“Would you like to hold her?” Those are some of my favorite words to hear when I visit new parents. So with that invitation I carefully cradled all 6 lbs. 10 oz. of a precious little girl barely seven hours old. I never grow tired of seeing the wonder firsthand of a child “knit together” by the Lord Himself.
What happens, however, when the glow of the moment is gone and Mom and Dad take their little one home? What does the future hold for her? In some ways she will face a world more complex and dangerous than that of her grandparents. What new terrorist organizations will spring up in her lifetime? How much farther from decency and morality will society stray? What sadness will she have to endure? What pain will her own sins cause her? St. Paul warned Timothy: “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive—without self-control” (2 Timothy 3:1-3 NIV84). Such thoughts have caused parents to fear for their children or even to wonder whether it is wise to bring them into the world.
But then we remember another Child, the Seed of the woman promised by God from the earliest days of the world. He would be a true child, born with ten fingers and toes, and yet at the same time be the eternal Lord of all. He would be precious to His mother and Joseph. They would carefully protect and care for Him. Still, they could do nothing to prevent the harm that would come to Him. For He came into the world to take on the worst of enemies: sin, Satan, and death. He would “set His face” to go to Jerusalem where He would suffer in mankind’s place for all the sin of all time. The serpent would “bruise His heel.”
The hope of every faithful Old Testament parent for their child lay in that Child. The celebration of each birth was a reminder of the even greater joy to come when the fulfillment of prophecy could be announced: “For to us a Child is born, to us a son is given . . . And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 NIV84).
It is no different for us today. We can truly rejoice at the birth of a child and be confident of that child’s future because of the Child of Hope born in the fullness of God’s time. He was born, lived, died, rose, and now rules forever. He says, “Let the little children come to me, . . . for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14 NIV84). He welcomes them as His own in Holy Baptism and keeps them safe and close to Him as they grow up in His Word and follow Him in faith.
That little one I’m holding in the hospital may look helpless and vulnerable, but she has a mighty Protector and Savior! She is safe and sound in the care of the Good Shepherd. As His precious lamb, she can join King David, her parents, and all of us in saying, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
It is a wonderful thing to hold a newborn child. It is even more precious to be held by the Child of Bethlehem. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”
(2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV84). Blessings to you and yours in His name!
Michael Eichstadt is pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, and president of the Church of the Lutheran Confession.