Robin's Nest: A Reflection

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About 25 years ago I went on my first trip to Jamaica. I went with my dad and one or two others through a ministry called Project Increase which seeks to bring the gospel to the people of Jamaica. We spent our time leading a Vacation Bible School program for kids who lived in a rural area out in the bush. Over the next few years I would return to the island three additional times for the same purposes.

One of those latter trips was with a woman named Michelle Robinette, who like me, first experienced Jamaica on a short-term missions trip. Michelle’s experience was different from mine, however, as she was deeply impacted by the poverty that exists in the country - especially among children, many of whom simply lived on the streets. Michelle followed the call of God and opened a children’s home on the island, conveniently named “Robin’s Nest” in relation to her last name. I was privileged to accompany Michelle to the island when she made her permanent transition there.

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20 years later, and Robin’s Nest has distinguished itself as the most reputable children’s home on the island of Jamaica, although Michelle has since retired and handed over the reins to other directors. Riverview has been in partnership with Robin’s Nest ever since its inception, and we decided it was time to go back to Robin’s Nest and get a taste for the ministry that happens there. I was part of a 15-person team who went for a total of seven days just a couple of weeks ago. It was a tremendous opportunity and privilege to see all that God is doing on one particular mountaintop on which is located a campus that 26 children call “home.”

The purpose of our trip was to assist with the ministry of the Robin’s Nest Children’s Home in whatever ways we could, through physical labor, interacting with kids and assisting with childcare, and whatever else would come up. Our team accomplished these goals, and much more, during the week we were there. But I had some other questions I wanted answered; other reasons for traveling to Jamaica

1. What happens at Robin’s Nest? Our Missions Committee at Riverview is very active in staying in touch with missionaries that we support. Oftentimes this is accomplished through visiting with missionaries when they are home on furlough or for a home assignment. It’s common at Riverview to have missionaries with us, telling us about the gospel work they are doing in other parts of the world. But Robin’s Nest is a bit different: there are no regular missionaries associated with Robin’s Nest. Rather, there are people who have volunteered to serve as directors of the children’s home for a period of time. This makes face to face communication somewhat challenging, as the directors of the home aren’t necessarily missionaries that we have any formal relationship with. Needless to say, although we partner with Robin’s Nest as a church, sometimes we don’t know too much about what is going on down there.

This trip afforded me and the rest of our team a first hand experience of the ministry that takes place there, and we were very encouraged by what we saw. Robin’s Nest is home to 26 Jamaican children who are constantly cared for, ministered to, and discipled by the two American directors and the 30+ Jamaican staff members. These 26 children, who at one point in their lives, were abandoned for whatever reason by their natural parents, are constantly taught and reminded that they have been created in their Father’s image, that they are valuable, loved, and cared for. Our team got to have just the smallest (about one week) opportunity to reaffirm this message to these kids. And the children receive an education (including Christian education) that they would most likely otherwise be without, a home to live in, and people who love and care for them on a daily basis.

Perhaps what impressed me most about Robin’s Nest is the organization and structure that exists there for the ministry to these kids and the staff members to be efficient and effective. The directors, Janet and Kevin Krusmark, have drawn upon their lifetimes of business and professional experience to make Robin’s Nest an example of efficiency and excellence in childcare, ministry, and management, not to mention providing employment opportunities for more than 30 local Jamaicans. Janet and Kevin serve as missionaries in their own right. They have volunteered their time and energies to serve the Nest in their retirement years, and have put their years of management, business, and Christian living experience to work efficiently. The facilities and campus in general are clean, well organized, and arranged to encourage maximum efficiency when caring for the daily needs of 26 children, aged 2-14.

After having observed how Robin’s Nest functions, I am convinced that it is this attention to detail that makes Robin’s Nest such a “successful” children’s home, and why it is the highest rated children’s home on the island of Jamaica. Having personally seen the condition of other children’s homes on previous trips to the island, I am thrilled that our church has partnered with Robin’s Nest to provide such high quality and God-centered care to these children and to the Jamaicans employed by the Nest.

