“Give me the baby,” he said to me. I shot him a glance that would have burned down the house if it could’ve, “I’m FINE.” Determined to calm the screaming infant in my arms, I attempted (once again) to get her to latch on, to nurse. She’d have none of it. And she continued to scream. I attempted the other side. Frustration encompassed my movements; they became jerkier, stiffer, and angrier. Through gritted teeth, I begged my daughter, “Just latch on! Just shut up!” Daniel stepped toward me now a bit more determined, “Give me the baby,” he said again arms outstretched. “I CAN DO THIS!!” I hollered back, tears in my eyes from the frustration and the physical pain I was experiencing.
I have two other kids…I can do this! I’m smart….I can do this! I am very strong and very capable…I can do this! For crying out loud, I’ve got advanced degrees….I can do this! People come to me for advice… why can’t I do this?!
A moment passed as I alternated between glaring at my husband trying to intervene and my child who was screaming and screeching in away that sounded like the odd mix of a prehistoric avian dinosaur and a banshee. Finally, I broke. I handed him the baby; I was a near blubbering mess on the couch.
Something important happened in that brief moment in time, prior to me giving my husband the baby. Another voice--louder than the first (my own)--pierced through the chaos of the mental and emotional power struggle I was engaged in. This voice said to me, “It’s okay to admit defeat here. You are justified by faith apart from works. I love you even now.” It wasn’t the literal voice of God but it was God speaking through the Gospel that I hear weekly to me, through the very theology I study on a (near) daily basis.
You see, I was very much out of control; my pride was very much in a power struggle with the facts: I needed to hand that baby over. I couldn’t get myself under control, I couldn’t get her to stop crying, I couldn’t do anything. Intervention had to occur to ensure her safety (my husband did the right thing). There is only one message in the entire world that frees us up to confess our lack of control, to admit our failure, that says pride be damned, I need help! And that message is the Gospel; the gospel message about Jesus Christ, our saviour, and his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. It is only in hearing this message that I am freed to confess my helplessness, my utter helplessness.
There is only one message in the entire world that frees us up to confess our lack of control
“But the words ‘it was counted to him’ were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Romans 4:23-25)
“Victory over sin and death does not come by the works of the Law or by our will; therefore it comes by Jesus Christ alone” (Luther).
I am justified apart from works because of what Christ has done for me. And in being justified apart from works and hearing that it is finished (really, all of it) in Christ, I am freed from the shackles of having to perform, from having to be in control, from my pride and freed to confess help! (Help from my saviour and from my neighbor!) The Gospel is the word that carries us through those dark moments, any other word (especially the word of the Law) fails and miserably so; and this is why we never cease in proclaiming this word over and over again. It truly is the light in the darkness and the firm ground under our feet.