God has abundantly blessed our family this February. About two weeks ago (on February 1), we received the news that a hole in her heart that had been there since birth, closed. The very next day, sitting cross-legged on my bed with her older brother bouncing on the floor nearby, Tirzah offered that same heart as a home for Jesus. I have marveled over how He filled a physical/literal hole in her heart one day, and then filled the spiritual hole in her heart the next. When He comes into a situation, He always improves it.
February 13 marks a significant anniversary in our family. I posted about it this morning on my author Facebook page, but I will share the text of what it says below as well.
Today is a special day for our family. On this day, three years ago, our two-week-old baby girl’s heart would not start beating again after a heart cath procedure. Three years ago today, the head of pediatric cardiology–who had maneuvered scheduling so that he performed her heart cath personally–worked to save her life. And three years ago today, God gave her back to us.
In her honor, here’s a brief snippet from the chapter of “But, Who is Jesus?” that shares her story:
“I was not prepared for how Tirzah would look when the recovery nurse arranged her in my arms. Her head slumped against me, and her unfocused eyes twitched across my face, like those of a dizzy child who had been spinning in a chair for too long. I studied her unnatural grin and tried without success to get her to nurse for the first time in twelve hours. The memory of her screaming into the anesthesia mask gnawed at me; and I could not help wondering if I would ever get my baby back from the dream-place she now inhabited. I could not help wondering if I would ever be able to explain to her why we allowed her to scream for us without intervening.”
I have almost forgotten the terror of those early days–a testimony to our Father’s redemptive faithfulness. When I look at Tirzah, I find myself picturing her as a mother with her own home to run one day without pausing; I was not always that confident, however. It is so easy in the dark places to wonder if life will always be a struggle. Walking from a miscarriage to an unexpected, potentially fatal diagnosis in immediately successive pregnancies made me wonder if I was broken. When I was sent in for a Level 2 ultrasound with my most recent baby (our fourth pregnancy, and first after Tirzah) and the doctors began speaking of a ventricular septal defect in his heart (a hole between the lower chambers) and a choroid plexus cyst on his brain, I almost made peace with the conviction that there is something wrong with me. Panic welled in my heart. Then, I heard Him.
“She laughs at the days to come.”
I wrote the following after I left that appointment:
I heard You there today,
When my heart careened,
And adrenaline twisted through;
There, where breathing shallowed and
Each muscle balled,
Bracing for bad news.
It was a whisper—
A mere fragment out of a thousand things
You could have said.
—”She laughs at the days to come.”—
Funny how proverbial observation can
In the voice of the Master.
The disaster of
The scheme of a man,
Unfulfilled before His higher plan.
Be still, my soul. Rejoice, my heart.
Be glad, my emotions.
He is good, and He delights in being good to His beloved.
It is so easy for me to look at my healthy, happy babies (my youngest is fine, by the way), and offer a complacent smile. When God is visible, when you press into victory, when faith proves reliable, and when you find some meaning to attach to your struggle, that frantic place inside settles and you find yourself forgetting how fiercely the battle raged.
My pastor made a powerful point in his message yesterday, stating, “You don’t question the teacher in the middle of a test.” When children take an exam at school, whining about a test/disrupting the class when the test is ongoing brings disciplinary reactions from school staff. Most of us learn that it is counterproductive to complain to a teacher about how hard a test is or the purpose of the test when the test is on the desk in front of us. However, we do not extend the same respect when God leads us through tests that build character and sharpen our faith. We cry and complain. We wail about how much harder things are for us than for anyone else. We demand to know the purpose for our struggle rightnow. And He remains patient, kind, loving, and unmoving, because He is trying to grow us up into spiritual maturity.
I am learning that God very often answers our “why” questions, but very rarely will He do so when we are in the middle of the trial. More often than I would like, His test is to see if we will remain steady even when we do not hear His answer. If you have not found at least a partial purpose in response to–“God, why?”–then chances are your test is ongoing.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23
Instead of pressing for the answer to “why,” invest your energy into the Answer–Jesus–to how to make it through. Cling to His faithful love, and know that in His timing you will receive (at least in part) an answer to “why” as well.