Our youngest child is now two and a half years old. I remember very clearly the day 20 weeks into that pregnancy when an ultrasound revealed that our newest baby would be a… boy. I put on the bravest face I possibly could. After all, this was great news! All signs pointed to our third born being a perfectly healthy baby… boy. My husband and I parted ways in the lobby of the hospital and I managed to hold it together until I got to the privacy of my car. I shut the door, took a deep, shuddering breath in and then sobbed uncontrollably until I simply had no more tears. My shoulders shook and I gasped for air as the torrent of emotion raged through my body.
I hated each and every tear that fell that day. I resented myself for being so trite and immature that I would even dare cry over something as trivial as the gender of a baby – our baby – our very much loved and very much wanted baby. I had dear friends whose hearts ached because their bodies could not bear one baby and there I sat crying in my stupid car because my abundant fertility had resulted in yet another baby… boy. I was ashamed of myself, but no amount of reason could quiet the crying.
Our first was a boy. Our second was a boy. And needless to say, I love my boys. It does my heart well being the mother to brothers. Their sweet little hearts are bigger than their growing bodies. They wrestle, crash, run, play in the mud, dress up like super-heroes, call me “princess” and “boo-a-ful” (that’s 4 year old speak for beautiful). I love my boys. But I ached for a daughter. A little girl with my brown hair and her daddy’s blue eyes. Or maybe my hazel eyes and her daddy’s (once upon a time) platinum blonde hair. A little girl that would grow into a woman who would one day be one of my closest friends. We would talk on the phone. She would learn from my mistakes and grow into a far greater woman than I would ever be. I had always dreamed of being the mother to a daughter.
Early on in that first trimester with our third little boy who would be named Joshua Paul, I set my eyes on this Psalm…
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
I took it as God’s promise to me that this pregnancy would give me a daughter. I just knew God was going to give me a baby girl because that was a desire of my heart – and there it was – right there, spelled out in black and white
he will give you the desires of your heart
This was God’s chance to do what he had promised to do!
But in the months that followed faith gave way to fear. I became increasingly afraid that God wouldn’t make good on his promise. That he would deny me the little girl I wanted. As the ultrasound approached, I grew more and more anxious that God wouldn’t do what I wanted him to do.
So when I sat in my car sobbing that day, it wasn’t just about me wanting a daughter. I knew full well how effortlessly I would adore this baby boy. My hurt came from the knowledge that God would withhold something from me that I so desperately wanted. Why would He do that? Had I not loved Him enough? Had my affections for Him been less than satisfactory? What more did He want from me before he would actually give me the desires of my heart? I felt as if it was a critique of my Christian performance. As if he were saying, “Love me better, do more, work harder – then I will give you the desires of your heart.”
I was so far from the truth. My crippled understanding of the Father’s heart toward me had deflated my faith. My myopic view of Scripture allowed the enemy to twist God’s word into something that drove me away from Him. The point of Psalm 37:4 is not to assure us that God will give us everything we desire – whenever we become the point of Scripture, you can bet our interpretation is off. The point of Psalm 37:4 is that in delighting in The Lord, he actually becomes our deepest desire. God wasn’t keeping something from me, he was seeking to give me something infinitely more. His heart for me was too true to allow me to set my heart’s desire on the frail things that this life offers. No gift he gives can possible compare to the surpassing greatness of the gift that is Him.
Philippians 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
So much of what we desire, of those things we want and hope and long for – they may be good and right and beautiful things – but they are not the best thing. They are not Him. His desire for us is that we would long for Him. That we would exalt the Giver of gifts far above the gifts He gives.
As my sobs subsided that day in the car, I spoke my fears aloud to The Lord. I asked him where I had failed and how I could do better, and he laid these words so clearly on my heart – “This is my good and perfect will for your family.” Did you hear that? This was it. His good and perfect will. He wasn’t holding out on me. God wasn’t withholding my heart’s desire until I performed better. In all this, God was working to become the desire of my heart. I wasn’t being chastised to work harder or do better, God had already given me his good and perfect will as a gift. A free gift. If we could only train our eyes steadfastly on the Giver – then maybe we could see all as a gift.
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