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2. A second question I had before going on this trip was about the nature of short-term missions trips in general. Many people in the Western world have (rightly) questioned the effectiveness of short-term missions: is it really cost effective? Does any lasting change exist once a team has left? Would it be better to send the money spent on short-term missions trips to indigenous Christians so they could do the ministry rather than flying in Americans for significant money to do the same work? I think these are important questions, and ones that Christians should spend time thinking about. I wanted to see for myself if it was “worth it” for our team (and our church) to spend a significant amount of money to send 15 of us to Jamaica to work at Robin’s Nest.

To be honest, the first couple of days of work at the Nest didn’t do much to encourage me that it was “worth it.” We did mostly menial tasks that presumably could have been done by anyone, let alone Americans who had flown more than 2000 miles to do them. But as the week went on it became apparent that our team wasn’t there to perform some task that only we could do, but rather to support the overall work of the Nest in any way we could. More on this in a minute.

Also, a large part of our time at the Nest was dedicated to interacting with the children there and supporting the staff members through our presence. While these interactions were special and fun, it was clear that any relationships we made with the kids most likely wouldn’t be lasting. After all, we would be leaving in just a few days, with no indication of when or if we would ever return. Could the brief times we spent with these kids in just a few days really be that impactful? I wasn’t so sure.

Then, on the last night of our stay at Robin’s Nest, we had a debriefing meeting with Janet and Kevin, Robin’s Nest directors. What they told our team during that meeting completely changed my outlook and answer to this question, at least as it concerns our church’s mission trip to Robin’s Nest.

Janet and Kevin shared with us that we were but one of 32 short-term missions teams who either had been or would be at Robin’s Nest in 2019. My first reaction to this news was that our physical labors and relational interactions were an even smaller drop in the bucket than I had previously thought. But then Kevin framed our time at the Nest like this: as children, most of us have parents who love us and care for us, and they demonstrate their love and care for us by talking to us, playing with us, feeding us, clothing us, sheltering us, and so on. The same is not true for most, if not all, of the children at Robin’s Nest. Although we were just one of 32 teams during 2019, we were able to fill a vital seven days of telling these kids that they are loved, cared for, and valued by God and us. We were able to help with their care, talk to them, provide for them, and so on. If we weren’t there, those seven days would be devoid of that message being poured into those kids’ minds and hearts. It was important for us to be there; it was important for us to serve them; it was important for us to tell those kids that they are loved and valuable. And not only that, but they are so loved that we are willing to spend our hard-earned money and travel 2000 miles to tell them so!

Then, at the close of our meeting, Kevin read from Philemon 1.4-7:

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

Kevin explained that this scripture was fulfilled in our time at the Nest. Through our willingness to come to the Nest and work and love on kids, Kevin and Janet praised the Lord because of the love and faith that we had toward Jesus and for all the saints in Jamaica, certainly through our gifts and donations and partnership through the church, and also through our physical presence. They explained that their prayer for us was that the sharing of our faith on this trip would become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. They explained how they had derived much joy and comfort from our love, and that their hearts had been refreshed through us.

If this is true, and I believe that it is, then it didn’t matter if our team did menial tasks that were “beneath” us; it didn’t matter that there was some downtime when we could have been working or doing things but instead spent that time hanging out with kids; it didn’t matter that our skills weren’t utilized to their fullest potential. It became clear to me that the purpose of our trip was to give Janet and Kevin and the other staff at Robin’s Nest joy and comfort from our love, and to refresh their hearts in any way that we could. And as a result, God is glorified, and we (our team) have a fuller knowledge of all that is ours in Christ. That was the purpose of our trip.

