The bassinet

  • DB Ryen
  • 2 November 2020
And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
    My hope is in you. (Ps 39:7)

Late summer cleanout, throwing things away that we didn’t need anymore. Torn kids’ books, broken toys, clothes that don’t fit anymore (sadly). Then I found the bassinet I’d built years ago, hoping that one day God would fill it with a baby.

My wife and I suffered with recurrent pregnancy loss for years. Even though our first pregnancy had successfully produced a healthy baby boy, we unexplainably couldn’t carry a pregnancy to term anymore. For us, the joy of a new pregnancy would soon be replaced by the heartbreak of another loss. This happened time and again, until our battered hearts couldn’t be happy over a positive pregnancy test anymore. In our experience, pregnancy just brought pain.

We fasted and prayed. We poured out our hearts to God repeatedly, asking that he’d bless us with more children. Our faith wore thin at times, our hope continually crushed. Yet, in the midst of these dark years, we drove onward. It felt like insanity to keep doing what obviously wasn’t working, but somehow we still ‘hoped against hope’ (Rom 4:18).

I built a bassinet.

We couldn’t afford much back in those broke college days, so I found some cheap lumber and went to work. I cut and glued and sanded and screwed. Stain and varnish were carefully painted on. I sewed pieces of canvass together on a $20 sewing machine, forming a fabric box that hung from the wooden frame. I measured twice and cut once, and broke innumerable sewing machine needles. I tore up an old pillow for padding.

At the end, I surveyed my work: an empty homemade bassinet. Would it ever be filled?

We turned to adoption, but that failed too. After financial and emotional investment—both of which we couldn’t afford—the pregnant women changed their minds at the last minute.

The bassinet remained empty.

Through it all, we never stopped praying—sometimes pleading, sometimes swearing, sometimes weeping. I figured God was big enough to handle our anger, our pain, our bad words. And it wasn’t long before we were praising and thanking him, even in the midst of our despair. Isn’t this how many of the psalms go? Crying out in pain, frustration, even anger, and then progressing to praise by the end?

Maybe you can relate. You’re in a tough place too, struggling with infertility or some other mountain of hardship. Lost your job? Lost a loved one? Can’t find love?

You’ll get lots of well-meaning advice that really doesn’t help much—a lot of silver-lining fluff that doesn’t actually comfort you. But if there’s anything I learned through ‘the dark ages’, it’s to keep talking to God. No matter what you say to him, don’t ever give up on speaking to Jesus. He’s big enough to handle your heartache. I think he’d rather you rage at him than not speak to him at all, and you’ll soon realize that it won’t be long before you’re on your face before him. Again. Even in the lowest of lows, you can always get your face a bit closer to the ground to worship God.

Our God is the God of hope. It might not make any sense, but hope is the thing that drives us on, the idea that things can be better one day. But when hope is lost forever, the soul dies.

One day we got a phone call that changed our lives: a baby boy was waiting for us at the hospital. Two years later, a baby girl needed a loving home. A year after that, a pregnancy worked out again. Looking back at it now, we had five years of barrenness, and then my bassinet held three babies in the following five years.

I won’t sugar-coat your pain or tell you that the sun will shine again. Hebrews 11:13 explains that some people never experience the land of milk and honey they hope for on earth. But because of what Jesus has done for us, death isn’t the end of our story. Ultimately, our hope in God won’t disappoint (Rom 5:5). The great men and women of faith who came before us knew this well, and the same holds true for us today. We’ll win in the end, because victory belongs to God and we are his children. It might not always feel that way, especially when you’re struggling for years through dark places (like I was), but eventually our hope in God will be fulfilled, perhaps partly now but definitely eternally.

So don’t give up. Pour your heartache out to God. A broken spirit he’ll never turn away (Ps 34:18). Build a bassinet if you need to, but don’t ever lose hope that tomorrow can be better. Your very life depends on it.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Rom 15:13)