Helplessness is the most difficult aspect of watching my son. Being relegated to watching Jesher struggle, fight, breath in, breath out, struggle, fight, breath in, breath out…and knowing that I can only watch, challenges my poise like nothing else. I can’t do anything! I can pray (and I am a full-time believer in the power of prayer), but prayer is so abstract. It is ethereal. And at best, it still requires me to go through a middle man. I, of myself, can’t do anything to expedite Jesher’s road to recovery, and this fact periodically challenges my composure.
On one recent occasion, my composure was losing a hotly contested boxing match with ‘discouragement’ as Jesher was fighting through a difficult moment. Difficult Moments in NICU are defined as periods when a baby’s vital signs dip for 2-10 minutes and require the intervention of a health care provider. I despise these difficult moments. They make me feel so week, so negligent, so useless. The best I can do is call for help and observe a nurse go through the checklist of possible causes until Jesher’s vitals rebound. I can’t do anything! And on this occasion, I also couldn’t calm myself down. With each alarm or flashing light, my anger increased. And the only person to blame was Yahweh. He let this happen. He knew it was going to happen before it happened. He saw all of my son’s difficult moments and did not arrest them. God has the power. God isn’t helpless. Yet, for my son, He didn’t eliminate the threat. This was Yahweh’s fault, and He was guilty of torturing me, my wife, and my son.
I began to internally lambaste God as the nurse worked. As Jesher’s abdomen struggled to pull-in air, I could see his tiny face grimacing due to the discomfort of another difficult moment. As Jesher squinted his eye’s, my brow furrowed with an utter distaste for God’s omniscience. Through gritted teeth and clenched fist, I challenged God with every fiber of my being: “You did this! You knew about this difficult moment decades ago, and you still didn’t protect my son! And now he is desperately looking to me for help, but I can’t do anything about it!”
Before I could finish my tirade against the Creator of All Things, God interrupted me. He was not rude or brutish. He didn’t intimidate me into fearful submission. All he said was, “Michael, I remember what that feels like.” The response was so unexpected and counter to my expectations that it immediately stymied the momentum of my anger. I couldn’t resist the empathy, and I knew God was right. He, too, watched His ‘only begotten son’ struggle to breathe. He, too, watched His ‘only begotten son’ squirm with pain. He, too, watched His ‘only begotten son’ suffer through difficult moments. But thus far, I had been protected, like Abraham, from experiencing the greatest pain of them all–listening to my son cry-out for me just before he dies.
The thought was so powerful that my emotions dispersed without protest. I realized that I was getting a glimpse into how tough the sacrifice of Jesus was on Our Father in Heaven. Previously, the cross had only triggered sympathy for the Son of God. But for the first time in my life, the cross became a representation of a Father’s great sorrow.
As the epiphany washed over my heart, I moved with reverence to the wooden rocking chair next to Jesher’s incubator. I sat quietly as if I had entered into an empty sanctuary. I fondly observed my son as I considered the story of another Father and His son. It is the story of a Father who decided not to step-in although He had the power to do so. He didn’t step-in for my sake. He didn’t step in for your sake. He didn’t exercise His power to alleviate His son’s heartbreak. Yahweh valued my heart over His own broken-heart. He stood over His son, crying searing tears while mean men with wicked motives tortured His only begotten. He wasn’t helpless like me; however, Yahweh knew how helpless I was, and through supernatural self-control, did not intervene during His son’s difficult moment: For “when we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” (Romans 5:6 NLT)
Here is Jesher’s current medical report:
BRAIN–Over the weekend, Jesher has underwent to Lumbar Puncture procedures. This procedure allows doctors to drain cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from his brain. This is necessary due to the swelling of Jesher’s brain ventricles. Due to the brain bleeds sustained during his delivery, Jesher now has blood clots that are inhibiting the natural flow of CSF from his brain to his spinal column. If the lumbar punctures cannot relieve the pressure that is building, Jesher will require brain surgery. It takes a few days for results of these punctures to return, so we are prayerfully awaiting word from the doctors concerning whether the lumbar punctures are having the intended effect. PLEASE ASK THE LORD TO CAUSE THE FLUID BUILD UP IN JESHER’S BRAIN TO SUBSIDE FOR THE HEALTH OF HIS BRAIN DEVELOPMENT AND TO AVOID THE NEED FOR BRAIN SURGERY.
BLOOD–Jesher’s blood and platelet levels fell again. He received another blood transfusion and is now working to build up his feeding once again. During his blood transfusions (which take 24 hours), he is unable to feed on breast-milk. This threatens the proper function of his liver and gallbladder which use the enzymes created by digestion to activate their processes. Due to Jesher’s high bilirubin levels, his blood transfusions are beneficial to his circulation but detrimental to the organs responsible for excreting his bilirubin. His blood transfusions often feel like a classic case of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” PLEASE PRAY THAT JESHER’S BLOOD WOULD BE HEALED IN THE NAME OF JESUS; PRAY THAT THE BLOOD OF CHRIST WOULD STRENGTHEN THE BLOOD OF JESHER.
HEART–Jesher’s PDA [Patent ductus arteriosus] is still opened. The doctors say that the ‘little muscle’ that is tasked with closing the hole is not strong enough to hold its position while the body secures the seal. Due to Jesher’s premature age, many of his muscles are still developing; therefore, they do not have the strength to perform their regular duties. Although the PDA did close, it did not have the strength to remain closed. PLEASE ASK YAHWEH TO SEAL JESHER’S PDA SO THAT JESHER’S BLOOD CAN CIRCULATE CORRECTLY, AVOIDING THE NEED FOR HEART SURGERY.
LUNGS–Jesher’s lungs are showing signs of improvement! He is not requiring as much support from his HFOV machine [High Frequency Oscillating Ventilator]. We are still concerned about periodic spikes in his carbon dioxide levels. Although his lungs are improving, his body is not yet oxygenating his blood with proper regularity. PLEASE PRAY THAT GOD WOULD EXPAND JESHER’S LUNGS WITH THE BREATH OF LIFE, AND DEFEND JESHER AGAINST ALL DISEASES, DEFICITS, AND DISORDERS.
My perspective on Jesher’s difficult moments have been forever altered. Yes, they are still quite difficult. I hate seeing him grimace and suffer. It is punishing to watch him writhe with discomfort. It hasn’t gotten any easier, but these difficult moments have become more bearable. No, I still have no further clarity on the ‘why’ behind the trial; however, I have a new and profound understanding of the ‘who’ behind this trial. I don’t serve a God that observes my pain from a high perch as a scientist might observe an experiment. I serve a God that knows what its like to be a hurt Father. I serve a God who has been “touched by my infirmities.”
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16