I write this from a hospital room. Last week my wife delivered our fourth child—a beautiful baby girl—but some post delivery complications brought us back in. They are not life threatening, but as you mothers reading will understand, there are painfully unbearable and utterly excruciating complications that can render a mother unable to sit, walk, go up stairs, cough, laugh, hold her baby, or even think straight. Add in a less than compassionate surgeon who was a little hasty with her scalpel and a little heartless with her pain management and you get a body screaming in total and complete agony.
A husband is necessary at times like these. Words needed to be spoken. (Some very clear words to the surgeon.) Action needed to be taken. Love needed to be administered. The Apostle Paul is very clear about a husband’s vocation: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” Ephesians 5:25. It is an imperative. Scripture has many of them. Often times it seems people like to focus on their favorite imperative for one reason or another. Presently, the North American church is infatuated with one of Jesus’ imperatives from Matthew 28:18-20. But when that happens, other imperatives, like the one above, are prone to get overlooked, devalued, or even ignored.
What strikes me, at least at this moment in time, is how the vocation of a husband, particularly in circumstances like these, is recognized even by the unchurched. Over the last two months I have been working with one middle-aged and completely unchurched woman. To her, the creation account, sin, Jesus, the Lord’s Supper, and the resurrection (among many other things) were entirely foreign.
We were scheduled to meet on the day I needed to bring my wife into the hospital. I sent out a quick message to her explaining the situation. Without hesitation her words were “Go, take good care of your family.” She wasn’t offended. She wasn’t angry. She understood. I marvel at how the God created order of vocational responsibility transcends even the unchurched. Perhaps it is something like Paul’s words to the Romans about God’s law being written the hearts of all people (Rom. 2:15)?
My wife is finally sleeping comfortable. She is also able to hold our newborn again. The pain medicine she received was no small dose. Some compassionate nurses commented on how much pain she must have been in. The first doses were so strong she was not allowed to hold or nurse our baby. She wept with longing. No mother with a newborn wants to be kept away from her baby.
A husband is necessary at times like these. Words needed to be spoken. Action needed to be taken. Love needed to be administered—to my wife and newborn. Unless I stayed with my wife in her room our week old newborn was not going to be allowed to stay in the hospital.
So finding some baby formula and a grandma to take our other three children (grandmothers are also a grand vocation!) I gathered up an overnight bag. Sleeping in hospital chairs is not comfortable. But it is a minor thing so that a mother can be near her newborn and a wife can have the comfort of her husband. When one is in such pain, they want to be near those they love. After all, husbands and wives do commit to bearing with one another in sickness and health. It is part of their vocation. As her husband, I am happy to love my wife this way. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” Ephesians 5:25.
This, too, is part of the mission of the Holy Christian Church.