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Earlier in the week my son James and I volunteered to paint some signs on the Nest property that are actually part of an historical marker. The signs had gotten rusty and weathered, and were clearly uncared for by whoever had erected them several years previous. Jamie and I volunteered to paint the frames the signs were in and to do some minor repairs on them to get them looking nice again. It was this kind of work that I had previously thought was menial and “beneath” me. Not to mention, one of the signs seemed to be located on a nest of fire ants that wouldn’t stop biting my ankles! Why did I fly 2000 miles to paint signs and get bit by fire ants? But Kevin’s message to us the night before we left put my sign-painting into perspective. If my painting these signs enabled the ministry of Robin’s Nest to function a little more smoothly and with a little less trepidation about all the work that needed to be done, then it was worth it. In fact, I’d paint as many signs as they had if doing so would give the people at the Nest joy and comfort in the ministry that God has for them to do.

This was the fifth overseas short-term missions trip that I’ve been on in my life, and I have a confession to make: the best day has always been the one going home. Each time I have returned home, I have longed for nothing more than sleeping in my own bed. Put simply, I am not an overseas missionary (at least not yet). But for now, I can encourage the hearts of those who are, and I can give them much joy and comfort by my presence and support of their ministries. This is what we did at Robin’s Nest.

A Theology of Vacations

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In the near future my wife and kids and I will join the other members of our family at a cabin on a clear Minnesota lake for a week of fun, rest, and relaxation. I can’t wait.

A yearly week at a cabin is a tradition our family has held for about a decade now, and it is always one of the best weeks of the year. It’s one that we look forward to with longing and anticipation, and one that we look back on with fond memories and laughter.

But sometimes vacations are hard to take. The stress of preparing for the trip, or the extra work you have to do before the vacation, and the catch-up you have to play when you get back can sometimes seem to drain away the rejuvenation you received on vacation. But we should not let these things hinder us from taking time to enjoy our families and the earth God has created. In fact, I believe the Bible teaches that it’s a good, godly, and wise thing to take a vacation!

Created to need rest
God created us to need rest. He designed our bodies to need a recharge every 16 hours or so. And so, every night we go to sleep to rejuvenate our bodies for the coming day’s work. In fact, a full one-third of our lives (give or take) is spent resting. This is by God’s design. God knows that if left to ourselves, we would work ourselves to death, trying to get ahead, “eating the bread of anxious toil” (Psalm 127.2). It is not good for us to be at work all the time, so God ordained sleep, and he commanded us to take a regular time of rest for our own good.

But there’s more to just maintaining our health that makes resting a good idea. There’s also a spiritual reality at work. By taking the time to rest we remind ourselves that we are not God, that our work is not ultimate, and that we need him. It is not good for me to work, and work, and work, constantly trying to get ahead, because I never will. By resting, I acknowledge God’s sovereignty over my work and my dependence on him to accomplish the things that my own efforts at work can’t. If you struggle to go on vacation because you keep thinking about all the work that’s not getting done while you’re away, you need to remember that you are not God, and the world will go on without you because God is God. In fact, if you struggle to go on vacation because you are vexed by work left undone, that’s a sign that you need to go on vacation! Reorient yourself to the reality of God’s sovereign control with a week of vacation.

Jesus rested, and so should we
In Mark 6 we read about Jesus’ disciples going out on a mission trip and returning exhausted. When they get back, Jesus says to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” Jesus, perhaps more than anyone, knew what hard work was all about, and he knew the value of rest. Jesus himself would often retreat to get away from the crowds and craziness of his work, and he also invited his disciples to take time to relax and recharge. In doing so, they would be better equipped to fulfill the work that God had given them to do.

The same is true for us. We are to do all things for the glory of God, and we are to work as unto the Lord, not men. If Jesus knew the value of taking time to rest, we should learn from his example and not shun times where we can enjoy rest and relaxation, and times that will re-energize us for carrying out the work that God has given us to do.

