This is not the scenario we treasured and dreamed of together
"March 2020 will be remembered for a lot of things. The great toilet roll shortage … the cancellation of the Premier League (much to my Liverpool-supporting husband, Sam’s, sorrow) … social isolation … the explosion of Zoom. But, for my little family, it will always be remembered for the birth of a wriggly baby boy called Elliot, our first child.
Elliot was born on 19th March, 4 days before the UK went into lockdown due to COVID-19. At 2 days old, he met my parents from a distance of 2m and, as I write, he still hasn’t seen his other grandparents. He has only ever been held by the medical professionals who delivered him and me and Sam. To say this is not the scenario we treasured and dreamed of together during the long wait for Elliot’s arrival is an understatement.
So we mourn the loss of precious moments with family and friends, of the comfort of practical support, and of the privilege of sharing our joy with those we love: and we are aware that our small sadness is part of a global picture of intense suffering. We also mourn the rising death tolls, the fear, and the isolation along with great swathes of people world-wide.
A couple of weeks after Elliot’s arrival brought the news that my mum was really quite unwell with symptoms that corresponded with the dreaded pandemic. While her illness played out, I struggled not to jump to worst case scenarios and think about the fact that she’d not yet been able to hold her first grandson.
Combine all this with the usual sleepless nights and wild hormones that come with new parenthood and I have to admit that I have been emotionally fragile in a way that I’ve never experienced before - I have felt sorry for myself, I have cried ugly, snotty tears, I have questioned any parenting instinct that weakly waves for my attention and I have had cravings for a trip to a café so strong that I can almost smell the hot chocolate.
And yet it is still with joy that we introduce Elliot to the world. A world that may currently feel uncertain, but a world that remains a gift from a good and great God. It is a world that is fallen, where we expect and experience brokenness, perhaps now in a more personal way than ever before for me; but there is hope and there is peace.
Easter is a time that reminds me of this and I am thankful for the timing of it this year. I may not understand why this is happening but I can trust that the God who created the universe and holds the whole of history in his hand is not surprised by it. This same God came into our broken world and not only does this mean that he understands what it is to suffer, but he endured pain, rejection and death so that I, and all those who trust in him, can be forgiven. He rose again, punching a glorious light through the darkness of death, so we can know that there is a true and real hope for the future, a future where God promises that, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21 v 4.
I have to admit that it is difficult to remember this at times, particularly in an evening when the hormones hit hard and the sun sets on another day of Elliot’s life without any human contact, but it is also true that we have so much to be thankful about. Elliot arrived safely, an absolute miracle of God’s amazing design. The NHS, under immense pressure at the moment, provided care that was compassionate and effective and the kindness of our family, church family and other friends has been overwhelming. In addition to this, my mum has recovered and we’re so thankful for the many people who prayed for her. But most importantly, when I feel at my most isolated, when my heart breaks for my little family and for the broken world we live in, when the future seems uncertain, I can know that I am not a mere accident of biology living at the whim of an impersonal and unfeeling universe but a being created by a God who loves me and who is with me even, and perhaps especially, when life is difficult."
(Abi, member of Grace Church Wakefield.)