We can all relate to stories, because our lives are made of them. Our chapters may look different in the details, but we all share in love, laughter, pain, and death.
Psalms 46: 1-3
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging”
When we find ourselves neck deep in a crisis what do we see?
I was neck deep in a crisis hovering over my two-year old daughter as she lay in her hospital bed. The pace of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit was intense, and I became acutely aware of my surroundings and the other children who were suffering.
The evening had been rough on Adalee. All she could do was lay in her stark, white hospital crib, which had adjustable rails on all fours sides. She had a multitude of wires monitoring her every breath and bodily functions. She had to go through multiple rounds of blood tests which were traumatizing for a two year old, and due to the anesthesia she was given for the MRI she got sick and vomited all over the both of us. After cleaning her up and calming her down Adalee was finally asleep. We had been in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit only hours when I had the chance to finally sit down. I began to try and grasp the idea our two year old daughter had suffered a stroke with no pre-existing conditions. We found ourselves neck deep in a life threatening situation, and had no idea what Adalee’s life would look moving forward. We had no answers, no reasons. Her body was broken, and with every passing minute she was losing function on the right side of her body. We were in a situation parents hope and pray they never face, and yet the Lord opened my eyes to the other children.
I laid down to try and get some rest, but the sounds of the PICU were deafening. The constant echoes of beeping grew to a dull, white noise, but it did not drown out the excruciating sounds coming from the newborn with RSV on the other side of the curtain next to us. The noises this sick infant made as it coughed will forever be embedded in my brain. It was awful and hands down, one of the worst sounds I have ever heard. It took everything I had not to power through the curtain and tend to the tiny infant curled up on its stomach. I knew acting out on motherly impulses would violate all kinds of hospital rules, so I chose to be rational and only took a peek at the tiny baby. Across the hall there was a room with glass walls where I could see what appeared to be a boy around the age of 11 or 12 who was in a coma. Hours earlier, when we entered the PICU, I noticed a group of doctors and nurses surrounding his bed side as they conducted some type of procedure. Hours later, when I finally sat down, the procedure had ended and the parents and family members laid on the chairs next to their son’s bedside. From moment to moment they would sleep, pace, and watch over him in hopes he would wake. I saw the scenario unfold, and still had room in my aching stomach to feel agony for these parents. In these surroundings the Lord ministered to me and gave me perspective. At least my daughter had been awake and had come out of her anesthesia. I knew Adalee was not going to die, or at least the thought had not occurred to me. Her circumstances were life threatening and completely unknown, but she was alive and had been aware of what was going on around her. Adalee may have been confused, but I could hold her and she would receive comfort in my arms. In that instant, God allowed me to have perspective, and perspective is grounding. Adalee was in a very serious state and could have lifelong issues and challenges based on what we knew from the last few hours, but I was not losing her. I was so thankful that her very serious condition was not worse. This perspective also made me feel humble and grateful that she was alive, and it offered me a sense of responsibility to pray for the boy across the hall, his family, and the baby next to us. During the the time Adalee was a patient in the PICU the boy did not wake. I often wonder about his outcome. My heart will always feel pain for his parents, and when I feel it I pray for them.
Sometimes our darkest hours seem to consume every ounce of hope. When we face our worst fears, and deal with heartache it is not always our natural instinct to seek and find a morsel of optimism. In our suffering is it easy to be consumed with our own pain, but we must find a way to look up. We can always count on the fact that there is someone who is dealing with something much worse. There is someone out there coping with pain we cannot imagine or comprehend. In these times, the Lord can help us to look beyond ourselves. It allows us to never lose perspective, and find ways to be thankful.
Perspective does not lesson the seriousness of our own difficulties, but it does allow us to maintain an outlook of being thankful that our situation is not worse. God always gives us a reason to be thankful. If anything, we can be thankful that God is always good, regardless of our circumstances.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever”.