I was lying in a West German hospital, having arrived in the middle of the night with heavy bleeding, afraid I was going to lose my baby, our fourth child. My husband, Trent, was in East Germany, visiting our missions contacts behind the Iron Curtain.
We knew he was under surveillance while staying in the hotels they assigned to him. They even attempted to follow him at times. I did not feel I could phone him without putting his purposes and our friends in jeopardy.
The doctor on duty was without compassion, indicating I’d lose my baby. “Then we’ll scrape you out.” She left me alone in a tiny examining room for an hour, saying as she left, “Mull that over for a while.”
Well, I did. What else could I do? I cried. I prayed. I wanted Trent. I felt helpless and alone.
The Psalms in the Bible are known to offer comfort and hope, even to those who may not normally read elsewhere in the Bible. I did not have a Bible with me in that little room and at that moment, but if I had, I would have opened it to the Psalms. Later, when friends brought me a Bible, I came across Psalm Twenty-Nine.
At first reading, it may not seem to offer hope.
Nature is in the grip of violence: floodwaters are rising. The voice of the Lord is thundering upon the waters, is powerful to the breaking of cedars, is breaking them in pieces, is shaking the wilderness. The voice of the Lord, the Psalm says, “is Majestic.”
Then comes a shock of tender words: “The voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve.”
A serene, private, almost intimate picture of a mother deer emerges, hidden away from the storm in her little nest in the undergrowth. She is attending to the universal experience of birth, whatever else is going on around her. The same voice that is breaking up the forest is the voice that says quietly, “Deer, it’s time.” And the mother deer kneels—a posture of worship—and brings forth her young into the threatening world.
Is the Lord, to whom the voice belongs, indifferent to her wellbeing or to that of her child? The author David goes on:
“The Lord sat as King at the flood; Yes, the Lord sits as King forever. The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.”
The Lord sat? He was not frantic or alarmed—at the flood, at the storm—he was King over it. In the midst of turmoil, he gives his people strength: to bring forth young, for instance, and to live a productive and peaceful life, whatever else is going on around them.
Lying in that examining room, I can’t say that the King over the flood—my flood of blood—gave me assurance that it would be all right. But I did stop crying, knowing I and my baby were in his hands. I was not helpless or alone.
When the doctor came back and examined me by ultrasound, she was surprised to see the baby moving. “Oh, it’s alive then!”
But the baby was not out of danger. And in the week to follow, flat on my back in a hospital bed, not allowed to move, not able to let Trent know what was going on, I experienced something of the peace of the King. He was sitting.
I was released from the hospital the very day my husband was driving the thirteen hours from East Germany to our home in West Germany. When he crossed that freedom-dividing border and called to tell me not to wait up, he was surprised and alarmed by my bursting into tears. I could finally release my pent-up news and emotions. But I was sleeping peacefully when he came crawling into bed in the early morning.
Our little girl was born some six months later, healthy, happy and giggly. She is a beautiful, intelligent, and productive young woman. Is the storm, then, past? If anything, the floodwaters over the world seem to be rising. The outward world threatens every birth.
Peace is a hard commodity to come by.
But the King still sits at the flood—whatever that flood may be in my life and in yours—and still speaks with a quiet voice, “It’s time.” Time to go on with life, to live it productively, to kneel in the midst of turmoil, to worship.