On December 10 we got to meet our much-anticipated Baby Four, a beautiful baby girl who astonished us all with her speedy entrance into the world.
We have always chosen to be surprised in the delivery room to find out whether our long-awaited baby is a boy or a girl. So we always have two names ready to go ahead of time. When we were waiting for “Baby Tres” to arrive, I wrote “As in Finch, Not As In Halpert” (the story of how we chose the name Jem), which I posted a week after he was born. I also wrote this post, which stayed buried in my drafts folder…until now. This is the girl name we chose in 2010 and three babies later, we finally get to use it!
We named our new baby girl Leah Providence. Here’s why:
The name Leah means “ewe.” And, yes, she was the “ugly” wife of Jacob. So why in the world would we saddle a little girl with these unfortunate associations? I’m grateful to Tim Keller and to the Jesus Storybook Bible for good answers to that question.
“No one loves me,” Leah said. “I’m too ugly.”
But God didn’t think she was ugly…and he chose her–to love her specially, to give her a very important job. One day, God was going to rescue the whole world through Leah’s family. Now when Leah knew that God loved her, in her heart, suddenly it didn’t matter any more whether her husband loved her the best, or if she was the prettiest. Someone had chosen her, someone did love her–with Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.
[And from Leah’s son Judah would come the true Prince that] would love God’s people. They wouldn’t need to be beautiful for him to love them. He would love them with all of his heart. And they would be beautiful because he loved them.
As any girl knows, it doesn’t matter if our Leah is beautiful or plain–she will certainly, at some point, feel unlovely and unlovable. She’ll be tempted to think that she has to earn the esteem and applause of the world with her accomplishments (“Surely one more son will do the trick!”). It’s my prayer for Baby Leah that she’ll learn early on that there’s only one person’s approval that matters–and that she’s already got it, through Jesus. What heartache she’ll be spared if she can learn this early on!
Leah’s middle name is Providence, which is a more melodious way of saying “God is sovereign over everything.” We chose this name just before we learned Sam was on the way, and I remember confessing in a prayer that it felt like tempting fate to declare such an unwavering trust in God, as if I were daring Him to try me. As it turned out, that child DID end up pushing my trust in God to its limits, and now the name is even more dear to me than before.
Here’s what the Heidelberg Catechism says says regarding this beautiful truth:
Q. 27. What do you understand by the providence of God?
A. The almighty and ever-present power of God whereby he still upholds, as it were by his own hand, heaven and earth together with all creatures, and rules in such a way that leaves and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and unfruitful years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, and everything else, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand.
Q. 28. What advantage comes from acknowledging God’s creation and providence?
A. We learn that we are to be patient in adversity, grateful in the midst of blessing, and to trust our faithful God and Father for the future, assured that no creature shall separate us from his love, since all creatures are so completely in his hand that without his will they cannot even move.
Understand these truths, Little Leah, and you will grow up to be unshakable! (You’ll have to tell me what that’s like.)
So, interesting post script: Leah spent the first six days of her life in the NICU of our excellent hospital, having been born with fluid on her lungs and subsequently developing a condition called pneumothorax, which (as I understand it) is a little tear in the lung that allows air to leak into the chest cavity. By the grace of God, Leah’s lungs healed with minimally invasive treatment and she is now home and in perfect health. And while six days is a very short amount of time in the NICU world, it felt to me like an eternity. On several occasions I read back over Leah’s questions from the Heidelberg Catechism: “we are to be patient in adversity, grateful in the midst of blessing, and to trust our faithful God and Father for the future…”
Providence is not a doctrine for the faint of heart. But it’s the only one I’d want sitting with me in those long hours beside that tiny baby and those beeping monitors, and it’s the only one I want now that we’re home.
We’re relieved and thankful to be able to practice the “grateful in the midst of blessing” portion of the catechism this week as we look forward to time with friends and family for Christmas.