The Upper Room devotional reflection for Saturday, July 30, 2022 comes to us from Ivan W. Nicholson of Minnesota
57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. 59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, "No! He is to be called John." 61 They said to her, "There is no one among your relatives who has that name." 62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John." 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. 66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, "What then is this child going to be?" For the Lord's hand was with him. Luke 1:57-66 NIV
One day my daughter-in-law asked me to share my son’s birth story. In her Native American tradition, birth stories carry particular importance. She knew her own birth story and those of their two daughters, but not her husband’s. I realized that I had never told my son this story.
On a fall evening, my wife and I went to the hospital anticipating the arrival of our first child one month early. The next morning, under a clear sky, my wife went into labor. She was sedated, but I was present. Soon after delivery, my wife began hemorrhaging. She never regained consciousness, and she passed away six hours later.
The first person to come to the hospital was our pastor, David. Then came my best friend, David, and his wife, along with my oldest brother, John. As my wife and I had not chosen baby names, John David seemed appropriate. John means “God is gracious” or “gracious gift of God,” and David means “beloved.” I know God was present at John’s birth and grieved at the death of his mother. God surrounded my son with love that day and has continued to love and watch over him. My son now knows that in him God gave the world a beautiful gift.
I cannot imagine Ivan W. Nicholson’s incredibly confusing emotions on the evening when his son was born – horrible grief at his wife’s death and profound joy at the birth of his son. It seems to me that his ability to see God at work, even in those mixed emotions, demonstrates amazing faith. The Native American tradition of sharing birth stories strikes me as a beautiful way to celebrate each one’s life. I realize that I don’t know my own birth story, and there is no one still alive who was there. And even though they aren’t particularly remarkable, I haven’t shared my own sons’ birth stories with them, and I plan to find opportunities to do that. Do you know your own birth story? Do you have stories of birth or other important life experiences that others might appreciate hearing?
God, help us to love and trust you even when our situation causes us to question our relationship with you. In the name of Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer. Amen.
--Ivan W. Nicholson
Thought for the Day:
Even when I struggle to comprehend God’s love and presence, God is still there.