What a Waste!

On the eve of cancer surgery, John Piper wrote an article called “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” that challenges us to look for ways to mature through suffering. He also concludes that any word could be inserted in place of cancer, unique to whatever suffering we may be facing. I agree that Annie’s heart defect is something that we never want to waste.

And so here’s the humbling, hard, intense truth from his article:

  • We will waste Annie’s HLHS if we do not believe it is designed for us (and her) by God.
  • We will waste Annie’s HLHS if we believe it is a curse and not a gift.
  • We will waste Annie’s HLHS if we seek comfort from our odds rather than from God.
  • We will waste Annie’s HLHS if we refuse to think about death and eternity.
  • We will waste Annie’s HLHS if we think that “beating” it means her staying alive, rather than us cherishing Christ in the process.
  • We will waste Annie’s HLHS if we spend too much time reading about congenital heart defects and surgeries and stories and not enough time reading about God.
  • We will waste Annie’s HLHS if we let it drive us into solitude instead of deepen our relationships with manifest affection.
  • We will waste Annie’s HLHS if we grieve as those who have no hope.
  • We will waste Annie’s HLHS if we fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.

I’m afraid that I’ve already wasted it in so many ways: when I grieve so much over the unknown instead of trusting God for her and our future, when I read countless articles of other testimonials and only a few Bible verses here and there because of how numb I often feel, when I’ve quoted the positive odds of the successful surgeries while sarcastically comparing them to the odds of her even having this congenital heart defect.

May it never be true that our gift of Annie be wasted because I wanted life another way.

“Anything that causes us to depend on God is a good thing.”

Dear God, What Were You Thinking?

Have you ever felt like something happened in your life that God must’ve missed. We know He’s omnipotent and omnipresent and all those other church words, but aren’t there still times when you feel like those are just words on a page in the theological dictionary 101?

I’ve wrestled with this feeling a lot since we received Annie’s diagnosis. I have screamed one question through steamy tears into my unanswering car windshield, groaned into silent pillow cases many nights, and shouted bitterly into the innocent water drops that are supposed to wash me clean each morning. “Were You just asleep for a few minutes while her left atrium and ventricle were supposed to be forming?! Too busy that day?! Out golfing?! What were You thinking?!”

And you know what? Even though I’ve asked more times than I can count and countless questionings are still to come, I haven’t gotten an answer…not one that I like anyway. Because He hasn’t told me what He’s thinking. And He probably never will. But I’ve seen Him working in it.

Sometimes when I ask God why I have to wonder if my daughter will live, why it has to be my child, why our family, why, why, why…He reminds me that He knows what it’s like. He’s been there. He sent His son to earth as a sweet, tiny babe all the while knowing that in 33 short years He’d have to watch Him die and pour out His full wrath on this very own son of His. God knew the prognosis when He made the plan, when He asked Jesus to come to earth to die for my sins and your sins. To rescue the world because we cannot rescue ourselves. To redeem us for His glory and His purpose.

And then I find myself humbly asking again, “Dear God, what were you thinking?” How could He love me so much that He’d give His son? For me– doubting, questioning, quivering– me.

I still don’t have answers, but I cling to truth. He will never leave me. There is a purpose, and I don’t have to know what it is to trust in my loving Heavenly Father. He proved that He is good that day, centuries ago, when His heart broke for His child so that I could become one of His children too.

I know that His mercies are new every morning, and every evening I recount His faithfulness. Because each day, even in the midst of this, He is faithful and I can celebrate.

You’re in Good Hands

If you know me, you know how linearly I operate. I see a challenge, devise a solution, create accomplishable action steps, and start immediately toward the end goal of success. I have proven to myself and others that I have the cognitive and emotional veracity to overcome a plethora of excruciating challenges of all kinds.

This however is a challenge that I cannot plan, devise, and strategize into a favorable outcome. Yikes! I have never encountered this before. I stand almost in denial that there is and will be nothing I can do to help Annie. Since there’s nothing that caused her HLHS diagnosis, there is literally nothing I can do to cure it.

As a mother, this is a heart-wrenching reality to face. I have nightmares about her lying there in her NICU bed needing to be comforted in the way only a mother can and I will be debilitatingly helpless. In some ways I know it will take everything in me to not charge in, swoop her into my arms, and whisper to her (and me) that everything is okay. My doula told me that a good mother does what is best for her baby no matter what the sacrifice is on the mother’s part. And so I know that in those moments of helpless heartbreak that are ahead, I will do what a good mother should. I will sacrifice my desire to hold her and comfort her, knowing that she’s in the best place she can be.

One particular day that I was wildly wrestling with this staunch reality, my friend (not knowing any of my struggles that day) sent me a verse: Isaiah 66:13, where the Lord says,  “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” So, Annie, even on those solemn days of recovery where I cannot have you in my arms, you will be in excellent care. You will not miss the comfort of a mother. Even better, you will be comforted with a love richer than any love that I could ever fathom for you. God, the powerful God who made the entire universe, will be your comforter.

“You will be safe in His arms. You will be safe in His arms. The hands that hold the world are holding your heart.”

Annie, you will be in good hands!