When Paul wrote his letter to the Romans he was pleading with them to stay steadfast in their faith. At the time, the church in Rome was facing increasing persecution. Many had lost jobs, possessions, homes, family, freedom, and even some had lost their lives. The universality of Paul’s words has helped centuries of followers to remain steadfast in faith. In chapter five he tells us a practical and applicable reward of our faith is that it gives us HOPE. And even today I often find myself leaning on these words:
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5
Hold up… we are supposed to rejoice in our sufferings!? Really, God!?
I’m convicted. I haven’t done much rejoicing about the fact that there’s an empty crib in our bedroom.
It was almost 2 years to this very day that we learned (through routine ultrasound) that our growing baby would likely not spend much Earthly time outside of the womb, if at all. Our daughter got a lifespan of four days. Only a few minutes of that life were spent in her crib. The majority of her too-quick life was spent folded into the love of her Mommy and Daddy’s arms.
Almost a year after we learned of our daughter’s fatal diagnosis, we got a springtime blessing – a call from the adoption agency that we had been matched! A baby boy was to be born soon! But our Good Friday appointment to meet the birthmom was abruptly cancelled when she had to be admitted to the hospital. On Saturday that little baby boy was born, for lack of better word or knowledge, as “a vegetable.” So on Easter Sunday, the call came in telling us to not make the drive to the hospital. The baby would not be coming home to us, his anticipating family. He would never rest on the freshly laundered sheets of the crib in our room. I was so mad at God, on Easter Sunday, of all days.
It stays there. That empty crib. And I face it daily. It’s a reminder that I’m not giving up. But hope is hard, oh so hard. Sometimes, I question that hope. Is the empty crib a reminder of bold hope, or a form of emotional torture? Sometimes, bearing hope does feel like torture, doesn’t it? The enemy preys on our agony and impatience with a taunting temptation to pull us towards hopelessness. At times, giving up can seem like the only reliable relief.
I wonder what your “empty crib” is. What is the burning hope of your heart?
I confess, on occasion I feel ashamed of my empty crib. I close the door to our room when we have guests. Surely, they must think it’s weird to have it there when our other kids are ages seven and nearly four. There’s no baby currently living under our roof. But, I remember, as Paul directed in the book of Romans, I am not to be ashamed.
Thankfully, there is a Creator that knows my hope for a growing family. In fact, He put it there, on fire in my heart. Let us rejoice for our Hope. Hope, if we hold onto it, will get us there. And bonus: having it means we’ve already got some endurance and character too! Your hope is justified.
If Jesus met me there, next to that empty crib, I wonder… would He stand and grieve? Would He weep about the void or would He rejoice, because He knows the plans the Father has to fill it?