Sunday, November 24, 2013


In my quest to make peace with being separated from my daughter, I reached a point of acceptance when I realized one key thing: at that point in her life, I was not able to care for her. It's a weird position to be in as a mom, having to hand your child over to someone else better qualified. I'm supposed to be the one who can care for my children best. Why would I give her over to someone else? Even as my daughter was so sick, I still felt like I should be the one caring for her needs.

It finally struck me as I was visiting with her one evening. My husband had come up that morning, and after he returned home, I left to have my quiet visiting time. In between our visits, my daughter had pulled out the IV that was in her arm and they had to put a new one in her head. She actually has great veins in her head! But when I arrived to spend time with her, I was distraught at how awful it looked. She had this giant needle in her head. It was just really sad... I arrived for one of her "care times" so I would be able to feed her and snuggle. We got settled in, she ate a little, and then fell back asleep. About a minute after she dozed off, though, she kind of jerked in her sleep and the way my arm was positioned knocked the IV loose. At first I thought it was okay, but then all the sudden, blood started shooting everywhere -- out of her head. It was awful! I started yelling for the nurse who calmly whisked over, removed the line, applied pressure, and added a bandaid. I was apologizing profusely and she told me it was fine; she would just place another. She gathered her supplies and it took her all of 30 seconds to find a vein, place the IV, and tape it down. The whole ordeal lasted no more than five minutes and we were back to our snuggles.

I sat there and thought about that nurse. This was her job. She spent years in school, months in training in the NICU, and every day she came to work, she did just those things. She placed IVs and suctioned CPAPs and changed diapers -- each one weighed -- and froze and thawed breast milk and administered medications and consulted with doctors and responded to the wailing babies and their monitors. I can rock a diaper change with the best of them, but everything else? I'm just not qualified. If you had asked me to fix my daughter's IV, I would not have been able to do it.

I've written already about the body of Christ that surrounded us in this time and the control I had to hand over to the Lord, the letting go I was forced into. We were put in a position where we had to rely on other people, trained, qualified individuals to save our daughter's life. And God was with each and every one of those people. He knew exactly the pediatrician to have on call to come consult when she was born, one who would know the severity of her illness and act accordingly, despite how distressing it was to me. (She is now my daughter's full-time pediatrician. We love our God-send!) He knew exactly the neonatologist to admit her and walk with us through the early times of touch-and-go. (Interestingly, her amazing neonatologist moved to Texas just a week after she was born. Our daughter was one of his last patients at that hospital.) She knew exactly the resident to pair with that doctor to be the one to deliver the hard news, consult with us, give us all the information, and make us feel cared for while we had to make difficult decisions. (Also cool, that same resident who worked with our daughter's neonatologist moved down to pediatrics just a few days after our daughter was transferred there.) God knew the perfect, most caring nurse who needed extra hours to match up with our sweet girl so she could have close to two weeks of uninterrupted care. She also appreciated my sense of humor and commended my efforts pumping and doing my best as a mom.

All of these people were able to take care of our daughter in ways we never could have. And they cared for her in exactly the ways she needed. They met her in her weakness, addressed her failings, and helped to heal her. They were led by God into their professions and placed into our lives exactly when we needed them. They had knowledge, training, and experience we lacked; where we were weak, they were strong. In all their efforts serving and helping, even as they were doing jobs that they got paid for, they were acting as the hands and feet of Christ. They gave of themselves to us, to our whole family. In a time when we were left fumbling, trying to find our footing, these people did what, for us, was the impossible.

These people didn't just spring up out of the ground. They weren't just the ones who happened to be on duty, on call, in need of some cash. Perhaps those were the surrounding circumstances, the immediate events that led them into our path, but the bigger picture involves an orchestrating God. One who is conducting a grand symphony, and at just that moment, cued the trombones. God says this in Isaiah, "For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’... I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. (Isaiah 46:9-11)" What the Lord has purposed and spoken will be. Our own plans, however... "Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? (Lamentations 3:37)" Even the things we set out to do, unless it is the Lord who commands them, they will not happen.

I just assumed that since God had given my daughter to me, to grow and nurture, that I was the one who would always care for her. Instead, He had a whole host of others to come to her rescue, to literally save her life. He didn't will for my daughter to die. He willed for her to live, and for that to be, He used an army of helpers, rescuers, savers, healers to nurse and doctor her back to health. To each of those people, He gave strength to match our weakness. They were all "just doing their jobs", but as a result, there is one sweet, squealing girl on earth who would not be otherwise. And it was all the will of God.

Consider the power of your life through this lens. Sometimes you are down. Sometimes you are weak and broken and you need a rescuer. And God sends you just that beautiful soul. In your weakness, you allow God to shine, to redeem you from the pit. Sometimes you are strong. Sometimes God has equipped you to help another, to be the rescuer, to reach down your hand and get dirty (like that poor nurse who was covered in my daughter's blood) and drag someone back to life. Consider the picture here as this happens. Friends, this is the Gospel. The Rescuer sent from above, down into the mire and murk of this world, not to mock or parade around with His glory, to be crowed king of the empire, or to brag of His knowledge. No, this One through whom "all things were made" used His strength to meet us in all of our weaknesses, no matter what they were, to pull us out of the pit and back to life. He gave over His own life to accomplish this, bleeding that you can be washed clean, dying that you would have life. 

"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint,and to him who has no might he increases strength. (Isaiah 40:28-29)" This source of strength is our mighty God. He doesn't run out of steam. He doesn't get tired or take a day off or "just not feel like it" sometimes. He has power, always, and He gives that power to the faint, to those who just can't do it anymore. To those with no might, He gives them might, His might, for strength. Why? "Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:30-31)" Not for us to boast in our youth or our strength; these things will fail us. He gives us strength because we wait on Him. We turn to Him, rely on Him, put Him in His rightful place in our lives -- the King upon the throne -- and He renews our strength.

We don't muster it up out of our intelligence or physical strength or ingenuity; we are blessed with this strength by God so that we would proclaim the source of our strength and bring Him glory. God's strength is one that allows us to fly as effortlessly as the majestic eagle, allows us to run and not get tired, walk and not need to sit down. This strength is supernatural. And it equips us to do supernatural work, the work of dying to ourselves and serving the Risen Lord. Pray for this strength, my friends, as it is promised to you by the One who laid the foundations of the earth.

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