Vacation Salvation
Rest and relaxation in this life is a fuzzy shadow of the rest that we have in Christ. This is the purpose of God’s commanding a Sabbath day of rest. It operates as a foreshadowing of the rest that we will have in Christ at our ultimate salvation. We do not have to work to please God, because Christ has pleased him on our behalf; we no longer work to offer sacrifices and atone for sin, because Christ became the perfect sacrifice and, once offered, he rested from his work. Now those in Christ rest in the security of their salvation.

This, the Bible teaches, is the spiritual lesson that we are to learn by observing a Sabbath day in our regular work-week. By resting from our labors, we are reminded that Christ’s work is finished and complete. It cannot be added to, nor should we try to do so. Jesus’ last words on the cross were “It is finished,” referring to his work as a perfect sacrifice for all who would believe. Christians rest in that finished work, and a weekly Sabbath reminds us of that spiritual reality.

I believe that a good vacation can remind us of that same truth. We can relax and enjoy times of rest because our spiritual work has been completed. We need not spend our time obsessing over how we can please God and stave off his wrath, because that work is already done. Imagine if you had to work to maintain your standing in God’s good graces. I’m sure you wouldn’t be spending any of that time at the lake! But those in Christ do not work to maintain their standing with God, so we can rest. Let a good vacation remind you of the rest you have in Christ.

A little slice of Heaven
One of the reasons we so enjoy our yearly cabin retreat is not just that we get to enjoy one another as a family, but we also get to enjoy God’s creation in a unique way that is different from any other experience we have all year. Our week at the cabin is filled with swimming, fishing, cookouts, late nights outside around the campfire, tubing behind the boat, knee-boarding, failed attempts at water skiing, boating, kayaking, frog-catching, sitting under the sun, wildlife watching, and a whole host of other activities that are designed for us to delight in the things God has made.

As much as we enjoy God’s creation now, it will pale in comparison to how we enjoy the new heavens and new earth that God will one day create. When this world passes away, God will create a new one that will be unaffected by sin and death (an ever-present reality when playing on the water with little ones who still need life jackets to protect their safety). We cannot even conceive of the glories of this new world that God will create, let alone our delight in it.

While on vacation at the cabin, enjoying family and creation, we often ask, “Can it get any better than this?” The answer is, “Yes, it can. And it will!” As much as we delight in God’s creation now, we will delight in it all the more when it is remade. Allow the “little slice of heaven” of your vacation time to fill you with a longing for the consummation of God’s creation, and for the new heavens and the new earth that will soon be a reality.

What About Those Who Have Never Heard?

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Many years ago our church partnered with Steve and Carol Jean Gallagher and sent them to Papua New Guinea among the Bariai people in order to translate the Bible into their language. As of this writing, their translation project has been completed and the Bariai people now have the scriptures in their own language and can read the gospel for themselves and know God through his revealed word.

But that begs a question: what about all the Bariai people who lived and died before the scriptures existed in their language? Will they be held accountable on judgement day simply because they were unfortunate to live during a time when there was no Christian influence in their culture and language? Will they be condemned to hell because they did not have the Bible and the story of Jesus and the gospel made available to them?

Many people have wondered what God will do with those who have never heard of Jesus. Certainly, we think, God cannot be so capricious as to punish people for not believing in a God they’ve never heard of. This question has also confounded seekers who have considered the Christian faith and have found it wanting: “If Jesus is the standard of salvation,” they think, “then I would not believe in a God who would send people to hell simply because they’ve never heard of Jesus. To do so would be unjust.”

What does God do with people who have never heard of Jesus? Will they be condemned to hell? And is it wrong for God to do so? Thankfully, the Bible helps us think about and answer this difficult question.

