This week I’m visiting the vast, remote South Dakota country where we lived when our son was born. I’m driving on roads that look like they stretch out forever over miles and miles of short grass prairie in a county with more pronghorn antelope than people per square mile.
Each day, I fight an irrational urge to travel the long miles between the tiny town of Camp Crook, where I am staying, and Rapid City. I’m tempted to arise before dawn and drive, scanning the road, looking for a 1980s era tan Chrysler K car. In my mind, I picture the intent, young father behind the wheel, a worried young mother in the passenger seat, and a small baby strapped into the car seat wedged between them. I imagine their eyes straying to the clock.
Wondering if they’ll get to the Rapid City hospital in time for the baby’s 8 AM appointment with the gastrointestinal doctor.
Wondering if the baby will ignore his empty tummy and stay asleep until they get there.
Wondering how the procedure will go.
Wondering if the procedure will do more good than harm.
I know the hunt would be fruitless. I know this family moved away decades ago. I know the baby is now a young man with his own wife and child. I know the father is now approaching retirement. But there is so much I want to tell that worried mother as she gazes at her baby. Her stomach a knot of anxiety. Her mind racing with questions.
Will I have enough breast milk to keep our baby alive?
Will he be all right?
Will the scar in his esophagus ever stretch out so he can take a bottle again?
Will we ever sleep through the night again?
Will all these medical procedures mess with his head?
Will I ever understand why God is allowing our baby to suffer so?
I want to tell this worried, young mother yes.
Yes, you will have enough breast milk. But like manna from heaven, never more than enough.
Yes, your baby is all right and will be all right. Because God holds Him in His hands.
Yes, your baby will one day take a bottle. He’ll one day be a little boy who loves macaroni and cheese. He’ll become a teenager with a hollow leg like other teenagers. He’ll even become an adventurous cook and an organic farmer.
Yes, you will sleep through the night again…but not for four more years.
Yes, the medical procedures will mess with his head. One day, he’ll need mental health treatment. But God will lead you to the perfect clinic in His perfect time. And the experience will be the most faith-building event in a lifetime of faith-building events.
And yes, you will one day understand why God allowed your baby to suffer. Not completely. But, like manna from heaven and breast milk for your baby, you will understand enough.
Enough to know God had a purpose for your life–and your son’s life, including his suffering–that is beyond anything you could have imagined.
Enough to know God can heal adults of what they suffered early in life.
Enough to know that God has used your child’s story to encourage other families.
Enough to know God is using your story to keep other babies from suffering.
Enough to know that though you wish with all your heart that your child’s infancy had been free of pain and fear, that you wish he’d been spared the mental wounds that marked his first 26 years, God takes even the hardest things and uses them for eternal good.
I check the rear view mirror for non-existent traffic, and my own reflection catches my eye. And there she is. The worried, young mother. No longer young. No longer worried. No longer wondering, but knowing that:
God is good, even when we can’t see His goodness.
God’s ways are good, even when we can’t understand them.
God’s plans are good, though they are beyond our imagining.
And like manna from heaven and breast milk for your baby, God is always exactly enough.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
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