May 9, 2012

God's Kindness ... in a Nutshell

As many of you know by now, our family got a significant scare this past weekend. On Thursday, Tobey found a large, firm, black, immovable lump on the roof of Elisabeth’s mouth. An immediate visit to our very reliable family clinic revealed only the baffled comment: ‘We’ve never seen anything like this before.’ At least they were honest! But the lack of answers left us in for a bit of a long weekend, wondering what could possibly be wrong, googling the possibilities (not recommended!), and waiting until our specialist appointment on Monday.

Well, on Monday, with lots of your prayers behind us, we made our way to Children’s Hospital, thankful for the careful attention we have come to expect from that hospital that is such a blessing to our city … but also a bit nervous about what the news might be. After a few brief looks in Elisabeth’s mouth, the doctor (in a delightful Kiwi accent!) stated: ‘I don’t think that thing grew there, I think it’s wedged there. In fact, it almost looks like she's gotten hold of an acorn!’ And so it proved to be!  Dr. Rutter pulled and poked a little, and voila, all was well – leaving us praising God, and laughing with tears in our eyes all at once! 

We honestly thought it might have been a cyst or tumor.
Relief!  Only a piece of an acorn.
If we hadn’t been so thrilled and relieved at the outcome, I’d have felt a little sheepish passing along the good news to our friends and family. We were all upset – and had some of you quite worried, too – thinking it could have been cancer, or something requiring major surgery … and all the while it was only a measly acorn!

But, as I process the fears, and prayers, and google searches of the past weekend … I think there are some distinct lessons to be learned from the great acorn fiasco. Here are a few that come immediately to mind …

1. Never be afraid to ask for prayer. Do we feel a little silly now, having riled everyone up about something that turned out so minor? Maybe a little. But I’d much rather feel silly for having sounded the prayer alarm over a sky that was not actually falling, than to have failed to sound it at all, only to find out we were in seriously deep waters! Plus, no request is too little for God. If He cares for the sparrows, then He also cares about the acorns, and certainly about the little girls who, against all odds, have jammed them into their hard palates!

Furthermore, it has also occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, God really did do a miracle.  Tobey and I looked at and felt that little black bump several times ... and three different doctors looked at it on Thursday, without anyone suspecting it was an acorn.  Did God take what was actually more than an acorn, and turn it into something so simple and easy to correct?  Was there a miracle hiding under that little nut that Dr. Rutter pulled out of Elisabeth's mouth?  I don't know for sure.  But the possibility of such a kindness is marvelous in my eyes!  And I'm thankful, therefore, that so many people prayed!

2. Thank God for family – church and biological. How many people prayed for us this weekend? Hundreds, perhaps. How many people offered to watch our other kids, so that Tobey and I could both be at the hospital with Elisabeth? More than I can count on one hand … and at least a couple from out-of-state! Two friends actually came on Monday morning, leaving behind homemade pizza and a tasty dessert for our dinner!  Another friend brought a roast.  From others we borrowed cars and car-seats, received cards in the mail, and so on … all in just a four day span! God has truly blessed us! And we have been reminded, again, of why He created us to thrive, not on our own, but in families and churches.

3. Life is short. For about 96 hours, fearing cancer, the possibility loomed in front of us that we might lose our daughter. Thankfully, it was much ado about nothing. But the thought of her mortality rebuked me for having been less diligent than I ought to have been, even at her young age, to speak to her about Jesus. And that makes me mindful of how diligent I ought to be to speak to others, too … each of who will someday soon pass into eternity. Elisabeth (and all four of our other children), though given a clean bill of health this Monday, will all someday surely die. And when they do, only the Son of God will be able to carry them to the Father’s bosom. So let me take every opportunity, while I still have the chance, to fill their ears and hearts with the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

4. Our children belong to God. This was a point of wrestling over the few days between Thursday and Monday. Elisabeth is ours. But, even more importantly, she is God’s. And, in prayer, we had to put her in God’s hands this weekend, trusting Him to do with her as was best in His sight. Thankfully, what He saw fit to do was quite agreeable with our own wishes. But even if He had chosen to do otherwise, she is still His to do with as He pleases, for His own glory. Our children belong to God, much more so than to their parents.

5. God is good. I literally had this thought, not less than a week before we found the lump in Elisabeth’s mouth: ‘God has been so good to us. Here we have five small children, and not one of them has had any significant health problems.’ And that is true. I say it again today, after the relief of this past week. But over the weekend, I was forced to ponder whether I would still say that ‘God is good’ if one of my children had cancer, or was forced to have potentially deforming facial surgery. And the answer was the same. God is good, regardless of what my circumstances make me feel.

The cross of Christ, of course, is exhibit A. No one, standing in the midst of the events of that dark Friday, could have felt good about the circumstances. But God knew what He was doing. Everything that happened was part of a wise, good plan. And so it is on all the dark days of our own lives. God knows what He is doing, and He always does what is best for His own. I affirmed that this weekend (albeit somewhat weakly), under what proved a very minor test. Pray that I will affirm it (and that you will, too), when providence deals me something harder to swallow than just an acorn.

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