Her name is not Eliana, but my second daughter’s existence carries the meaning of Eliana to me. “God has answered my prayer.”
I’m this proud person who loves to think I don’t doubt God. I like to think that I learned to trust God years ago and have never swerved from that trust. But in the middle of this firmly rooted jargon and head knowledge, I occasionally find myself like Eve, reaching out for that shiny piece of fruit. I find myself like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, forgetful of that giant salvation act from slavery in Egypt. I forget that God has given manna, the ordinary everyday provision of my basic needs, without fail. I forget that, here and there, I am given quail instead of manna, delicacies that I don’t need, but want, because He delights in giving good things to His children. I’m the apostles cloistered away in an upper room, fearful that God won’t remember to take care of me as He promised. I doubt God’s goodness.
And then, God swoops in, reminding me that he overlooks no detail. No hope of my heart is unknown to Him. As a parent with a child, He does not just care that I am part of His family, He delights in giving good to me.
James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
I was an only child. There was nothing wrong with being an only child. It had, in fact, several advantages over having siblings and I had a great childhood. It was the perfect path for me. But from the time I was a child, I determined that if I ever did have children, I would find a way to have at least two. I knew God could have different plans, but I pushed that to the back of my mind.
My oldest daughter was born eight weeks early at 3 lbs, 6 oz. I had a rapid onset of severe preeclampsia, which crossed over to HELLP Syndrome
syndrome. The doctors told me there was a 50% chance it could happen again.
I tried not to think about the possibility that I might have an only child. I focused on adjusting to life with a baby. I watched God’s faithfulness to us through difficult circumstances and rejoiced. I did not want to risk my life or the life of another baby irresponsibly. I wanted a second child, but I feared this could be God’s hard way of teaching me to be content.
Why I ever try to read God’s mind is beyond me, because I’m usually wrong. Two years later, I was completely surprised, excited, and terrified when I found out I was having another baby. I worried about having another preemie, an earlier, not as healthy baby. I held my breath from 6 weeks to the 32 week mark, the point when my older daughter had been born. I worried something would go wrong with this birth, with this baby’s health.
What I had to learn, again, is that God doesn’t sadistically laugh at us from Heaven as He puppeteers our lives. He wants to make us happy- like we want to make our own children happy. He sometimes uses dark providences to draw His beloved children to Him, to help us depend on Him. Suffering exists because of the Fall. But He came to redeem and give life. The lie that God does not want us to be happy has been craftily used for generations to play out the enmity between God and Satan.
God hears us when we pray- and when we do not. God knows the desires of our hearts. He created and loves us and knows us better than we know our own selves or our own children. The night before I was full term (37 weeks), I sat in the hospital ER and my tests showed hints of preeclampsia surfacing. That night, my healthy beautiful second baby girl was born at 5 lbs, 12 oz. No major complications occurred; there was no time spent in NICU rooms.
We forget something in our worrying and stewing and chasing after dreams. A Father who would sacrifice His son in an intricate redemption plan – to rescue our lives and souls- cannot possibly have our demise in His heart. There is only goodness and love in the Father’s heart.
God is not a magic genie, granting our wishes as we squint and rub a lantern. But, God hears us, just as I hear my children speak. Just as I know what they love and want. He listens and answers. He did not have to give me a second baby, but He graciously did. He knew we had more to learn from adding a person to our family. He has unique plans for each of us and every family is different. But no matter the situation, be assured that God is loving and good. He does want us to be happy, to dwell in His grace, to find our peace and fulfillment in His arms.
My Eliana child will be a year old this week. I watch her, trying to take steps on her own. I see God’s gracious character personified. I see the result of His listening and answering. I look forward to recounting to her one day soon, the goodness of God in her very own existence.
Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
* Make sure to stop by tomorrow for a great book review, author interview, and… a GIVEAWAY!