be seen through nursing a newborn, but I am very tired and can’t go into them right now. If I go on any longer, I am bound to say something heretical by mistake. I also should be doing some housework and/or attending to my two year old, who is instead watching Bing.
So I will leave you once again with the words of that great Australian theologian of our time, Colin Buchanan:
“(One two buckle my shoe)
God loves her children like the chookie loves her chickies,
The mother hen will gather them underneath her wing.”
(See also Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34)
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