Several years ago my wife, Kristen, and I were told by a series of doctors that it was highly unlikely we would ever conceive and bring a child to birth. The most optimistic doctor gave us a 1-3 percent chance. We went through a period of grieving, went to see a counselor for a time and then began exploring adoption possibilities.
In the midst of the grief, counseling and learning, Kristen woke up one morning with a lump in her stomach. It was a few anxious days before she could get in to see a doctor. The doctor wanted her to have an ultrasound. I was not able to be with her during the ultrasound, so the doctor’s office called me and said, “The doctor would really like you to be here when she goes over the results with your wife.”
During the drive across town, God and I had a pretty serious conversation. Well, I’m sure God was trying to talk, but I wasn’t giving God the time or space. I let God have it. I told God I was nervous, angry and scared. I thought God was being unfair putting all this on us at one time and I was expecting the worst news from the doctor, so it was time for God to start helping out. Let’s just say, it was a prayer modeled on some of the Psalms of lament or the cries of Job. In all fairness, it may have been more of a rant than a prayer; it was rather one-sided.
As soon as I entered the doctor’s office, Kristen stood up and started crying. I wanted to go back outside and tell God this was the big moment, good time to start helping out and all. Instead, I hugged my wife and she slipped a picture into my hand. It was a picture of the four-month old child growing inside her. Even as the reality of this pregnancy began to sink in, I was still nervous; the doctors did not say it was just unlikely that we would conceive but conceive and bring to birth.
Thankfully the last five months went well (we were especially thankful since we pretty much missed the first four months). As the date of delivery approached, we realized we were gonna have to settle on some names. We chose Matthew, because it means a gift of God. Then we added Isaac as his middle name. Isaac means laughter.
Isaac is the name given to the child born to Sarah and Abraham in Genesis. In Genesis 17 we are told that Abraham falls down on his face and laughs when God tells him that he will have a child with Sarah. In Genesis 18 Sarah is said to have laughed when she hears the news. Finally, God says, “Name the child laughter, since you all think this is so funny” (that’s a very loose translation of Genesis 17:19).
So we named our son God’s Gift of Laughter (Matthew Isaac) to remind ourselves that God is present and working in unexpected ways in our world and in our lives. Today, our son turns 12 and he and God continue to amaze me and bring laughter into our midst.
Thanks (and sorry I missed the first four months you were around son.)