Maternal Instinct

A couple of years ago, I was working as a vet tech at a regional equine hospital during the spring foaling season. A foal came in with its dam due to an illness, and unfortunately the foal had to be humanely euthanized after trying our best to correct the problem. Now, the protocol for such an event (since, in veterinary medicine we can’t explain things to the mare) is to perform the euthanasia and leave the mare with her deceased foal for a few hours to give her time to understand. Then, either the foal is removed, or the mare is transferred to a different stall. In this case, I was instructed to move the mare. So, I clipped a lead rope on her and she followed me calmly and willingly across the facility. Until she saw another mare and foal; then she pulled at the lead, and turned to try to go back to her old stall (where her foal was still laying). She whinnied frantically and kicked me in the hip. I was fine, but very upset. What is wrong with her?? She KNOWS her foal is dead, why freak out now?? I wondered. I’d understand soon enough.

This past spring, my husband and I welcomed our first child to our family. However, in February of 2018, I had a miscarriage with my first pregnancy at about 6 weeks along. I was shocked at how heartbroken I was.  Not because I don’t value life, but because I thought that since I only knew of the pregnancy for a few short weeks I should have gotten over it pretty quickly. When I first realized that I was in the beginning stages of miscarriage I was devastated. The only way I knew how to describe how I felt was the way that mare panicked and cried out when she left her dead foal behind.

I felt this horrible maternal instinct, but had nowhere to go with it. For the next six months I wanted desperately to have a baby, and cried over what felt like hundreds of negative tests. Every pregnancy announcement and image of moms with their kids killed me, and every time I felt that way I understood a little better why that mare kicked me that spring day a year or so before. Maternal instinct isn’t just for people. God created animals to feel that powerful, protective desire as well.

It’s for that reason that the recent battle between pro-life and pro-choice has me so upset. If I hurt so badly after knowing about my baby’s existence for only 2 weeks, how could a mother go on living life normally after aborting her child at any stage, but especially late term? Even the animal kingdom knows better than to abandon their young and not feel pain over it. I even thought that once I had my son in my arms this spring, I would recover more completely from my losses, but I was wrong. I still mourn my miscarriages. It still hurts; I expect it always will. After all, it’s not just about how many kids are in your family pictures. It is about life itself.

Of course, this is only my story. There are many others with similar and even more painful stories out there. God declares that children are a heritage of the Lord (Psalm 127:3), and they are to be valued! The price to pay for hurting one of God’s precious children is high: Luke 17:2 says “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea than that he should offend one of these little ones.” That’s a very vivid picture of the absolute sanctity of life.

I certainly don’t have all the answers to society’s problems, or even the answer to the abortion crisis happening right now, but this I know for sure: life is precious. Deep down, we all know it. Even the animal kingdom knows it. We may not ever succeed in improving the society we live in, but may God help Christians to hold fast to His Word and value our children the way He calls us to.

Suzie Altena

Trials

Trials are a blessing. What? Trials, a blessing? How are these stumbling stones, these thorns in my side, a blessing? Indeed. And not only blessings, but they are essential to life as a Christian and essential for us to bring our walk of faith closer to God. You see, to refine gold, there is a fire. To sharpen a blade, there is a grinding stone. A scar is fresh new skin, but first there is a cut. Everything in life that is good has most likely gone through a long and painful process to get the way it is. People are no different.

James 1:2-3 “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” Count it all JOY when you fall into temptation. Joy? That I have to fight my sinful nature? Yes. Because that proves the Spirit of God is in you and is fighting in you. You see your trials are not only proof of God in you but by those trials you are one step closer to finishing your walk of faith. One step closer to perfection. Your trials are battles and you are the warrior. Warriors get scars and injuries. Don’t be discouraged by your failures or stumbling. Failure is not falling down. Even the mightiest man falls down. Failure is when you refuse to get back up. May the grace of God and his strong hand lead you through your trials and make you better because of them. Make you sharper, more pure, more his perfect, wonderful, precious child.

Jared Vandyke

Obstacles

A month ago we had a significant windstorm in the Grand Rapids area. Lightning, thunder, heavy rains and an isolated tornado were accompanied by high winds that leveled trees and knocked out power for two days or so.  I commuted to work that Friday morning alright, but when I went use the trails they were blocked with large trees that had fallen during the storm. I was unable to maneuver my bike around them. I tried one direction and couldn’t get through. I went the opposite way and faced the same problem. Finally I biked through Grandville and it ended up taking me longer to get home than I had anticipated.

This little experience is not that much different from our everyday lives. Sometimes God sends us trials and temptations that we find difficult to see our way through and get around. We often wonder why He sends us these things and if there is any escape from them. The answer to these questions is that God sends these things for our spiritual profit even if we don’t understand fully how they are going to work out for our good. God sends us trials, and gives us the grace to bear them. God provides an escape in the midst of the temptations of this life. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Cor. 10:13).

In other words, no temptation is outside of God’s control. God will not allow us to fall into any unplanned temptation or trial because He has planned and continues to plan all things. Sometimes the way through our trials and temptations may take longer than we would like, just like my commute home did. We all have obstacles in life. For some it’s a disease such as diabetes or cancer. For others the obstacle is being confined to a wheelchair either from birth or due to an accident. For still others it’s depression, eating disorders or family issues. Others experience unemployment.  Whatever the problem, we may bring our prayers to God and trust in His protecting care. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God in him will I trust” (Ps. 91:1, 2). When we place our trust and reliance on Him, we will never be disappointed in Him no matter how bleak our circumstances seem to be. May God grant us this grace!

Kevin Rau