We brought him home from the hospital, tiny and brand new. Our firstborn son, all 8 pounds of him, was wrapped in blankets and a wonder to us both. We learned that first night home how little we really knew. We were brand new parents with a lot to learn.
Before the birth, we read the books and had the talks and made the plans. But now, he was real and small and needed us in ways we struggled to understand. That first night, as we settled in for bed, it began. Just as we dozed off, our son began to cry. And cry. And cry some more.
Bleary-eyed, we rose to meet that need. Back and forth between my husband and I. We took turns attending to the needs of our helpless newborn. I nursed him. He changed him. We held him. We rocked him. We walked with him. We tried it all. Yet still our precious baby cried on.
Around 3:00 a.m., my husband and I sat in the middle of our queen-sized bed, staring at this red-faced newborn laying on the comforter before us. Our heads pounding. Our hearts breaking. Our baby crying. We were exhausted and feeling helpless to quiet our baby.
What are we to do? In the middle of the night when your body screams for rest, it is hard to stay calm and clear. But the crying is a response to something your little one needs. It may sound angry. It may feel defiant. But it is a request, an expression, an outlet. Crying is the baby's only way to communicate their frustration. In the midst of the crying, parents need to breathe deeply and to try to relax. It is a time to remember how helpless we too are and a time for us to ask for help.
Breathing deeply, I picked up my son. Rocking back and forth, I spoke to him quietly and calmly. His daddy reached up and touched his tiny head. Silently I prayed, “Lord, help us. Help us help him. Give us peace.” And I rocked and rocked until he fell asleep. God cares for us and our children--we all belong to him. Babies cry. Sometimes the reason is obvious and sometimes parents are mystified by the myriad of maladies that can plague a new body. And it is frustrating and difficult and maddening and heart-breaking to watch someone you love suffer. God is present in every challenge eager to hear our prayers and care for us.
All those many years ago, as I rocked my baby and prayed to God, I had no idea what to do. In my desperation for sleep and quiet, I went to the one who quiets me. It was not a perfect prayer; it was a cry of my own in the dark of the night. If my baby could not stop screaming, could I be calm enough to care for him? My heart had cried out asking the Lord Jesus give us peace. Jesus said to his disciples in John 14:27:
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."
Our hearts don't need to be troubled when we have Jesus as our savior. There is no need so small, no situation so ordinary, that God cannot understand. As we embrace our babies and face long nights, the ability to approach these moments with grace is within our grasp. Call out to the One who loves you, who walks alongside you, who wants to pour peace and patience into your day. He will meet you where you are and give you what you need when you draw near to Him. Even in the darkest night.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Rev. Deb Koster