How do you trust God with your children when you get news that is unimaginable? Does he love us? Does he work all things for our good? If those things are true, then God can be trusted even when something is wrong with our child.
Walking into the building brought back so many feelings. The smells, the colors, the smiles from friendly staff, it all washed over me with a wave of memories. A smile crept onto my face. This was a place where miracles happened for me.
My kids and I had gone with Lucy for her first stress test. Her pediatric cardiologists had asked for her to do one around the time she turned 9 so they could see how her repaired heart functions under stress. They’ll know what “normal” looks like for her.
Lucy is my miracle baby. That’s her above, days before she had open-heart surgery at only 5-days-old. They lost her twice on the operating table when they tried to get the repaired heart going. And yet on this summer day she marched into this hospital full of life and energy, ready to take on the challenge of a stress test like she takes on most new things in life. There’s a reason we call her “Fearless Lucy.”
We were making a mini-vacation out of the trip. With one of my kids gone, the other two tagged along to explore the city and have fun at the zoo after Lucy’s test. I told them parts of Lucy’s story they didn’t know or remember. It wouldn’t all fit in this tiny blog but there are almost two dozen miracles—big and small—that cared for, provided for, and demonstrated God’s all-knowing and all-loving answers to prayer in my Lucy’s story.
I had called ahead to see if she could meet with her surgeon, Dr. James Hammel. I was sure he wouldn’t remember her. He was soft-spoken and kind and gifted. When he went to switch the misplaced vessels to her heart, her coronary artery wouldn’t reach so he fashioned an extension out of part of her pericardial sac on a heart the size of a walnut. He was glad to meet Lucy again, admitting he did have to look her file up as it had been so long. He’d worked on lots of babies since. He remembered her. He said it was nice to see one of his patients doing so well.
We also went to the PICU—the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit—where Lucy spent most of the first few weeks of her life. The nurse who greeted us told me none of the nursing staff would still be the same. This job is high stress with high turn-over. Seeing children with different outcomes than Lucy takes its toll on nurses. There was one doctor I remembered still there. Dr. Kelly came out to meet us and I could tell he was wracking his brain to remember. The more I talked, he did remember some. He chatted with Lucy and thanked us for stopping by.
I looked down the hall to the room that had held my baby girl, where I had spent countless hours waiting. Someone else occupied it so we couldn’t go down. I remembered each curve of the hall.
Lucy aced her stress test like a rock star. The guys administering it laughed out loud at her fearless enthusiasm. They said she was one of the best tests they’d seen—no fear, no worry, and no giving up when it got hard. Her EKG was perfect. She was so incredibly boring for a heart patient.
Lucy got a lot out of the trip, I hope. She heard more pieces of how God took care of her. She had some faces and places to put with the stories I tell her. This trip for me was a reminder of a time when I trusted God and watched Him come through in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I would never wish for anyone to spend time in a NICU or PICU. But my time in this place further solidified my faith that God can be trusted.
When the unimaginable happens to our kids, it can knock the wind out of us. It can shake our faith. How could this happen? we wonder. I think I learned that is the wrong question. Life is hard. Difficult things happen, sometimes unimaginable things like a baby on life support. But choosing to trust God even when it is dark and scary can bring hope and light into the moment.
There was a day, all those years ago, when God gave me a glimpse of this hope at the hospital. I was walking back to Lucy’s room from the breast pumping station. I sensed something that made me slow down. I passed rooms that were dark and felt so heavy. Some had curtains drawn but some had them open. But still they felt so heavy and filled with sorrow. As I rounded the corner to my Lucy’s room, there was such light and peace and hope. One of my sisters was leaning over Lucy’s bed, whispering songs to her as praise music played on a device. The sun shone in but more than that, God’s presence was there. It was only a moment but that memory of something more than physical stays with me.
Choosing to trust God with our kids when something goes wrong is one of the greatest and, I’ll admit it, hardest things we can do. But if you determine that God is love and that his promise to use everything that happens for our good is true, then moving forward gets a little easier. And then a little easier.
I will never take for granted that my Lucy’s story had such a happy ending. And my heart aches for the moms who do not have the same ending. But I believe that God can be trusted, even through something so incredibly hard and even if our prayers are not answered like we hope.
What was a time you had to trust God with your kids when it didn’t make sense? I’d love to hear more in the comments.