My friend Atong gave birth two weeks ago. It was a first for me on many levels, it was my first experience at the local hospital, and my first time being present during a birth (besides my own of course). This post will be brief because it is not my story to tell (it is my sweet friends) but I shall share my side of it, my piece in this puzzle of life.
My teammate arrived on my doorstep Wed morning to tell me my closest friend here (and our langauge helper) was in probable labor at the local hospital one and a half months early. Our teammate, and nurse Claire communicated the situation and Nyadeng told me no need to rush over just continue on as normal and pray. After I said goodbye and shut the door J and I both looked at each other and I knew the right choice for me was to go. I have never been to the hospital but set out with my water and bag through the muddy streets. When I arrived in the room two things were evident, the baby was coming that day and something was wrong. I don’t always have premonitions but I have to say I really did that day.
I found myself at the head of the delivery bed, wiping sweat from her brow when he was born. Suddenly I moved from being in a position where I was quite culturally awkward to knowing exactly what to do. Grief does not know cultural bounds it jumps over them somehow and unites us in our pain.
You may not know this about me but my entrance into motherhood, as most mothers are, was marked with the vivid image of my daughter. Marylou came into the world without a sound, the only noise that day was the quiet cries of my husband as they handed him his firstborn, without breath, without cries because she was already in the arms of God.
My friend’s entrance into motherhood was strikingly similar. The sound of hospital instruments clanked against cement walls and there was not a sound. The doctors quickly worked and she asked me why he didn’t cry. I waited hoping for someone to speak, no one did. Finally I gripped her hand and found enough Arabic to tell her that she had given birth to a boy, a beautiful boy, but that he was not going to cry because he was already with God.
The doctors quietly stitched and cleaned, my friend cried and I caught glimpses of a very quiet crowd waiting outside. I knew what to do. I cleaned that precious baby, I dug through bags and found a blanket, I wiped his face and his hands. I took my camera and got pictures. I held him so as mom came into consciousness her image would be of her baby being loved and not lying on a table. I handed him to mom and Grandma. I cried. I listened to grief that was familiar, I cried some more. I stayed in the room and just was.
Pain and grief is such a hard thing, I have to confess to still feeling drained from emotions that day conjured in me but one thing I know to be true, the grace and mercy of our God is that he is in the process of redemption. Part of the redemption of my grief is knowing how to comfort those that also mourn. To know what to say, what to do, and how to cry. To look into the eyes of my friend and utter, “Ana Badiff (I know)” and to know the depth of the pain and also know the depth of comfort God can bring. To cry freely and rest in the arms of the comforter. To know that God is, even in pain.
Redemption doesn’t erase the pain, it doesn’t make it less painful, it does just what it promises, it redeems it. And I can think of no better use for my pain then to be redeemed for God’s glory. What tender grace is given to us that He is the redeemer that He can take pain and sorrow and use it for His glory, His purposes, to provide comfort and to give us knowledge. That we can know not only the depths of pain and sorrow but the depth of comfort that God can provide, the way He will meet, minister to and heal those who suffer.
My friend gave birth to a son a few weeks ago, and God is in the process of redeeming her life’s sorrows for His glory as I stand back and watch I am amazed at the God of comfort that we serve. The God who redeems for His glory even our deepest pain a God who brings comfort and hope to His people.
We seek to empower our children, our teammates and our Sudanese friends to love and know more of who God is through acts of loving service and biblical teaching.