There is more to tell of this story, of God's ways of caring and comforting me, of unlikely people who did the right thing and brought me comfort, of facing fears during another pregnancy, and of God's goodness. But the reason I began this story is that I wanted to tell what gift God had given me with the death and birth of my first daughter.
We named her Lydia. It was not the name we had originally chosen if she was to be girl, but we named her Lydia. Lydia was the seller of purple, a valuable cloth fit for royalty. With Lydia's small life, I began to see God's hand in my life in a real way... like a purple thread woven throughout my daily journey. Lydia was the first believer in Asia. Our Lydia was our first baby in heaven, and it seemed like a good name.
Our children all had middle names which their dad chose. Ones which worked for his country. He never could find a name for her, and for ten years, she had only the one name. Last year, I told God that I wish she would have had a middle name, too. Then I was reading somewhere, and I found the name. Amana. It means permanent, secure. It was a good name. Lydia Amana. Now, I feel peace - she needed her whole name, even if she was so tiny.
Back to the gift:
I had watched my friend tell me about the death of her daughter, Sarah, who died of SIDS. I thought then, "the one thing I could never live through is the death of my child. I would not survive." I had longed for children all my life, and knew I just couldn't survive that.
A few weeks after Lydia's birth, I was again sitting in the car driving somewhere. Honestly, God and I have our best conversations in the car! I was thinking ahead to the next steps in our life which would lead us eventually towards going to country that really wasn't that "safe" to be in. Just having lost one baby, I wasn't thrilled about taking my only child (at the time) into a dangerous place. Hey, I was scared at times about taking myself there!
I had grown up in the 70's and 80's in churches that put a lot of emphasis on being right, being prepared to defend your faith, being strong enough to face persecution. Ok. But... how do I know if I am really strong enough. What if....? What if....? What if I am weak? The thought always frightened me. What if I am in a situation where I am not strong enough? I had grown up on the mission field. A few of our community were actually killed for their faith. It was not unheard of. What if I was not strong enough?
And then God began to talk to me. Very, very gently. He showed me again that last night, driving home from pizza and the quiet word and picture He had given to me, the very picture that hung on the wall of the room where I delivered my little girl's dead body.
He could have given me that comfort earlier - somewhere in the two weeks that I carried her body. It would have comforted me then. He didn't. He gave it to me the very night I was going to go through a labor without hope. He gave it to me exactly when I needed to think about my daughter alive with Him and not be focussed on the twisted, dead body which I labored with. He knew exactly when I would need the help and met me exactly then with exactly what I needed to get through that night.
That was the gift God gave me. He showed me that it would have nothing to do with how much I had worked out my "spiritual muscles", but with Him. It wouldn't be a strength He would give me beforehand to store for when needed, but it would be given to me in the time I needed it. He, Himself, would give me what I needed to endure whatever came in the time I needed it. Even if I needed it in my weakest moment.
He gave me confidence in Himself. I know that God will enable me to face whatever comes because He has the strength, not because I do.
Do I still pray that nothing bad ever happens in my life? YES! But, I am not fearful anymore. (well, not so much!) I know my God.
That was the gift of my daughter's short life, that and the joy we and her brothers and sisters will have when we finally get to meet her.