The last time I slept in a hospital I had just given birth to the little girl lying next to me. This time though I am filled, not with joy, but with fear. The third world hospital is different than the lovely mom and baby ward where I slept two years ago.
The little cherub next to me lies still; swollen eyes closed. The sickness has caused her beautiful face to redden and swell and my mother heart hurts when I look at her.
Tomorrow the Polish doctor will tell us that she needs surgery to get all the infection out. A simple procedure- anesthesia, incision, drain, antibiotics: infection gone. At 3 p.m. they will come get her.
It’s 3:30. We wait with her, her father and I. We grow frustrated, anxious; we want it to be over with. Finally they come to get her ready for surgery; she immediately begins to scream. We undress her and wrap her in a white sheet. Her daddy carries her to where they will operate. They tell us that one of us can go in with her until they put her under. He hands her to me. I tremble and tears fall as I put on the scrubs and hair net; still she screams.
I carry her in and lay her down on the table and stroke her hair and she cries for me by name.
I wait for them to mask her and for her to fall into forced sleep. After what feels like an eternity, her blue eyes close and the begging quiets. And I know it’s time for me to leave the room.
And suddenly I am Abraham and Isaac lies on the altar and instead of raising the knife in obedience I am screaming where only He can hear me, “NO, Lord! I won’t do it! There must be another way! This is too much.”
And even though I know my child is unlikely facing death right now, I’ve grown tired of this offering- grown weary of this sacrifice. Anything but them, Lord. Anything but my daughters.
Her father has walked outside- he couldn’t listen to her cries anymore. I sit down in the chair and weep. And it hurts. And my daughter is lying the next room, scalpel cutting skin, and I’m so tired and so afraid. Where is the ram, Lord? Put me down on the table instead; I’ll go willingly.
“Do you trust me?”
He whispers soft. I’m reminded of a movie I watched as a child. The boy asks with an extended hand to the princess, “Do you trust me?” She hesitantly says, “Yes,” takes his hand, and steps on to the magic carpet and they fly into adventure.
It seems silly to think about cartoons right now.
“Do you trust me?”
“Yes.” I muster the word with every ounce of faith I have, because the truth is that I’m running low; I’m grasping.
But I know He is good, I’ve seen it time and time again. So why is it so hard to trustingly take the hand again?
Because difficult days pound hard; sometimes they knock the breath right out of me. But then I think of the tree and how my Savior had to wrestle just to breathe- had to raise his battered body, nailed to a cross, just to catch air. And I remember too how he suffered, how blood and water flowed freely. I remember his words: It is finished.
He became the ram.
God’s son took my daughter’s place, took my place.
And I think too of the Father, how He watched his only son bleed and die. Did God weep that day? Did He cry when His son was beaten and bruised- when he laid Himself down on the altar cross and became the ram? How it must have broken His heart to watch his beloved suffer. But of course, He knew the end of the story. He knew that His son would rise up in 3 days, the enemy defeated- death itself defeated.
I know the end of the story too. I know that God wins, that Jesus has overcome the world. And I know that the journey gives meaning to our destination. Every trial, every tear, all the pain of the world make the nectar of Heaven so much sweeter.
Oh for grace to share in his sufferings; oh for joy to trust Him when He asks too much. He’s said that He works things out for my good- and their good too. I remind myself of this again. I can trust Him.