Our church was blessed with the birth of two new babies this past weekend, actually within 24 hours of each other. As we celebrated the births of these little ones, I began to get excited about the privilege it is of going to the hospital, being one of the first to see and hold the baby, and care for the parents in what is always one of the most significant moments in their lives. Here are a few things to think about as you seize these wonderful opportunities to minister to the new parents in your church:
Hold the Baby. If this made you uncomfortable to just read those three words…feel free to decline. I had a hard time holding new babies before I had my own. But if you are willing and able, I encourage you to take a few moments and hold that baby. The parents (assuming they are comfortable with it) will be encouraged by your effort to come see them and take such an interest in their new addition. Holding the baby is the best way to communicate that to them. Providentially, it works nice as a baby fix, since my wife and I are not planning on having any more children of our own. A small perk of the job.
Read Psalm 139. This is one of the best passages of Scripture to read. The psalmist highlights the way God has intimately known each of us as our Creator, created in his image. What wonderful truths are here about God as the Creator of this little one. It is a gift every time to read to a mother who has carried this child for nine months, felt him move, and has just given birth hear these words, ” For you formed my inward parts; you weaved me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (v.13-14) What a great reminder to these parents of God’s direct and sovereign hand in bringing this child into their life.
Pray for the baby’s soul. You want to pray for the parents, the mother’s physical recovery, and a thankfulness to God for this child being, “fearfully and wonderfully made.” But, most importantly, pray for the soul of this child. Pray that the Lord would begin, even now, to open his little heart to know, love, and serve Christ all his days. Pray that these parents would be faithful to teach the gospel to him so that he would respond to it at a young age. In praying this way, so many great theological truths of salvation are brought to the surface and can act as an encouragement as well as a great teaching moment to the parents.
Encourage the mother. Yes, the husband/father has been through much also, but the mom of this new little one has the greatest challenges ahead of her in the near future. The physical healing of the body and the emotional adjustments the weeks and months after giving birth are very real and significant. Postpartum depression is a very real and common reality for women and should never be dismissed or taken lightly. Encourage that mom to lean on the other mothers in the church. Encourage her to ask questions of them. Seek counsel. If she finds herself really struggling, not to dismiss it, but allow her husband and a trusted woman in the church to know.
If you think about, there are very few “life-changing” events we get to celebrate in a person’s life at the hospital as a pastor. Take advantage of them when they come, for the sudden, difficult, and tragic opportunities of hospital visitation will always be there.