In many ways it made perfect sense that he was screaming, “I hate you! I hate this!” at the top of his lungs. After all, it was I that was holding him down while he was being inflicted with pain. This was not the first time but one of recent many. The “I hate yous’” were becoming more frequent and also more painful to hear.
There was one particular time however that is forever etched into my memory. Noah was 5 years old and I was sitting on the edge of his Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) bed, holding him tight in my arms so he couldn’t move, while the nursing staff changed his PICC line dressing. This was something that had to be done on a regular basis. Due to Noah’s genetic syndrome, he has more hair than a typical child. Tape and tegaderm are one of the things he absolutely hates the most because it really hurts coming off. He was crying, screaming, and looking me straight in the eyes. I knew he didn’t understand why I had to be a part of this painful process, preventing him from fighting back and allowing them to do what they were doing. He didn’t understand that he had to go through this so he could be healed. The nurses were silent as he cried and quickly did what they had to do. In my calmest voice possible, I just said over and over, “I’m so sorry; I love you so much.” What nobody saw or heard that day was at the same time my son was screaming, my heart and mind were screaming just as loud, and I physically felt sick from it.
“God, I hate this!” “Why are you allowing this to happen?” “Make this sickness stop!”
After the procedure was over I was able to loosen my grip and sit him up. I hugged him and rocked him back and forth as I comforted my child. Kissing him gently on the cheek, I repeated softly in his ear, “I am so sorry. I love you so much! You are such a tough little guy.”
In his whimper, he then said to me, “I love you too mommy.” I knew he never truly hated me. It was just his plea to be allowed to fight back when the pain started, an attempt to defend himself.
A few moments later, a man from our church, whom I respect greatly, walked in and sat down. I wasn’t aware, but he had come to visit right when the procedure started and choose to wait patiently in the hallway outside the room. While waiting, he wasn’t able to see what was happening because the curtain was drawn shut, but he heard the whole thing. After sitting down he said to me, “How do you do it? How are you able to be a part of this over and over?” With downcast eyes and a shattered spirit, I responded quietly, “You do what you have to do.”
The truth is, I was a complete mess inside and was barely hanging on. Noah had been in the hospital for a few months by this time after a life threatening illness. I was probably at one of my lowest points emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I knew that others were experiencing more difficult things in life, even within my own extended family. Because of this, I was finding it very difficult to communicate my feelings or this depth of isolation with anyone, and it became a private struggle between God and me.
One night as I lay down on the pullout bed in the PICU, I knew that I had to hang onto my faith. I knew that I needed to pray, even though I was finding it very difficult to even do that anymore. Sometimes, I would allow several days to go by without taking the time to speak to God. Partly from pure exhaustion on so many levels, but also from a frustration that had made its home deep within. Speaking to God in the midst of some of the roughest days was something that I choose to leave to others to do for us. That particular night however, as I lay quietly, the stillness in the room was filled with the alarms of the machines going off. The only words I could muster were, “Dear God, Help.” Those 3 words became a frequent prayer of mine after that, but I understood that was all that was needed to be spoken.
Romans 8:26-28 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself interceded for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
In the days that followed, there were many more procedures and crying, and my heartstrings would be tugged and pulled on very hard. However, a new grace-filled realization started to cover me that would eventually bring me peace.
At one moment later on, I found myself holding my son during another procedure and hearing him scream to me “I hate this!” Calmly, I started to gently tell him “I’m so sorry. I love you so much! You’re being so brave.”
I was trying to explain to him that he had to go through this so he could get better; all the while I was quietly questioning God at the same time. Suddenly as clear as if I was hearing the words out loud myself, I too felt the Spirit gently say to me, “My child, I love you so much! I know you don’t understand, but you need to go through this. Trust me, it is part of my great plan for you and if you allow me to do my will, I will turn this pain into good and for my glory!”
I needed to hear and feel those words at that moment. But even more than that, I needed to believe it.
Are you in a time of life where you need to hear God tell you that He loves you, despite the pain you are in? I can tell you, He does! GOD IS LOVE. Maybe you already know this but do you actually believe it? Do you find yourself fighting back? Do you need a little comforting in life? Let me remind you of this promise:
“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…” Isaiah 66:13
You know, life doesn’t make perfect sense. At least it doesn’t to us. But you are His child and you are being held tight in His hands. Hands that love and can heal for His glory.