First, we need to be clear about what it is that condemns a person to hell. What condemns a person to hell is not whether or not he has heard about Jesus, but whether or not he has sinned. So if those in the darkest jungles on the earth do go to hell, it will not be because they have never heard about Jesus, but because they have sinned against a holy God. It is our sin that separates us from God, and this truth is apparent to all people - even to those who have never read one word of scripture. Romans 1 says that all people are aware of God’s existence through the things that have been made. In other words, creation reveals that their is a Creator. This is a self-evident truth that can be understood by the wealthy businessman in the highest skyscraper, and by the lowliest tribe member in a far-away jungle. We all know that God exists, and if we know that he exists then we also know that he demands something of us.

But how can we know what he demands of us without the Bible? Romans 2 tells us that we can know that God demands righteousness from us (even if we don’t have a Bible) because God has given us a conscience. In other words, we know that there is a universal right and wrong because God’s law has been written upon our hearts, no matter who we are or where we live. The commonality of all human beings across time and across the face of the earth has been that we all know in our hearts that God exists, and we know the difference between right and wrong. And our conscience testifies to us that we are sinful, that we have done wrong. So it is not the lack of hearing the gospel that condemns a person to hell, but his knowledge of God and willful sin against the law that God has written upon his heart.

But this does not mean that those who live apart from the influence of the Bible and the good news of Jesus are automatically damned to hell. The Bible teaches us that God uses a sliding scale in his judgment of people (see Luke 10.13-15 and 12.41-48). This means that we will be held accountable for the amount of truth that we have been exposed to. For those of us in the West, and especially in the United States, we have been exposed to much of the truth of God. We have instant access to scripture, preaching, churches, freedom of religion, and so on. There is absolutely no reason why we should not be able to hear and respond to the truth of God, and we will each be held individually accountable by God for what we have done with the truth that he has revealed to us.

In other parts of the world, however, there is considerably less access to the truth of God. Some countries are closed off to religious freedom and do not allow people to have Bibles or to profess faith in Christ without dire consequences. Other countries, such as numerous current people-groups in Papua New Guinea, are so remote that the name of Jesus has never been claimed or taught to its people. Scripture teaches that these people will be held to a lower degree of responsibility because of their lack of knowledge of the truth. Does this mean that they will escape judgment for their lack of knowledge? We can’t know for sure, but we do know that God will judge them more leniently than those in developed nations where the truth of God is freely accessible to all.

Finally, we know that whatever God does will ultimately be what is right and just. God is perfectly just and inherently merciful. It would be contrary to his nature to unjustly condemn people. We may not be able to know precisely what happens to people who have never been exposed to the truth of God, but based on what we know about God from the Bible, we can be confident that whatever God does will be right and fair. He will not unjustly condemn anyone. And he is more than willing and happy to overflow with mercy.

For instance, if there is someone who has never heard the name of Jesus, yet acknowledges God’s existence (Romans 1), and who knows their sin (Romans 2) and desires to get right with God as a result, I believe that God is merciful and he will be faithful to send a missionary to them to preach the gospel to them, or to send that seeker to a church where he or she can hear the gospel. God is not looking for reasons to condemn people - his desire is to save people (2 Peter 3.9)!

Rather than this question causing us to accuse God of injustice, it should instead cause us to question our own zeal in seeking out the salvation of the lost. We know that there are people in the world who have never heard about Jesus and who are destined to meet God on judgment day, lost in their sin. Regardless of how leniently God might judge them, our desire should be for them to come to life and blessing through the gospel of Jesus Christ. So if there are people in the world who have not heard of Jesus, we shouldn’t blame God - we should let the fate of the lost inspire our zeal to reach them with the good news of Jesus!

400 Billion Birds

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At the heart of all worry and anxiety in our lives are two lies that we are prone to believe: either God doesn’t care about me, or he does care but is powerless to do anything about it. If I am believing one or both of these lies, then I will definitely worry about the circumstances of my life.

But Jesus refutes these lies in Luke 12.22-34 by using two examples to show us that God does indeed care, and he is absolutely powerful to help his people (see also Matthew 6.25-34). These examples are God’s care for and ability to provide for birds and flowers and grass. Jesus’ argument is that, if God cares for birds and flowers, then he certainly cares even more for the crown jewel of his creation - human beings - who have been made imago dei (in the image of God).

