HE UNDERSTANDS – MEMORIES FROM AFRICA
The early morning “clink” of the daily delivery of our milk bottles broke the light sleep I was in. Another glorious day in Rhodesia was dawning and I had a list of “to do” things to take care of. We were living in the small town of Hartley in a simple rented home. I stretched and slipped out from under the mosquito net that covered our bed and caught my breath as the cold from the concrete floor reminded me to put my slippers on. As I bent over to shake my slippers to dislodge any uninvited creepy crawly that had chosen my slippers as a good hiding place; I felt a twinge. Now I was truly awake, as I was just two weeks out from my due date for our second child to be born. I woke my sleeping hubby and announced that he might not want to stray too far afield as this might be the day or son or daughter had chosen to be born.
We did not have the convenience of modern day cell phones so it was imperative Glyn stay close to home. The day was August 28, 1973.
Within a couple of hours I knew I was in full labor but needed to do some bookkeeping for our upcoming District Business meeting. So I sat in the office balancing the books and at the same time jotting down the length of time between my contractions! Glyn was anxious as we had a 25 mile drive to the town of Gatooma, where the Maternity Home was; but I was determined to finish the District Quarterly bookkeeping before we left! Much to Glyn’s relief I finally announced it was time to go. The road between Hartley and Gatooma was rather poor and I felt every bump that our car lurched over. We had our 20 month old son with us and he giggled every time we hit a bump!
Upon arriving at the Maternity Home the Matron dismissed Glyn with a wave of her hand telling him to return to Hartley and they would call him once the baby was born! In those days husbands were not permitted in the Labor and Delivery rooms and siblings could not even come during the strict “visiting hours”.
Once I was settled in my room the delivery midwife told me that I was the only patient with the exception of a premature baby who was in an incubator. She told me that Dr. Mossup was playing golf and she would let him finish his golf game before alerting him that I was in full labor. Then she crisply informed me that I still had a way to go and with this being my second child I “knew what to do” and that she would be back to check on me once she had finished feeding the premature baby. These were still the “old fashioned” times of giving birth “naturally”; no fetal monitors; no epidurals; just hard labor that you endured by sheer guts and determination!
Everything was progressing normally when suddenly I was doubled over with a ripping pain. I had no way to call the delivery midwife, so I half crawled and half stumbled out of bed only to discover I was hemorrhaging badly. I called out for help and an African assistant came running, took one look and raced for the midwife. The pain was beyond excruciating, panic on the part of the midwife ensued; with the help of the nurse assistant they raced me to the delivery room and prepped me for the arrival of Dr. Mossup; who had been frantically summoned. He arrived just in time to delivery our second son. The foreboding silence in the delivery room told me something was very wrong. Hastily the cord was cut, Dr. Mossup scoop up the baby and ran into an adjoining room. It seemed as though I waited for an eternity for him to return and when he did his arms were empty! Brokenly he told me that he failed to revive our infant son and felt that there had been too much loss of blood for him to have a fighting chance.
My mind was reeling; how could this be? Just 30 minutes before I was in normal labor with a strong and healthy baby getting ready to be born and in just a fleeting moment of time he was gone! I became aware of Dr. Mossup pacing inconsolably back and forth and then it hit me. His 21 year-old daughter had been killed in an automobile accident just five days prior; compassion for this grieving man welled up from deep within me; finding strength that could only have come from the Lord; I reached out and took his hand and reminded Him that even when we don’t understand, God does understand. I assured him that God would give both of us the courage and strength to face our raw heartache and heal our pain.
The next hurdle to cross was laid squarely on Glyn’s shoulders. We did not have the money to purchase a burial plot in Gatooma. So the next morning Glyn arrived at the Maternity Home with our young son and the District Commissioner’s written authority to carry the tiny body of our precious son, that neither of us had been given the privilege of holding and saying our good-byes to. The midwife gently carried the cardboard box, placed it in the trunk of the car and then helped Glyn put our living son, Russel, on the back seat of the car. All we could afford was to have the baby cremated and his ashes scattered under the Tree of Remembrance and the only place this could be done was in Salisbury (Harare) at the Warren Hills Cemetery. It was a long heart wrenching drive for Glyn to make; all the while crying out to God for help and strength.
Did God understand what we were going through? Without question or fear of contradiction I assure you God understood our pain and grieving hearts.
There are many cynics that would challenge me and say that a “loving God” wouldn’t allow such a thing to happen to two of his children serving Him on the Mission Field, so he obviously doesn’t understand.
Here is my response to those critics:
The scripture teaches us that God understands more than we could ever imagine……
Hebrews 4:14-15 “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
You see my friends; not only was Jesus the High Priest, the Sacrifice and the Savior, but also He came as God in flesh and blood.
For us today, this truth is so very important to grasp.
Because Jesus was here on this earth in a human body, He understands everything we go through. Jesus experienced feelings, hurts, weaknesses and temptations, just as we do. He knows what it is to suffer, to hurt, to be rejected, ridiculed and mocked. Jesus got angry at the Pharisees, He cried over Lazarus and He showed great compassion to a prostitute.
Why did Jesus go through all of this for us? One word answers this question – Love.
He loved us then.
He loves us now.
He has and always will love us.
This leads me to my next truth that we must grasp…………..
Because Jesus has experienced all the same pain, hurt, tragedy that we go through on life’s journey He fully understands what we are experiencing. Not only does He understand but He has promised “never to leave us or forsake us!” (Joshua 1:5)
The Lord understands us better than anyone else and loves us more than anyone else can. YES, GOD DOES UNDERSTAND AND HE CARES FOR US WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE!