by Danielle Mahlstedt

1 Corinthians 2:9.NIV

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—

They said it was the worst time to have a baby.

It’s 1:00 am and I’m fighting my natural body’s time clock ticking at me to go back to sleep. I yawn until I hear the “crack” of my temporomandibular joints and my eyes fill with water. I restrain from curling back into my blanket because my newborn is depending on me and is making sure I’m aware of it. Even then I think, “I wouldn’t trade good rest, anything, for this miracle lying in the sleeper next to me.”

1 week ago, I lie in a stretcher dreading the fifth minute when my next contraction creeps up and catches my breath. I cry out, literally, “Lord, help me” knowing without question He is close, He is right there with me. See, while I lay there focusing on the fact that soon my baby will be cradled up inside my warm arms, I picture myself cradled in The Lord’s. I feel His presence. He answers my call.

2 weeks ago, I’m pregnant and counting down the days until my due date.  I’m tired. I can’t tell if I’m more tired from the energy demand of carrying a full-term baby or from hearing “Covid-19” everywhere I turn. Every time I enter the Obstetrician’s office, I am met with information of a new protocol, a new hospital policy that would affect my delivery. After all, I am due during the peak of the virus in New York. There are moments I feel strong, brave, my faith soaring above every worry concerning this dreaded virus that attempts to steal the joy of this precious time meant for me and my baby. But there are also moments where the statistics flash in my mind, and I feel trapped by the unknown. “How can this virus affect me? Affect my baby?” Fear starts to entangle itself in my mind. But, I pray. And I cry. And I pray. And I worship. And I see God move mightily in my life.

Easter Sunday, in a hospital delivery room, I experience Jesus. I focus my mind, my heart, everything on My Only Hope. The Lord knows how much I need to feel His presence there and I do in such a tender way. When I enter the initial triage area, Jesus meets my pain with an encouragement on TV. There, Christian singer Chris Tomlin is singing on Fox.  The Lord brings worship music to me that gives me peace even while in physical pain. Policy prevents my husband from being next to me in the triage room however, The Lord is with me and always has been. From that moment through, little and big reminders of His presence graced my time there. And my Elianna Hope, a name I planned on prior to COVID-19, entered into my arms. During a time of crisis, the Lord gave me Hope (pun intended) and a wonderful birth experience. How amazing is He?

That is my Lord, amazing. During a time when anyone would’ve said “This is the worst time to have a baby,” The Lord made it the best time to have a baby. He gave me the best nurse, the best doctors, the best amidst the “worst” of times. He cares so deeply for His children that He intercedes on their behalf and provides favor that is divine and unimaginable. His grace and mercy have embraced me throughout my life. One day I will tell my Elianna Hope of her birth story and how The Lord sustained us and gave us the most beautiful beginning together amidst the most uncertain of times. Nothing is impossible for God and nothing is uncertain to Him.

My heart sings out with gratitude:

“Oh, it’s love so undeniable

I, I can hardly speak

Peace so unexplainable

I, I can hardly think

As you call me deeper still

As you call me deeper still

As you call me deeper still

Into love, love, love

You’re a good good father

It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are

And I’m loved by you

It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.”

“Good Good Father” – Chris Tomlin