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It wasn’t the worst place for a baby to sleep, but I didn’t like the thought of putting a baby in a laundry basket. For a newborn, it would be safe and portable, but I felt ashamed.
Our second son was born ten weeks premature. A job change, a move, and his premature birth had drained our bank account. Our first son, just fourteen months old at the time, was still in the crib, and a new bed for him was not in the budget. We’d been financially responsible, made the wisest decisions we could, but instead of a six-figure family income, we had accrued a six-figure medical bill.
We had managed to save a few hundred dollars as an emergency fund, and I just couldn’t see how a big boy mattress constituted an emergency. Enter the laundry basket. Disappointed with myself and with God, I laid a folded blanket in the basket as I imagined my newborn sleeping there like a modern-day Baby Moses. “It’s not like I have to shove him into the Nile,” I reminded myself.
The grandparents caught wind of my laundry basket conundrum and showed up with a freshly refinished antique cradle, custom-fitted with homemade flannel sheets. It was beautiful and more perfect than I could have imagined.
I am never offended by God’s repeated commands to His people to remember. Build a monument to remember. Remember to tell your children what happened here. Do this in remembrance. But I so easily forget.
I know God can provide. I’ve seen it throughout Scripture, in the lives of friends, and even in my own situations. But between my cry for help and His intervention, I sometimes feel He’s disappointed me. The storm rages while the Savior sleeps. The baby arrives, and only a basket is available.
Eighteen months later and still chipping away at hospital bills, we welcomed our third son. And now we really needed a big-boy bed and a mattress. Eventually, we’d need two.
While my boys napped, I scrubbed apple juice from the floor and stewed about the bed situation. I mapped out all the scenarios in my head. Maybe God would make a surprise bank deposit. Or perhaps we’d find a brand-new mattress wrapped in plastic along the highway and haul it home. Or maybe we could just roll out a sleeping bag. Frustrated by the options, I tossed up a prayer that sounded more like a complaint.
Lord, I hope we can get a mattress, but I hardly think it constitutes an emergency. If that’s what you want us to blow the emergency fund on, then fine.
It was a silent declaration of my disappointment to the King of the Universe, the One who’d already provided a cradle in lieu of a laundry basket.
That weekend my husband and I hauled our toddlers to a friend’s dance recital. I’m sure it was lovely, but I only remember trying to keep the boys from being folded up in the theatre chairs. When the house lights came on, we were all eager to exit.
On our way out, we ran into a friend. He described their home renovations then suddenly interrupted his story. “Hey, you guys wouldn’t happen to need a couple of mattresses, would you? I’m so sick of moving those things around. They’ve barely been slept on, and I just keep moving them around the house. If you can haul ‘em, you can have ‘em.”
My face went cold, and I felt reverently startled. It was as if Christ’s presence was so heavy, so near, that something akin to worship washed over me. No one knew I had complain-prayed and received such a clear answer, not even my husband. With one son on my hip and another yanking my arm towards the exit, I stood stunned, marveling at the timing and provision.
For those of us who hope in Christ, there are moments when He applies His kind attention to our particular need. His powerful hand reaches through the invisible curtain separating heaven from earth, and we see with absolute clarity that our hope is not based on our ability to rearrange circumstances.
Truthfully, a cradle isn’t a basic human need. A laundry basket would have done the trick. A sleeping bag wasn’t my first choice, but it would have sufficed. Jesus knew my deepest need was not a bed. The thing I needed most was to remember.
Two big-boy beds became an indoor monument to reminded me that my Savior is attentive to my cry (Psalm 34:15). He knows what I need before I ask. He will not give a snake instead of a fish, and He won’t replace a loaf of bread with a stone (Matthew 11:7-9). Without requiring suggestions from us, He listens. He responds in ways that prove He is not bound to the scenarios we can conceive.
The remedy for disappointment is to remember that our hope is based on the reliability of Jesus to do what He’s promised by whatever method He chooses. He rarely works in the way we expect, but He is always working for His glory and our good, even while we wait.
Though He may surprise us, He does not disappoint.
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Therefore encourage one another
and build each other up as you are already doing.
1 Thess 5:11 CSB