With the birth of my first child, the heaviness of God’s sorrow over the sin and brokenness of our world came sharply into focus for me.
There was only a faint light through the window of the dark nursery, but I could still clearly see each tiny curve and chubby wrinkle of my infant daughter’s hand. I gently rocked back and forth as I held her warm little body against my chest. But, as I sat there—the perfect image of maternal contentment—I was overwhelmed by a recognition of the tender fragility of life and the tremendous magnitude of evil.
I was delighted with my daughter, and marveled at every little wonderful thing about her, but the beauty and wonder and joy and glories of life stood in heart wrenching contrast to how far short our world falls from God’s good plan.
My daughter was conceived and born into this world and even before her first cry, she had the innate expectation that she should be loved. She was delivered and laid on my chest, totally dependent but sure of the rightness that someone should be there to care for her and love her.
And we did. The first and most important lesson in life—in becoming (hopefully) a gracious, God-fearing woman of strength, dignity, beauty, and honor—was that she is infinitely valuable, that she is loved, and that she is wonderful.
So, as I was overwhelmed with the enormity of this foundational lesson for her in life and my heart was bursting with love for my daughter, I simultaneously was aware of the deep, dark, brokenness of this world, much more acutely aware than I’d ever been.
I thought of children I have known who haven’t had this lesson of their worth instilled in them, who were shoved aside, ignored, and abused. I recall horrific news stories of babies being born and thrown in toilets to die; of babies being aborted and their bodies torn apart inside the womb (that most sacred of sanctuaries, where safety and security should be paramount and guaranteed); of people found eating human flesh with the decapitated head of an infant lying on the floor beside them.
I want to hold and protect and love and cry over every child in the world.
And I think, “Lord, how could you send your son into this? You’ve seen far worse things than I have; you’ve been there for every death, every abuse, every child sacrifice, every hideous murder since the beginning. You know what we are. You know what we are capable of. How could you send your son into this mess, knowing what we are?
“You had no guarantee that he wouldn’t end up eaten by cannibals before he could walk—in fact, he almost was murdered by Herod as an infant! It almost happened. How did you know Joseph would listen to You and flee and protect him? How did you know that Mary was so full of grace that she would give your son the love and the training he would need? And yet you took the risk. You sent him.”
And then I remember.
“It wasn’t just a risk. You did send him to die. He was brutally murdered as a man, no less precious to you then than he was as a sweet infant. He died so that we wouldn’t be stuck in this filth, so that we could be restored and part of your good plan.”
And my heart is overwhelmed.
*Note: This is a something I wrote shortly after the birth of my first daughter. It’s a bit more intense than is typical for me, but the enormity of the Atonement should always make me shudder with the awe I felt in this moment.