Word of the Week

Love That Groans: Day 6- Jennifer Harris Dault

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!
As when fire sets twigs ablaze
and causes water to boil,
come down to make your name known to your enemies
and cause the nations to quake before you!
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
who remember your ways.
Isaiah 64:1-5

 I imagined life would look drastically different today. Today (give or take a couple of weeks) was to be the day I would become a mother. I anticipated relating to Mary during the beginning of Advent—after all, I, too, would be “great with child.” Instead my arms and uterus are empty. My daughter, Avelyn Grace, died after 11 weeks in the womb.

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down . . .

After Avelyn, I was sent to a doctor who recommended a blood test. I tested positive for two strains of MTHFR, a blood mutation that can cause clots, blocking the way for nutrition to get to a developing child. I began a regimen of extra vitamins and baby aspirin. Assured that I was now armed against the dangers of MTHFR, we welcomed a second pregnancy. Seven weeks later, we had a scare. Our child was measuring a week behind with a heartbeat of 110 (slow for a developing child). The doctor was cautiously optimistic, suggesting that maybe our dates were wrong and the heart was newly developing. I’d come back in two weeks (the soonest the receptionist was able to schedule me), and we’d track what was happening.

Waiting. We often view Advent as an exciting time. We picture children barely able to contain their joy as they anticipate family and presents. Their joy becomes symbolic of our own hope as we wait for the coming Savior.

My wait was neither hopeful nor joyful. When a friend asked how I was doing, I responded the only way I knew how—that I was in hell. Was I carrying life or death? I went through the motions—taking my cocktail of pills, monitoring what I ate, attempting physical activity despite first trimester exhaustion—all the things that a woman is supposed to do while pregnant; but I knew that none of these actions could protect my child.

A week later, I called the doctor’s office, begging for an earlier appointment. I couldn’t go another week not knowing. I was asked to come in that day. The ultrasound confirmed what I already knew in my heart: our baby—Benjamin Charles—had not grown, and he no longer had a heartbeat.

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down . . .

As I’ve reflected on Advent, I’ve realized that those long generations waiting on the coming Messiah were not overjoyed in their anticipation—they were desperate. From those at the time of Isaiah, uprooted from home in the Babylonian exile, to those contemporaries of Mary, living under the rule of Rome, the people of God were reaching to grasp hope out of their extreme need.

Today I find myself empty. I find myself begging God to tear open the heavens again . . . surely then our pain would be healed. Surely then life would make sense. Surely then God would right all that seems so desperately wrong.

This year waiting during Advent means clinging to the hope of Immanuel—God with us. If God is with us, then God is here holding me, comforting me. God is breaking through the heavens to reach me, to reach all of us.

Let us pray:

O God who breaks through the heavens, let us see you even in grief. Strengthen our grip on hope when it threatens to fail. Be ever with us, Immanuel. Amen.

JenniferHarrisDaultJennifer Harris Dault and her husband, Allyn, live in downtown St. Louis, MO with their two cats, Sassy and Cleo. She is a member and occasional minister at St. Louis Mennonite Fellowship. She works among the Methodists as a church administrator and serves as a freelance writer, editor, and supply preacher. You can find her online at http://jenniferharrisdault.com This Advent, Jennifer hopes on behalf of those who cannot