The headlights on the road beneath blurred together. I was looking down from the seventh floor at DeVos Children’s Hospital in a quiet area for parents. My heart was anything but quiet. Three weeks in ICU had turned my emotions into a paper-thin, fragile thing.
Our three-year-old son, Calvin, received a tracheotomy last week to help his collapsing airway after a long bout of illness. We were ready to bring him home but were set back by non-stop seizures and tremors. I’d reached the maxed-out-point of seeing my son in pain and couldn’t bear to see him poked repeatedly as they tried to insert yet another IV in order to give his seizure medication. Between each unsuccessful attempt the nurse would come and get me and bring me back to give a little comfort and try to console Calvin between pokes and seizures. This continued for hours.
Have you been there? A place where you are helpless, alone, afraid? I felt guilty for my lack of ability to comfort Calvin. For my weakness of not being able to stand by one more time. I sat down far above the road rushing below and prayed through tears to the One who always stands by.
He never is overcome to the point of inability like I am. I bend under pressure but He stands strong, ready to save, ready to be a refuge. I see pain and want to run away, distract myself from its reality. Jesus sees pain and enters it, he sees our deeper soul-pain that’s rendered us helpless and weak and becomes the remedy (Is. 41:17).
It wasn’t the first time I’d shrunk back. It seems I’ve been recoiling and shrinking back for three years now. Recoiling from the fear of hearing my son had damage to his brain, shrinking back from sleepless nights and the reality of another day. Feeling helpless and devastated when the term Severely Multiply Impaired was added to Calvin’s IEP.
And then this week. Not only recoiling from Calvin’s pain but from the pain all around me in the ICU. A mother thrashing herself against the wall as her son succumbed to a head trauma. I could no longer bear to witness the agony and closed the curtain. The brokenness of humanity, and the pain it causes, is too much for a mere human like me to bear. But there is one who never shrinks back. Divinity itself clothed in humanity–sympathizing more than any other human could (Heb.4:15).
God looked from on high at the sin-sick devastated world and decided to enter it. To save us from the trenches of despair. To take hopeless and traumatic situations and infuse life and redemption right into the heart of it all. He takes death-cursed ones and breathes life. He takes broken relationships and offers healing in Him. He takes kids with pain and distraught parents and lifts our eyes up to His power provided to us in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). He takes tired parents and fainting believers and increases their strength for one more day. And he never tires or grows weary with it all (Is. 40:28, 29)!
While I run to the quiet area to regain strength and composure in the face of loss, Jesus runs headlong into the pain. He wept and grew weary in soul. He paused over the city, and wept. But then he moved on, ready and able to conquer. When we would retract He goes forward. He goes to the cross, to conquer death and to make satisfaction for our sins.
I need this conqueror of pain. The conqueror of my heart, of weak escapees like me. He brings all things into subjection under him–my son’s pain, my turmoil, our sadness. He conquers. And so we lean on Him hard, and in the leaning His presence fills us with joy and contentment, He is our rescuer.
An hour and a half later they finally were able to secure an IV line. I stood by his body while the medicine coursed through his body causing burning sensations. He writhed on the bed, unable to speak and filled with agony. My heart broke as I stood by, again unable to comfort and felt the groaning in my heart, come Lord Jesus. Come quickly.
You and I may sometimes be forced to drink a cup of bitter sorrow, but we have every reason to keep hoping in Him. Because Jesus took the cup the Father passed to him, and drank it to the dregs, there’s no more lasting sting for believers. Our situation might continue to be dark but I know this is but one battle of a war that has already been won (Rom. 8:37).