Tears flow easily from my eyes as I begin to write this. There would be no point trying to hide that fact. Perhaps you have never seen me cry. Perhaps you think it is weak for a man to cry.
Or, perhaps I love my family a lot.
On Monday my then two week old niece Anne was taken to the hospital. No one knew what was wrong but she had a fever and was having seizures. On Tuesday when her condition worsened, she took an 11 minute helicopter ride to the Hershey Medical Center. None of us will ever look at those helicopters flying over our house the same way again. It was hard for my brother Nathan and his wife Elizabeth to part from their precious daughter, but the pilot affirmed that “she was in good hands.” Not only was she in the care of excellent medical professionals and pilot, but little Anne, as we often call her, was in the hands of a big God.
Immediately upon hearing the news hundreds of the best people everywhere started praying for sweet little Anne. The plea quickly went out for prayer using automated calls, social media, emails, phone calls, and texts. Emotions of hurt, concern, and compassion flooded the hearts of countless friends, family, acquaintances, and others. It sent chills through me to see and hear of so many earnestly praying, and even fasting, for Anne and the family. I can only imagine what God thinks when so many people pour their hearts out to Him on behalf of others. Surely He smiles in love. Surely He takes very special notice. Surely He cares and knows what is best.
I never expected to see what I did when I walked into Anne’s room. A tiny helpless baby, just over two weeks old, lying on a little bed with seemingly hundreds of tubes and wires connected to her. Constant beeping, squiggly lines on screens, and two or three nurses/doctors at her care constantly are enough to make anyone break down in most aching, helpless feeling possible. I couldn’t think of much else than to throw my arm around Nathan and cry and pray together.
This week as I sat in my cubicle I can’t count the times my eyes filled with tears and my heart cried out in ache. I told my coworkers, but even then I tried to limit the times they saw me with tears in my eyes. It’s times like this when nothing else matters. Nothing temporal, that is. The simple pleasures of life mean nothing when all you can do is pray and think about a hurting loved one.
I have been thanking God for people who are praying. I have asked God to bless all of you richly for caring, being a friend to Nathan and Elizabeth, visiting, and praying. I thank God for close families and friends. I thank God for bosses who understand. I thank God for state of the art hospitals, exceptional doctors, trained specialists, and loving nurses. I thank God for the ability to do so many different tests and monitor so much of the body. I thank God for the ability to diagnose problems and prescribe treatment. I thank God for such an exceptional medical center only an hour from home (http://www.pennstatehershey.org/web/guest/home/awards). I thank God for health, life, and salvation. And I thank God for tears, hugs, and tissues.
Last evening, my prayer was something like this:
“God, please be with Anne. Hold her gently in your loving arms. Bless her little body with strength and healing.
Please give the doctors wisdom and understanding. Let them take special care of Anne. Help them know what to do for her.
Lord, allow Nathan and Elizabeth to have peace. Let it be a peace from knowing that You are in control and love their little miracle even more than they do. Let it also be a peace from knowing that Anne is under the constant dedicated care of some of the best doctors, nurses, and medical technology in the world. Keep them from having a false sense of guilt because of their peace. Let the doctors and nurses see unusual strength, hear precious prayers, and feel a need to love You too. Richly bless Nathan and Elizabeth. Make them close to You and to each other. Help them never to quarrel over this, or have “if” thoughts. Keep them from blaming themselves or each other. Keep them constantly in your amazing love. Give them the power to accept your will for Anne. And God, thank you so much for loving little Anne.”
Lots of thoughts came to me this week, especially since I just taught a lesson on John the Baptist. John dealt with the same realities we face: difficult situations, unmet expectations, and limited perception. Jesus understands this. He knows we are helpless and unable to do anything except trust Him.
John the Baptist lived his life separated to God, like we as Christians try to do. He humbly pointed everyone to Jesus, while slowly his popularity shifted completely to Jesus. This must have been hard, but John still stood up for the truth. Unfortunately, Herod had to kill John before he was able to see Jesus do much of anything. It must have been a challenge. He never saw Jesus do miracles and teach thousands. He never saw Jesus die, and rise again, and he wasn’t there at on the day of Pentecost or in the church age to see this all being carried out. John asked a key question in Matthew 11:3-6: “And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”
Look closely at verse 6. It says blessed are those who do not reject Jesus because He is not what they expected and He did not do what they expected. Also, blessed are those who do not reject Jesus because he did not come through for them like we thought.
Heb. 10:23 “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”
At the time of this writing we do not know what is wrong with Anne. She remains in critical condition. Various tests have come back negative, as more are still being done. It is very important to keep praying.
Why don’t we have answers? Why doesn’t God just reach down and make her completely well in a split second?
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways, And my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Our minds are limited, very limited, but God is sovereign. Keep praying to and thanking little Anne’s big God. Our family really appreciates it!