I caught myself pouting the other day, and I didn’t feel guilty about it. I was overseeing Jesher’s care as a nurse attempted to calm him down. Since being moved from a ventilator to a CPAP [Continuous Positive Air Pressure] machine, Jesher has been noticeably agitated. And I can’t blame him! The contraption requires him to wear a hot, cotton hat–outfitted with straps–to keep his mask anchored tightly to his face. The continuous pressure applied by the mask causes swelling of the eyes and inflammation of the nose. I’m not even wearing the mask, and I hate it! But on this day, the son was better than the father. Jesher just didn’t resign himself to pouting; he attacked his frustration with reckless abandon. With one hand, he grabbed the mask and flung it off his face.
My upside-down smile morphed into a mouth-agape scowl. I couldn’t believe it! Jesher got so mad that for four seconds, his skin turned green, his muscles bulged, and he growled instead of crying. My Lil’ Hulk was upset, and with every fiber in his being, Tiny but Mighty did what those watching him did not think was possible–he removed his mask.
“This little guy has quite the grip strength!” his amiable nurse affirmed. As she rushed to reinstate the loathsome device, she concluded, “He really hates this mask!” Within a few moments, his smiling care-taker overcame Jesher’s strength and successfully replaced the mask. My son tried once again to grip-and-throw his nemesis, but this time the nurse’s hand guarded the apparatus. All Jesher could do was cry and struggle. All I could do was pout and struggle, thinking: I wish I had that type of grip strength.
Lately, I have felt my grip strength waning. I have probably been counseled to “hold on” or “hang in there” at least 1,000 times since Jesher’s birth. I haven’t been offended by the advice, and I know that each person who offers this guidance means well. However, ‘holding on’ or ‘hanging in’ requires one paramount ability–grip strength. And my grip strength isn’t increasing. My wife’s grip strength isn’t improving. In this sense, Jesher is out-pacing his parents. As evidenced by this episode, our son is getting stronger. But while he seems to be gaining grip strength, the daily grind of this NICU life is draining the grip strength of his parents.
Here is Jesher’s current medical report:
PDA [Patent Ductus Arteriosus]–The doctor examined Jesher again this morning and gave us a 72-hour window before we need to consider surgery. As I have stated before, Lhorraine and I have adamantly petitioned God, asking Yahweh to deliver Jesher from needing any surgeries. The doctors have agreed to try one more round of indocin (also known as ibuprofen) to encourage the closure of his heart valve, but there are doubts that the medication will work due to previous attempts to treat Jesher’s PDA with medication. Now, we know that God must intervene if surgery is to be avoided. We need the hand of the Lord to close and seal Jesher’s PDA as He closed and sealed the door of Noah’s Ark (Genesis 7:16). FOR THE NEXT THREE DAYS, WE NEED YOUR FERVENT SUPPORT IN ASKING GOD TO CLOSE JESHER’S OPEN HEART VALVE SO THAT A TESTIMONY OF THE LORD’S POWER CAN BE MANIFESTED BEFORE DOCTORS, THERAPISTS, AND NURSES…WE ARE ASKING YAHWEH TO DELIVER OUR SON FROM THE PORTENT SURGERY.
I now understand why strength dwindles. It diminishes over time due to a sustained counter force that overwhelms ability and will. Previously, I thought weakness was the result of insufficient preparation or inadequate aptness. I see it differently now. Even the most prepared and capable person will weaken if the counter force is applied long enough. None of us have infinite strength; therefore, all of us will eventually succumb to any prolonged tribulation that does not subside–unless an equal and opposite redemptive force interjects itself. Which means, for the sake of our grip strength, we need a breakthrough, and we need it soon.
“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. But we [all] must hold on to the progress we have already made.” Philippians 3:14, 16