This week I sat in the office of yet another doctor whom I had never met before. (Dad jokes that I know all the doctors in town now, but it's not quite true.) After we discussed the reason I had come, she asked kindly, "I noticed on this form that you said there is a problem with your baby — what is it?" It didn't really have anything to do with the reason I had come to see her, but since she asked, I told her that you have anencephaly.
"Do you know what that is?" I asked. Her eyes got round and then sad like someone who does know what that is. She said she was troubled to hear that, and I said that I was too. Then I started crying, and her eyes got shiny-sad. She explained that she has two grown-up children and gently commented that a parent's love for his or her child endures no matter what the child's diagnosis is. She knew that my tears came so quickly because I love you.
You made us parents for the first time, Nahum, and I am amazed at how much love your Daddy and I have for you. Even though you've never done favours for us. Even though we don't even know what you look like. Even though an onlooker might say that you've given us tears, stress and a wearying string of doctor's appointments. But our deep love for you is not based on your achievements or because of your good health or because of what you'll do for us. When we hear what the doctor says will happen to you, we might almost be tempted to wish we could love you less, so that losing you would not hurt so much. But we cannot do that — we love you deeply, simply because you're our son.
This reminds me of someone else; it reminds me of God. He describes Himself as a Father who loved us to the point of death while we were "still dead in our...sins". Dead people don't do God favours, so that must mean that He loved us before we were any good to Him. We each brought God more stress than joy in that sinful state and maybe sometimes He almost wished too, that our pain didn't pain Him so much. But He continued to love us with His deep Father-love, simply because we are His children.* I think God gave us the parent-child relationship so that we could understand in some small way His unconditional love for His children.
I wonder sometimes how conscious you are of God's presence and our presence with you while you are growing in my womb. Do you already know that He loves you? Do you already know that we love you? We hope that you will always be surrounded by deep parental love. We hope that when you are wrapped in God's forever-loving Father-arms it will already seem familiar. Our imperfect parent-love here on earth is just a shadow of the perfect love your Heavenly Father has for you.
*(Don't be confused, Nahum — God's love doesn't somehow mean our sin doesn't matter. We still have to be honest about our sin and acknowledge what God says about how serious it is. But when we do that, we see His love even there. We see that because of His love, He made a way for us to be rescued from our sin. That's what we celebrate at Easter time, and every Sunday, really.)