The world of mental illness is filled with so much pain. Loneliness, fear, isolation. It can be overwhelming. I have heard from so many, "Where is God in this??!!??" I've asked that question myself many, many times. I often (usually) don't have ready answers, but I am convinced, deep in my heart, that God has not forsaken us. I read a story on Facebook today that reminded me to keep going back to the One who has my life and my heart in the palm of His hand, regardless of how bad my circumstances are. I don't understand. I've come to the conclusion that maybe I don't need to. He does. And that will have to be enough for me. I guess that's why it's called faith?
From the Facebook page of Long Island Youth Mentoring:
His name is Judah.
Can a broken heart coexist with extreme beauty?
This week I found it can.
Christine, my eldest daughter, went in for a sonogram one week earlier than she was supposed to. Something was wrong. She was 7 months pregnant, but looked 9 - her body so swollen with fluid she could barely walk. A doctor walked in. "Hi, Christine. I am your surgeon." Christine was taken aback. Surgeon? She had never seen this man before, and was not there for surgery. "We have to operate on the baby. When we do, he may have difficulty. If he does, do you want us to do an emergency C-section or just let him die naturally?" It took Christine a few seconds to allow the meaning of the question to settle in. "What do you mean? He has a name. His name is Judah." From that moment on, this doctor insisted his staff refer to the baby by his name. After four procedures, Judah had to be delivered. All looked like it was going well until the morning of his third day. Kay and I got the call at 5 a.m. Christine's voice: "Please pray. The next couple of hours are critical for Judah." Kay and I dropped to our knees beside the bed and begged for Judah's life. When we got to the hospital, we found that Judah was soon to be with the Lord.
The neonatal intensive care unit was buzzing. Five to six doctors and nurses were working to save our precious little Judah. Christine made it clear that if there was truly nothing they could do, she wanted to hold the baby and let him feel her warmth as he slipped into the Lord's arms. When they could do no more, they disconnected what they could and placed Judah in his mother's arms. Jason, my son-in-law held Christine as she whispered to their baby above the hum and beep of life-sustaining machines. Then Jason's tenor voice opened in that sterile room, and through strong, fatherly tears he sang:
And when I think that God, his son not sparing,
Sent him to die - I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou Art, how great Thou art!
I cannot describe the emotions, the power, and the beauty of that moment. I stood with my hands on my children, praying, while I witnessed them, with chests heaving sobs of excruciating pain worshipping and praising their King and their Lord.
His name is Judah, which means, "This time I will praise Him." I do not share this to boast about the faith of my children. I stood even in that moment knowing I was witnessing the impossible. I share this because I saw the power of the Spirit of God within two believers as they handed the little boy they loved to the Lord they trusted.
Only by the power of God . . .
"Call it. It is 9:47am." I knew that was the number that was to go on the certificate of death. The doctor who had been with them and performed all the surgeries walked in. His eyes were full of fear. He looked in the face of the lifeless baby and then into the eyes of the parents. "I am so sorry." Christine said, "Thank you for all you did to allow us to meet our son." The doctor took off his glasses and wept. All protocol was gone.
The next day Kay and I brought their other two children, our grandchildren, to the hospital. Christine and Jason wanted to tell them about their brother themselves. Little Jason is 5 and Abby is 3. Jason Sr. said, "Do you remember the recording of 'Jesus Loves Me' that you made for your bother?" They said they did.
"Well, when I heard Jesus was going to take Judah up to live with him in Heaven, I played it for Judah. No one on earth can imagine just how much Jesus loves them. But right after Judah heard you sing, he found out." Little Jason then asked two questions: Did Judah just disappear or did he float up to heaven? After his father answered that, he asked: Can I play with the buttons on the bed? I wish we adults could move on with the reality of eternity like children can. We instead ride a question-filled roller coaster of emotions. I am keeping a list of questions to ask the Lord. However, I am convinced that when we are in His presence, it will all make sense.
I once heard Pastor Gary Zarlengo say: "When the hand of God does not make sense, hold onto His heart." We cannot search the mind of God, nor understand how He may choose to move in the mystery of his sovereignty.
|Jason, Christine & Judah|
Photo from Long Island Youth
Mentoring Facebook Page
We do know the character of God, though. He is good. He loves each of us dearly. We are His children and he wants only the best for each of us. These are truths. But when our circumstances seem to contradict these truths, we can either doubt our perception or we can doubt God. We also know that we live in a fallen world. The place where the fallen world and the character of God meet is the place Jason took us in the depth of his pain - to the foot of the cross. It is only there that we can weep and still declare, "How great Thou art, how great Thou art!"
In spite of my own personal experience of living with the horror that is OCD, I can still say unequivocally that God IS good. It's just that sometimes our intense pain and suffering tries to convince us that He is not.