It occurred to me the other day that we scheduled this thing for New Year’s Eve. What a way to ring in the new year, in the hospital. For 7 long years we have been looking forward to this day with more trepidation than expectation. December 31st will be bone graft day. As the parent of a cleft-affected child, we have had many surgeries, many related to the cleft, several unrelated. However, this next one is a big one. This time they will take a piece of her hip and put in her mouth to bridge her missing palate. While in there, they will sew up the last remaining gap in her soft palate, near the back. This is day surgery for most, but Brynna will return to the PICU for at least the night as a precaution. Happy New Year, Brynna!
Every time she goes under it racks my nerves. No one can prepare you for letting them go with the nurse back behind the doors. Behind the doors where you can’t control a stinking thing. You can’t protect her, you can’t hold her hand or stroke her hair. She is in the charge of some special people, oh, yeah, and God. I don’t mean to be flippant, but we really do forget that sometimes. He is there, comforting for us, healing for us, guiding the surgeon’s hands, keeping the anesthesiologist sharp and focused. She will be fine.
Here is the thing, though. Our culture has convinced itself that every time everything works out ok, when the tests are negative, when the healing occurs, when the surgery is over, when everything we prayed for comes true that this is precisely when God has been with us. “He was watching over me today”, we say. As if He wasn’t when we actually did hit the guy beside us on the freeway. As if He wasn’t when the baby wasn’t normal or wasn’t born at all. No, He’s always there watching over us, stroking our hair, protecting us, often from ourselves.
In a culture that has embraced the idea that suffering is to be avoided at all costs, we have as a bi-product, developed a view of God that only really is good when things are going well, and when things aren’t we are quick to ascribe that to someone more sinister. Truth is, God wants what is good for us. He loves us, after all. Sometimes when he allows us to walk deep, deep valleys he is patiently waiting at the bottom, arms outstretched, anticipating that moment when He will envelope us like a warm blanket in winter, rock us while we sob, take it when we curse Him, squeeze tighter when the pain is more than we can bare.
You see, Christians like to twist 1 Corinthians 10:13 and say, when speaking of trials and struggles, that God will not put on us anything we can’t handle. I disagree with that exegesis. That text is talking about temptation. Temptation to sin. Temptation and the common state of man. God puts situations in our way all the time that are more than we can bare. If we could bare them, we wouldn’t need Him. It is in our struggle, it is in our hurt, our pain our suffering that we find out His strength is made perfect in our weakness. His strength is what must carry us because ours is, in fact, not up to the task.
As we look forward to what Brynna will look like this time when she has her face re-arranged again, I can’t help but think of the incredible joy we get to see every single day as we watch the Lord continue to do mighty things through her, mostly in our own hearts.