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Archive for March, 2014

O taste and see

 

There are very few people who can claim not to love the way a baby’s skin smells… or who have never wanted to “eat up” a baby, round cheeks and all. And no, I am not referring to Jonathan Swift’s famous proposal to solve the “Irish problem”. It’s just that impulse one gets when holding a clean, fat baby; maybe the way to the heart really is through the stomach, or maybe our gluttonous instincts associate love with eating.

I did not honestly think I would have this opportunity again; I did not think there would be baby’s cheeks, round or otherwise, or the smell of Johnson’s baby lotion in my immediate experience. I did not expect to ever have that ecstatic burst of love that just wants to “eat up” a baby. And I am being serially dumbfounded as I watch this incredibly, amazingly healthy child. It’s quite a shock, and I haven’t yet readjusted my ideas and assumptions.

It is a tremendous blessing, and a tremendous grace. I do not know why God chose to give us this great joy; it is not, as the pediatrician insisted, something we have deserved. Nor is it something we have achieved, by dint of following all the appropriate recommendations (though I grant you, there really should be some sort of reward for following the diabetes diet in pregnancy.) It is truly just God’s love, His grace, His will.

But. There is one thing I do know. I know that God is good, not because He gives us the desires of our hearts (and sometimes much more.) He is good, because He is God. It is not only in the feast of rejoicing that we can “taste” His goodness. It is also in the cup of sorrow.

God is good. And He has blessed us literally to overflowing in the last year. And we are amazed and grateful and humbled by all that He has done. But it is not ingratitude when I say that in some ways, I have seen God’s goodness more clearly, more immediately, when the world around might have assumed we were cursed. When our hearts were wrung dry of tears, it was not the promise that joy comes in the morning, but the knowledge and the confidence that God was with us that was a comfort, a hope, and an irrefutable proof that God IS good. I know that God is good now, when each day brings another evidence of His abundant care, and His gentleness as a father, because I knew God’s goodness when cares, and trials, and sorrow seemed to pile up higher and wider than we could reach.

Our pastor was talking about vegetables in church the other day- you may not like them, but you have to eat them because they’re good for you. If we didn’t eat vegetables, would we still eat cake? Would we be able to appreciate the flavours of other foods if we hadn’t learned to appreciate vegetables? Most of us feel better fed and more at ease with our stomachs on vegetables than on cake. If there were no vegetable tastes, wouldn’t the sweets soon become much of a muchness- something we liked and enjoyed in the same way as a sunny day in Arizona?

I am not trying to say that God allows sorrow so that we can appreciate joy; that would be rather twisted. What I want to say, to testify, is that God’s faithfulness is in sorrow as much as in joy. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We are the ones who waver and change with the weather. God is all-present, and He is good; He is good and present in sorrow, as well as in joy. And in rejoicing and enjoying in the blessings of joy that He is currently heaping on our heads, I do not want to forget or deny the blessings of sorrow that He has already given. God is good. He is present. Ultimately, He IS.

I do not want to store up blessings against a future drought, as Ruth Bell Graham suggested in a poem, because it is a faithless exercise. God is not going anywhere. I may wander and falter and fall away, but He is eternal. He is here, whatever may betide. And He is good.

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