Ultimately, Jesus says that this boils down to a faith issue. If we are overcome by worry in our lives, it is because we are believing these lies more than we are believing the promises of God to care and provide for his special creation. In fact, Jesus says that if we are overcome by worry over the details of our lives, we are people of “little faith” (Luke 12.28).

Why is this a faith issue? Think about it like this: have you ever had a pet? I’ve had several in my life time. As of this writing, in fact, there are three animals in our house living as pets. Caring for them can be draining, especially as it regards our cat, Martha. She’s getting older and has some special health concerns. Caring for her in her old age is becoming more and more difficult as time goes by. My kids also have pet rats. They’re much easier to care for, but they still need their cage cleaned on a regular basis, and need to be fed and watered - all things that seem to be difficult for my kids to remember to do! It can be challenging to care for and maintain pet animals.

Now compare the care of our pets to God’s care for his creation. Jesus says that God cares for the birds - all of ‘em. He gives them food and provides for them. How many birds is that, exactly? A quick internet search reveals that science’s best guesstimate as to the total number of birds on the planet at any given time is about four hundred billion (400,000,000,000). That’s about 53 birds for every human being alive on the planet. And God cares for each one of those birds. He provides food for them and watches over every single one. Not one bird falls from the sky without God’s notice. And God says that we are far more valuable to him than many birds (Matthew 10.29-30). In this sense, the notion that God can care for 400 billion birds, but not me, is almost insulting!

Or consider the flowers. Jesus also says that God cares for and clothes the flowers of the earth (Luke 12.27-29). It’s hard to nail down firm estimates of the number of flowers on earth, but most scientists agree there are about 250,000 different species of flowers on the planet. That’s not 250,000 flowers, but species of flowers, of which there are probably millions of each species. And God cares for every. Single. Flower. And you really think that he won’t care for you, O you of little faith?

Worry is a faith issue. We are prone to believe the lies that God doesn’t care or that he is powerless. But Jesus refutes those lies with evidence of God’s ultimate sovereignty and providence. There is no one who escapes his notice; there is no situation over which he is not powerful.

But knowing and believing these truths won’t immediately remove all worry from our lives. We will still struggle with worry, and we will still be tempted to obsess over the small details of life. The difference is that when we are believing the truth of God, we have the weapons we need to be able to battle worry. We battle worry (unbelief in the promises of God) by preaching the truth of God to ourselves. When we are prone to worry, we remind ourselves of God’s promises: that he is powerful and that he cares for us (1 Peter 5.7).

If you struggle with worry, it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure of a Christian, but it does mean that you need to learn to battle your worry using the truth of God’s promises. Also, simply believing the promises of God doesn’t mean that all of your worries and fears will simply magically disappear - they won’t. But if you’re believing the truth of God’s promises, you’ll have the tools and weapons you need to fight back against worry.

The next time you are prone to worry about the details of your life, and the next time you are tempted to believe the lie that God doesn’t care about you, or that he is powerless to do anything about your situation, just remember those 400 billion birds that God has his eye on, and remember that he’s watching over you, too.

A Mother’s Day Reflection

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Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and it was my privilege to honor the two mothers in my life: my mom, and my wife. My kids and I treated their mom to a Twins game, and my mom to pizza (and a fancy ring with the birthstones of all of her grandchildren).

This Mother’s Day has a special significance for my wife and I, as we thank God for our five children. Now, to readers who are familiar with the demographics of my immediate family, you may be questioning my counting skills, as you’re only aware of my nine year old daughter and eleven year old son. But my wife and I have three other children of which most are unaware.

When Betsy and I first considered having children, we were told by doctors that we may have some issues with fertility because of some underlying medical conditions. It was recommended that we undergo fertility testing to explore our options. But before we could even make the appointments for such tests, it was discovered that we were expecting our first child - a boy. He gave us a bit of a fright by coming six weeks early, but he went on to grow and overcome the physical challenges of being one who was early born.

