A Chosen Life – Part 4

Greetings, and happy February to you all! My weekend so far has been full of snow… A ‘snow bomb’ hit the area where I live on Thursday evening, and dumped about 7 inches on us. Since then we’ve been revelling in this rather unusual cold white stuff. Long snowy walks, igloo-making, sledding and lots of fun and laughter have comprised the past 48 hours. It’s been such a lovely way to start off the new month!

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I captured this photo in a field at sunset yesterday after it finally stopped snowing… Such beauty!

Anyways, let’s move on from cold and snowy England back to our story set in the black of an ancient Egyptian night… If you haven’t read part 3 of A Chosen Life, you can do so here. Now onto part 4! 

~

A scream tore through the air, ripping me from my memories.

Elah was writhing in the grasp of Puah and Aram, her body taut with pain. “Elah, listen,” I spoke forcefully. “Listen to me.” She gasped in distress and then went limp as the pain passed. “Elah, look at me.” She looked down at me, pain and weariness spilling from her eyes. She struggled to catch her breath, tears pooling in her dark eyes. “Elah, when the next pain comes, push. Push with all you have. You must deliver this child. Don’t scream, just push.”

She nodded weakly in assent. I had seen the look in her eyes in others before. It was a look of ultimate weariness, of growing despair, of extreme pain. I had seen it in hundreds of other women before. I had felt it in myself, years before. But I knew it was a sign that the end was near – when a woman looked like that, the child was near to drawing its first breath.

Watching her breathe raggedly, I felt a sudden kinship to this woman. We were so different – she Hebrew, I Egyptian. Our people were divided – one the slave, the other the conqueror. And yet, we were so alike… We worshipped the same God. And we both had lived through the immeasurable pain of an empty womb.

I had too failed to produce a living child. It was a nightmarish stigma – for a woman to fail to conceive and bring to fruit a child was a failure to fully live. This was my reality. This was her reality.

In my pain, I had chosen to become a midwife – chosen to replace bringing my own children into the world with the responsibility of bringing hundreds of other children into the world. But this woman…

This was her reality.

The pain.

The fear and hope mingled with tears.

The endless waiting.

The sorrow hidden by darkness.

A final chance.

And was I to crush all hope?

Desires waged war in my heart as I waited, the life of a child resting in my hands. If I feared the king, I would obey him. If I feared the God I followed, I would obey him. Oh Great God, grant me wisdom!

The next pain wracked the woman’s body, and she pushed as I mechanically instructed her. Looking up from my squatting position I saw the three faces above me – Aram’s tight with worry, Elah’s lined with pain, and Puah’s all calm as she murmured encouragement to Elah. I felt again for the child, and this time I brushed its head with my fingertips.

“Now, Elah! Push!”

The woman bore down again, channelling her pain into a strength greater than one would’ve supposed she could give, given her fatigue. I had seen it time and time again – the incredible pain, the despair, the exhaustion, followed by a leonine effort to bring the awaited child into the world. It never ceased to amaze me. Where did such strength come from?

The fear almost choked me. The moment of reckoning was nearly here. If this child was a son… A son. How could I kill any child, much less the only child of a barren woman? The decision I faced overwhelmed me, and my brain raced in circles.

Kill the sons, spare the daughters.

I have had three others, all born dead…

Oh God, grant me wisdom.

The people of Israel are too many and too mighty.

I beg of you, grant mercy upon my household.

Is this decree clear, midwives of Egypt?

I beseech you to grant me wisdom!

Suddenly the child’s head bulged into my hands. Elah gasped in pain and her body shook with a violent trembling. “Oh God!” She whispered. “Grant mercy!” In that moment, a life suspended in my hands, my heart echoed her prayer.

Oh God, grant mercy.

And then… peace.

In the brief moments before the child’s body was delivered, the room was silent. All the fear passed from me, leaving me feeling strangely light. It was as if a great burden had been lifted from my shoulders. In that instant I knew that the mercy of the God I followed was greater than any fear that the king could instil in me.

I knew what I was here for. To grant life.

I feared the God of Goshen, the God of the people of Israel. The fear of the King’s wrath was nothing compared to the reverence I held towards the God of the Hebrews. I was at peace.

~

Come back next week for the finale of A Chosen Life

Let’s chat in the comments: How have you enjoyed the story so far? Do you think Shiphrah has come to the right decision? Do you think the baby will be alright?

 

Author: Hannah

Jesus follower. writer. bibliophile. dreamer.

One thought on “A Chosen Life – Part 4”

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