(Picture above) An illuminated manuscript depicting Elkanah and his two wives, c.1430. Hannah, one of his wives, struggled with infertility (1 Samuel 1:1-20).
March 16th, 2013.
It was a frigid, but fresh, Winter morning. Thanks to daylight saving, we were enjoying ample light on our drive down to Reading, MA. The traffic seemed to move in slow motion. The only noise I heard was the low hum of the engine punctuated by the occasional swish of passing cars. Hanna had been spotting, so she was visibly nervous. The images of her past miscarriages seemed to impose themselves on her troubled mind. “I don’t think I can handle another miscarriage… but God knows that doesn’t he?” I was silent. “I keep getting this ominous sense that it’s going to be a miscarriage again…”
I could not get myself to mouth the platitudes that I hadn’t enough faith for. So I asked her if I could pray for her. My prayers of faith were streaked with fits of worry, but I prayed nonetheless. Afterward, I suggested that we spend the rest of our ride listening to God.
About ten minutes into our listening silence, a passing car kicked up a pebble onto the windshield and startled me, prompting me to look up through my windshield into the sky to see a hawk soaring directly above me. Isaiah 40:30-31 immediately came to mind:
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
After a few more minutes of listening and waiting, I asked Hanna if she had heard anything. “I don’t know if this is God speaking to me or not, but the line, ‘Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord,’ keeps replaying in my head.”
Though we hadn’t heard the song in a while, I recognized that the line was from the song “Everlasting God”:
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord,
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
Our God, you reign forever
Our hope, our strong deliverer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint you won’t grow weary
You’re the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles
Amazed by this independent corroboration, I enthusiastically shared Isaiah 40:30-31 with her. The message was clear. “Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord.” “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.” We weren’t sure what this message meant for our pregnancy, but we were to set our hope on God and he would give us the strength that is necessary–we gathered as much. We were grateful to hear from God in such a personal manner.
After drawing blood at the Fertility Center, we returned home and waited anxiously for the phone call. Hanna started to bleed more heavily and pass tissues. Discouraged and afflicted, yet Hanna held out hope. A few hours later, the phone finally rang and her reproductive endocrinologist confirmed the dreaded news.
We embraced each other and wept.
Then we sang, “Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord. We will wait upon the Lord. We will wait upon the Lord.”
Later that day, I discovered through a youtube video that the author of the song, Brenton Brown, and his wife had suffered a tragic miscarriage themselves, and that “Everlasting God” was actually based on Isaiah 40:27-31 and written during a time of adversity in their lives. Verses 27-29, which I had not memorized, struck close to home:
Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God?”
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Though we could not fathom God’s understanding, we were reassured that our way was not hidden from the Lord, that our cause was not disregarded by him. This truth strengthened our weary hearts that day.
And we continue to wait upon the Lord…