In different times throughout my life I’ve struggled with the idea that the God of the entire universe truly cares for me. Sure, I believe He loves me, as in, He loves all people and that’s why He sent His son to die for us. But does He really care about ME personally? There are so many people with so many other bigger problems than me, why would He care about my issues? Does He really care about the details of my life?
This question became even louder, however, when I watched my baby suffer for almost three months in the hospital. Prayer is one of those topics I have a really hard time understanding and grasping. When we found out at our 20 week ultrasound that Joshua had health issues and would at the very least have only one arm and one working kidney, I was so scared. I have always had faith in God and I trusted that He would help us get through whatever lay ahead, but I was also terrified, because I knew that just because God was in control, didn’t mean He didn’t allow tragic events to happen. Just because you pray for safety for your loved ones, doesn’t mean God will always protect them. God being in control doesn’t mean He doesn’t allow His children to suffer.
Hundreds of people were praying for Josh since that 20 week appointment, and after that appointment were many, many more, that left more questions than answers. When Joshua was born, we thought our questions would be answered, but instead we kept getting more and more surprises. God seemed to be distant and silent when we prayed so much for Joshua, and then we found out he would not only have only one arm, but that his only arm had no functioning thumb. After that we found out that he would also be mostly blind, if not completely blind. His list of anomolies grew and grew. It felt like God didn’t care. Why wasn’t He answering our prayers? My father in law made a comment that it felt like all of our prayers were hitting the ceiling and coming back down. Ever felt that way?
After we wrapped our minds around those bits of news, we became hopeful for his future. He passed his hearing test and his MRI came back normal. Good news! Then we found out at 6 weeks old that his trachea was so narrow, he only had a chance of surviving with a risky surgery. Our prayers were answered though! He came out of the surgery alive and despite a 6 minute CPR episode a couple days after surgery because of a freak accident with his tubing, he continued to heal over the course of the next several weeks. I armed myself with a file folder to organize all of his health records and information and appointments. We had to follow up with the cardiologist, pulmonologist, ear/nose/throat doctor, cleft palate surgeon, optometrist, opthomologist, GI, kidney, pediatrician, geneticist and orthopedic surgeon, along with many therapists along the way. The future was scary and overwhelming but he was coming home! God answered our prayer of his coming home. I thought for sure that God wouldn’t let Joshua live through all of that, to just die. Then just a day and a half later, I was handing my baby over to the coroner.
Wait, what? Why? Why would God let an innocent, precious baby, suffer for 79 days in the hospital, only to die after a day at home? What was the purpose? Was there a purpose? Did God even care? Why does God perform miracles on some babies, yet God didn’t seem to intervene in my baby’s life? I’ve struggled with this, because deep down I know God cares for us and that He cared for Joshua. The only answer that makes sense to me is that God allowed Joshua to live at all because it’s all part of a bigger story, a bigger plan, that I may never know, until I get to hug my son again. It’s made me want to search the Scripture for evidence of not just a loving God, but a God that cares deeply for each and every life. Here’s what I found:
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”
This is proof to me that God not only cares for humanity as a whole but for each individual, because He is willing to go after even one that is lost.
More proof is the numerous prayers God answered throughout the Bible, prayers of individuals. One example is that He sends an angel to deliver a message to Daniel and the angel says that Daniel’s words were heard and he was sent in a response to them.
“He said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words.”
How many angels are fighting on our behalf? Verses like 2 Kings 6:17 inspire me. In these verses, an army had come to surround and overtake Elisha and his men,
“And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
I am so curious to what we don’t have the eyes to see around us. My mom said that she always imagined two angels surrounding Joshua in his crib in the NICU. I think that is a very real possibility.
Luke 12:7 “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
“8 You keep track of all my sorrows.[a]
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.”
God didn’t answer our prayers for Joshua’s healing, but I choose to believe, by what I know about God and His character and what He says in His word, that he still cared about Joshua and He was still with him and God cares about our hurt and our grief. I always felt guilty about Joshua being alone in the hospital when no loved ones were there with him, but it hit me in church last week, he was truly never alone.
God was with him. God was with Him. With him in the middle of the night CPR episodes. With him in those operating rooms. With him as he took his last breath at our home and with him, as he passed from his broken, earthly body, into his perfect heavenly body.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (NIV)
I hope that if there ever comes a time when God doesn’t answer your prayers, you can find a little bit of comfort in knowing that He still cares for you and this isn’t how He wanted this world to be. I don’t believe God wants babies to die from sickness and I don’t believe He ordains mass shootings. God allows us to suffer in this sinful world, but He is with us. That is the greatest promise we have, and now when I pray for others, the very first thing I pray for, is for them to have peace that passes understanding. Because no matter what happens, if we have God and His peace and His hope, that’s everything.