First of all… some amazing news. Guess who has a family? Cheryl! You can visit her family’s blog to read more about their story so far and see lots of cute Cheryl pictures… who, by the way, is now going to be named Sophie. She was so cute today… radiantly happy all day long. There’s more good news brewing with some other kids, but so far this is the only one that’s official, so its what I get to announce today.
I needed good news today. Last week was hard… nothing out of the normal, just a long accumulation of pain, sorrow and suffering. The constancy of it hits me in waves… I’ll be OK for a while, and then it just catches up with me. Because it never. ever. ever. ends. Heart babies with bad diagnosis. Sad and hurting children. Difficult surgeries. Painful recoveries. You get the picture. And I HATE it. I can’t describe how much I absolutely HATE it.
True confessions here… this last Sunday we were at church and a woman got up to share about how God healed her daughter. And it was a miracle. A couple of weeks ago her little girl was diagnosed with a heart condition. The EKG came back as proof positive that she had this defect. The mother shared how terrified she was; how she’d get up at night and check to see if her little girl was still breathing, and how she prayed for her to be healed. And she was. This last Friday, they went for another EKG and more tests, and it came back with nothing. Her heart is perfectly normal. And so, we all praised God.
Except I didn’t.
I sat in my seat with my eyes welling with tears, and honestly I was angry that this little girl could be healed when Kerstin is blue from lack of oxygen and can’t walk across a room without panting. And she doesn’t have a mother or a father. No one to check on her in the middle of the night just to make sure she’s still breathing. So why don’t we just go ahead and add insult to injury.
A couple of weeks ago, someone left a comment on my blog. She said: I honestly don’t know how you do it. You have to be one super strong woman. I would love to volunteer for a month but I’m scared that I would be an emotional wreck by the end.
The truth of the matter is that most days
I am there’s at least a part of me that is an emotional wreck. I think if someone could come here and do this work and not be an emotional wreck, it would suggest that they’d forgotten their heart at the baggage claim or something. I think it is supposed to disturb us that there are sick children who will die without treatment. Sick children who don’t have mothers to rock them. Sick children who are dirty, hungry, abandoned, forsaken, and hopeless.
I know that generally I manage to keep the tone of the blog upbeat and happy. And it isn’t as if I’m misleading you… most days what overwhelms me isn’t the sorrow; it is the joy. The pure, absolute joy. But for the last week, the sorrow that’s always lurking crept up, and it culminated in church on Sunday with me sitting in my seat darkly wondering if God cares more for this woman’s little girl than he does for Kerstin.
I know many of you read this blog and think things like the commenter did — “Wow, they must be super strong.” We’re not. We’re incredibly weak. When I read that comment, I wanted to tell all of you that this isn’t who I thought I would be. I didn’t think I was strong enough to be around sick children. I didn’t think I was strong enough to live in a foreign country. On many days what I’d like more than anything is a house that I can decorate and an actual shower stall.
The same morning that I read that comment, I was reading in the book of Acts when Peter walks by the beggar at the gate. The crippled beggar asks for money. Peter says, I don’t have money. But what I have I give to you. I was deeply struck by those words, and it was at that moment that I realized this is really why we’re here. It isn’t because we’re strong. It isn’t because we felt like an adventure. All I am is an emotionally wrecked person feeling like a drop of rain in an ocean of suffering who daily says to God, “I don’t have much, but what I have I give to you.”
I said I daily say that to God. And I meant daily. That’s because it still isn’t my default. Most of the time, I’d rather say, “But what I have, I’ll share with my family. Or, “But what I have, I’ll save for my future.” Or, “But what I have, I’ll give to my friends.” Or, “But what I have, I”ll keep for myself.” You get the idea… I don’t want to say, “But what I have, I give to you.”
And by my own strength, I can’t say it. But, I have the example of Christ to follow, and each day He changes me to look a little more like Him. And isn’t this what He did on the cross? He didn’t hold back. He didn’t shy away from suffering. He didn’t escape or hide or do any of the things I would have wanted to do. By giving Himself up for us, He said, “But what I have, I give to you.”
My hope and prayer is that each of us will look deeply into our hearts and honestly ask God to reveal to us the answer to this question: Am I giving you what I have, God? In the face of the sorrow and the suffering around me, am I surrendering what I have to you?
And if the answer is no, I pray that something happens to open your eyes and emotionally devastate you. I pray that you will be wrecked. I pray that you will come face-to-face with pain so real that you simply can’t walk away and go back to the status quo. I pray that you will start the daily surrender of saying, “I don’t think it is much, God. And I don’t know what you can do with it. But here it is. Use me however you can.”
I promise to write more later… about where I think God is in all of this suffering, and if He does love the other little girl more than Kerstin. But, I am unbearably wordy, and if you’ve already read this much you deserve a prize. So, I’ll save the rest for another post.