The word is Aramaic for “little girl,” and it is the middle name my husband and I chose for our daughter. The word comes from the passage in the book of Mark where Jesus raises the little girl from the dead.
For us, the name is a tangible reminder of the miracles God performed in the past and the miracles He continues to perform today. We wanted to continually remember that Christ performed His miracles to bring glory to Himself and point people to the cross.
Birth of a Baby
It was a Thursday afternoon in August 2009. Twenty-six hours had passed since my contractions first started. My doctor showed my husband and me charts that monitored the heart rate of our unborn baby. He pointed to the downward trend which indicated that my baby’s heart rate wasn’t recovering sufficiently after each contraction. I heard full sentences and complete phrases. However, the only words that stayed with me were “emergency caesarean section.”
My precious girl was trying to arrive in the world in the wrong position. Her heart rate was dropping, her cord was around her neck, and she was in distress.
This was everything I had been hoping, praying, and believing against.
Within a few minutes, my daughter was successfully and safely delivered, and the doctors were stitching up my incision. I breathed a prayer of thanks that God had taken care of us and safely brought Sekai into the world. It didn’t happen the way I had hoped; yet I could feel God’s presence in the operating room. In that moment, I knew that God was there caring for my little family.
I wish I could say those calm feelings of God’s control that day stayed with me. The truth was in the days, weeks, and months following my daughter’s birth, my mind continually replayed my pregnancy wondering if we had somehow messed up.
Perhaps we chose the wrong doctor? Maybe I should have searched for a midwife? Or maybe we shouldn’t have gotten pregnant so quickly? Or suppose we hadn’t truly sought God?
Logic lead me to reason with myself that this was just life. Things don’t always work out the way we hope. Yet my mind kept reliving all of our choices and decisions. The things that seemed in our control: the doctor we chose, the hospital where my daughter was delivered, the healthy diet I mostly tried to implement, the birthing classes I took preparing myself for my much desired natural birth. And the things that seemed out of our control: the position of our baby in my womb or the day she decided to enter the world.
I tried to minimize my feelings of disappointment because I felt that what I had gone through was really just a blip on the radar compared to the way many others had suffered in life. So I had a c-section and not a natural birth. It happens to women all over the world every single day. I should be thankful that both my little girl and I were alive.
Yet I kept asking, “Why did this have to happen to me? What was the reason?”
I thought that with time the “whys” surrounding Sekai’s delivery would become increasingly clearer. I hoped that I would suddenly understand the reason everything unfolded as it did. This perfect clarity or 20/20 hindsight never arrived. Instead, my frustrations and disappointments lingered.
One afternoon during a conversation with my husband, I voiced my questions. “Why do I keep second guessing our decisions and wondering if I had done something different could the c-section have been avoided?”
His words were simple, “Because it didn’t turn out the way you wanted.”
“But why? Why didn’t it happen the way we trusted it would?”
My husband wisely answered me,”Perhaps the bigger question is whether we believe that God is sovereign even when things don’t work out the way we hope.”
After six months of second guessing based on what had actually happened, I suddenly had what I could only call an “ah-ha” moment.
I had been searching for clarity and understanding; wanting to know “why?” What was the point? That perhaps my delivery went so completely against what I had prayed for because somehow I had done something wrong.
Is God still sovereign even when plans don’t work out?
My voice wanted to say that He certainly is. However, deep in my heart I knew at that moment I wasn’t sure. It was hard for me to believe that my c-section was part of God’s purposes. In some ways it was easier for me to continue thinking “if only.”
Of course God’s timing with my epiphany was perfect. In the midst of God speaking to me through my husband, He was also speaking to me through the book of Job. I was halfway through the book during my daily devotions. As I read over familiar scriptures, it occurred to me that nothing had worked out for Job the way he had hoped or dreamed. It was as though a wrecking ball had crashed through his life. In the end, God did restore what Job had lost over and above.
However, I don’t think that is the point.
For me, the point is that Job still believed that God was sovereign in the midst of profound disappointments. Even though Job was never enlightened to the purpose of his pain and hurt, he could still respond in the following way in chapter 1 verses 20-22:
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.”
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
I wasn’t exactly charging God with wrongdoing. In fact, I was self-righteously wondering what I had done wrong.
However, by second guessing what happened and longing to understand the reasons for my experience, I was effectively taking God off His throne. My desire for purpose actually said, “Lord, you might be sovereign over some things but not my c-section.”
The thing is God is sovereign over my c-section just like He is sovereign over everything else.
After Job and his friends searched for meaning in the pain and disappointment, God spoke. Maybe not the way we would have hoped. The gist of what God said is, “I am God. Maker of all. Sovereign over all. May My name be glorified.”
God ultimately acts so that His name may be glorified. Like Job, I may never understand more than that.
Modern Day Miracle
The other day I was telling a close friend about this journey God has brought me on. I shared of God’s faithfulness as He has gently reminded me of the sovereignty of His ways.
She told me she couldn’t understand why I was being so hard on myself. She said that I could have died. Sekai could have died. If this had been long ago or I had been out in a very rural location, we both likely would have died.
The thought was sobering.
Sometime later it occurred to me that just like the name Talitha reminds my husband and me that God performs miracles because it points to the reality of Christ, so does my c-section scar. A four-inch scar that everyday reminds me of my miracle-working Father.
Perhaps this is perfect 20/20 hindsight: seeing the miracles of God in the midst of disappointments, then choosing to let those miracles direct me humbly to my knees before the foot of Christ. It’s there that I glorify God and thank Him for who He is and not just what He has done.