Less than two years later we were blessed by God to be new parents again, this time of a daughter (who arrived right on time). We were the happy parents of two, and wanted more.

But none came. For seven years. We began to think that the warnings about fertility issues that we received early on in our marriage had come to fruition. But even in light of this suspicion, we believed (and still do) that God determines the course of these things (1 Samuel 1.6, 19), and so we trusted in him and his wisdom regarding having more children.

Then, about two years ago, my wife discovered that she was expecting again. But problems with the pregnancy quickly followed, and the child was lost early on. We grieved and mourned, as this kind of pain was fresh to us, having never experienced it before.

Last August, we were expecting again. Still somewhat fresh off the loss of our third child, we timidly went to the doctor for an ultrasound appointment where we learned that the child my wife was carrying measured at six weeks and two days gestation. We were told not to worry, as it’s not typical to be able to discern a heartbeat before seven weeks, and that we should come back in two weeks for another ultrasound. We did, and at that second ultrasound we were told that the baby measured at…six weeks and two days gestation. There had been no growth since previous checkup. This meant that the child my wife carried was not alive, and sooner or later, nature would take its course.

During the time of this second miscarriage, Betsy and I clung to the truths in the lyrics of the song “Counting Every Blessing” by Rend Collective. The pertinent lyrics are as follows:

I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Letting go and trusting when I cannot see
I am counting every blessing, counting every blessing
Show me in this season you are good to me

You were there in the valley of shadows
You were there in the depth of my sorrows
You’re my strength, my hope for tomorrow
I’ve been blessed beyond all measure

By this time, Betsy and I had two children who were with us on earth, and two who are waiting for us in heaven. Although we were saddened by the loss of those two babies, we took great comfort in the Bible’s teaching that infants who die (including those who are never born) are among God’s elect and have joined him in heaven. What a comfort it is to know that someday we will meet them and rejoice with them.

Earlier I noted that my wife and I have five children, but as yet I’ve only given an accounting for four of them. This is because the fifth is yet to be revealed, and is why this Mother’s Day has a special significance for us. Betsy is expecting yet again and is at this time more than nine weeks into the pregnancy, and so far things are looking good. Because of our fresh experiences with miscarriage, we are still trepidatious, but remain confident in the sovereign goodness of our God, and we trust his will completely, regardless of what is to come. We know that God is good, and that each of this child’s days were written in God’s book before there was yet one (Psalm 139.13-16), even if he or she never sees the light of day.

Don’t get me wrong: there is still much that we are concerned about. There are the obvious physical and biological challenges, considering our history of miscarriage. But there are other challenges, such as having older children, the least of which will be 10 years older than this one at the time of this child’s birth (!), and the prospect of being “older” parents to this child (I’ll be almost 60 when this child graduates from high school!). But again, we trust not in the metrics of man, but in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20.7), and we anticipate his sovereign goodness to us in the coming weeks and months.

So this Mother’s Day is special, because on it my wife and I remember that we are now the parents of five children, two that are a delight to us on earth, two that will be a delight to us in heaven, and one that will be a delight to us, Lord willing, sometime in early December. But this, too, is why Mother’s Day can be such a confounding and difficult holiday to celebrate. On the one hand, all of us “owe” our mothers at least some measure of gratitude, for without them we would not have life. On the other hand, motherhood is fraught with so many joys and sorrows that we need to acknowledge its complexity. We must understand Mother’s Day and motherhood in light of God’s sovereign will. This is something that Betsy and I have been trying to do ever since we got the news about potential fertility issues many years ago, and as we have gone through the ups and downs ever since. But throughout that process I think it’s safe to say that our trust has grown, and we have learned to, as the song says, count every blessing, and to let go and trust God in every season, for he is indeed good to us.