Monday, May 23, 2011

The Hospital Trip that Wasn’t

Carly was sick the week before Mother’s Day. It was a simple cold. But nothing is ever really simple when your child has special needs. For example, at 13 years old she doesn’t know how to blow her nose. Congestion creates mouth breathing that brings a dry throat which becomes sore and then she quits eating or drinking. Dehydration comes quickly so she’s very vulnerable to contracting a bladder infection which means a couple of days in the hospital. Without assertive caregiving and prayer, the domino effect of something “simple” wreaks havoc.

It’s taken us a handful of trips to the hospital but we have gradually learned how critical it is to stay on top of Carly’s hydration at the earliest signs of illness. Yet even our best efforts aren’t always enough. I have come to realize that God designed it that way. If our best efforts were enough, we wouldn’t need Him. Periodically, He needs to leave us hanging out there in the pit and mire so we will remember how dependent we are on Him. More importantly, we remember how dependent we can be on Him.

When we went to bed on the Saturday evening before Mother’s Day, Larry and I recognized that a day intended for pampering mom was going to start with several hours in an Emergency Room with Carly on IV fluids. We simply hoped those few hours wouldn’t stretch into days on IV antibiotics as well. I will admit that our faith was small. We went to bed ready to make the best of no ordinary Sunday. We were praying for an overnight miracle but hunkered down for the likely conclusion.

The next day, Carly dismissed our offers of juice and water but gobbled up two cups of mandarin oranges. By lunch time, she was eating like a trooper and by early afternoon she was eagerly accepting any beverage offered. Breakthrough! This was the miracle we prayed for and it brought such great encouragement that day. It encourages me again today just remembering it.

Since God doesn’t always answer prayers exactly the way we expect, it can be tempting to quit asking and quit hoping. This experience was another reminder that God wants to hear the desires of our hearts — wants us to keep asking and asking boldly — and also wants us to keep trusting Him to answer in the ways He knows will be best.

In one of my favorite Psalms, King David wrestled with His emotions before God and ultimately landed on encouragement and renewed confidence. His spirits shifted because he put His focus on God rather than his problems by persistently reflecting on the ways God had been faithful in the past. Psalm 77 says:

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.

Reflecting on the greatness of God put the size of David’s problems into perspective. It also reminded David of how deeply and personally God cared about him. We can learn a lot from his example.

LORD, I want to take a few moments right now to recall the times and ways that You have heard my heart’s cries and met my needs in surprising but perfect ways. Thank you that, when I do this, my hope and trust grows because I appreciate Your power and wisdom to do what is best, no matter what the answer to my prayer looks like. Help me to embrace life as an adventure of anticipating how You will surprise me next with Your faithfulness. Because of Your power and love expressed through the cross, I can trust that Your purposes will prevail in Jesus’ name. AMEN

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