I was overjoyed to begin last year’s Advent season with remarkable news: A long-awaited baby would soon join my extended family. My sister-in-law who had struggled with infertility for over a decade stood up at the Thanksgiving table. She parted her sweater to reveal an unmistakably pregnant belly.
“I’m five months along,” she said with a shy smile. The room fell silent, but only for a second, until the laughing and weeping for joy began.
My proud brother-in-law flashed an ultrasound picture. Everyone stared in awe at the perfect profile captured in black and white. And this past April, we all celebrated more boisterously than we had at any of the births that preceded his, as aunts and uncles, grandparents and a network of almost 30 first cousins connected via countless phone calls and Zoom meetings, to welcome baby Ian.
Unto us, a child is born. Unto us, a son is given… (Isaiah 9:6)
From the pregnancy announcement through Ian’s birth to watching videos of him learning to crawl, the news of life where life was totally unexpected – perhaps, even impossible – has bolstered my faith in the way only a miracle baby can. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. Looking back, I think most of us around last year’s Thanksgiving table had long given up on this couple ever having a baby of their own. I have the feeling the soon-to-be parents had possibly given up too, which is why the news was so remarkable.
And over the past year, each time a new photo of Ian arrives, I always stare at his perfect face and wonder:What other miracles have I long given up on? What other dreams have I stopped praying to receive?
I’ve knit neon blue booties for Ian, pondering the fact that we serve the One True God of the Universe who came to us as a baby. The Incarnation now looks even more remarkable to me from this angle: Jesus entered the darkness of Mary’s womb. My nephew has entered the darkness of my disbelief.
How dare I give up hope about other long-awaited miracles?
The gift of Ian’s life has resulted in a renewed commitment to pray for a relative who is suffering from a grave mental illness. Doctors have long called the situation “terminal.” And at some point, I settled into an apathetic place of acceptance about this loved one’s diagnosis. When in reality – and my total lack of prayer life in regard to the grave situation is proof – I had totally given up hope.
But because of a baby, that hope has been restored.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)