“We got the results back from Micah’s cystic fibrosis test. It was very positive.”
Late at night, in a dark, lonely hospital waiting room, Micah’s pediatrician delivered that devastating pronouncement.
Looking back, I’m so grateful he chose to say “very positive.” It left no doubt. No second-guessing. The only option was to move forward and confront this frightening new reality.
We were to check in to All Children’s Hospital — 1 1/2 hours away — the next day. Micah, 7 months old at the time, had to be evaluated and treated by a team of specialists. We had to be trained on how to care for him. I was numb. But paralysis wasn’t an option. We went about making the appropriate phone calls and arrangements.
No one could tell us with certainty what the future would hold.
By the time we completed all the paperwork and headed for Micah’s floor, it was almost nighttime. When you’re dealing with grief, the darkness carries a heaviness that makes everything seem even more depressing.
As we walked to Micah’s room, I noticed that each door had an animal sticker by the child’s name. When we got to Micah’s door, I spotted Micah’s sticker and immediately felt tears well up in my eyes.
It was such an insignificant thing. But not to me. It was a familiar little yellow duck with feathers sticking up on his head. We had decorated Micah’s room several months after he was born (poor, neglected second child!). By that time, Micah had a personality and a shock of white blonde hair that stuck up. I chose bedding with that exact duck because it reminded me of him.
It’s funny the things that God can use to speak to you. What He instantly said to my heart was, “I see Micah. I know him intimately. I am here.”
He confirmed that message a short time later. I was sitting in the room alone, when a sweet nurse named Mary Beth walked in. Without a word, she pulled up a chair next to mine and sat down. She took my hand and said simply, “Micah is the apple of God’s eye. We don’t understand why things like this happen. But He is here. He loves that little boy more than we can possibly imagine.” And she prayed with me.
In the middle of suffering, God was present. He was revealing Himself to me deeply in a way that I had not experienced Him before.
It’s in these kind of moments — during times of pain and suffering — that I understand the words of Nehemiah, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” I can find joy and strength in His presence, trusting He will “work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
The words of James 1:2-4 can be difficult to comprehend: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Who in their right mind would find joy in trouble and trials? And yet, over the years, I’ve watched God work powerfully in my life to build compassion, perseverance and strength …
when my mother died of cancer,
when our house was nearly destroyed by a hurricane,
when I’ve suffered physically with no relief in sight.
I have found joy in the deeper relationship with Him that they have achieved — and are still achieving — in me.
This type of joy goes much deeper than fleeting happiness. It is the unshakeable assurance that whatever the difficulty, I have an all-powerful Father who is there. Working for my ultimate good. Even when I don’t understand His ways.
He remains sweet and loving.
Willing to reveal Himself to me in a deeply personal way in the midst of my trouble.
And it is there that I can find joy.
How have you experienced joy in the middle of grief or suffering?
This post is part of our eight-week series, “Spirited Mom: A Fruity Look at Mothering.” We’re focusing on a different Fruit of the Spirit each week, as it applies to mothering.