I can’t decide which is worse: a sick baby or a sick teenager. Of course, I haven’t had a baby in awhile, so my memories of those days are painted with cuddly nostalgia of the good times and gory war stories of the bad times.
If memory serves, one of the worst things about sick babies is their inability to communicate. How many times did I wish Jared, my one-respiratory-disaster-after-another baby, could have just given me one tiny clue. Are you making those whistling noises because your nose is stopped up or your throat is closing up? Which one? Tell me! Tell me!
And Lonna, who when she was three years old, I had to drive from doctor to hospital to doctor to hospital for almost a week, before I finally walked into the ER one last time and said that I didn’t know what was wrong with my child, but I wasn’t leaving until they figured it out. Turned out to be a good plan—she had an appendectomy the next morning.
How wonderful are the middle years, like six year old Hilary, who gives me the play-by-play of every bit of mucous and every hint of a discomfort. Who climbs up in my lap, even if she has to push me down into a chair to do it, telling me she needs a snuggle. Who swears that if we just get the pillows and blankets arranged in exactly the right position, everything will be o.k. And it is.
All three of my children and my husband are sick right now. My house sounds like we’ve adopted a family of barking seals, and the kitchen counter is littered with a pharmacy of medicines, waiting to be mixed in an alchemy of combinations for each person’s unique complaint.
Lonna is the worst. Poor Lonna. The first time I took her to the doctor was December 11th. She had already been sick for ten days at that point, so pretty soon, she’ll have been sick for two solid months. Three doctor visits, two urgent care trips, and four rounds of antibiotics have left us with a sore throat, turned into a sinus infection, turned into bronchitis with a hint of pneumonia.
And my fifteen year old child who never pauses to interject her opinion into any given situation and never ceases to talk, talk, talk in an often overwhelming, but always glorious, background music is now so silent. So impossible to communicate with. A sick child. A helpless baby all over again.
“How do you feel today?”
“Is it better or worse? Anything different?”
“Can I get you something? Do you want some food? A drink?”
“Can you describe what you mean when you say you can’t breathe? (Mentally measuring the difference between stopped up noses and stopped up lungs.)
“Grrr. Grrr. Leave me alone. I just want to go to sleep.”
My baby, my baby. I feel so helpless. So, I do the only thing I can do. I pray. I sit in the room the girls share in the night, juggling a flashlight and a prayerbook at the same time.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, how great is the multitude of those whom Thou hast healed. The blind have obtained their sight, the deaf have received their hearing, the dumb have begun to speak, the lame have walked. Who has run to Thy help and not received healing? We pray unto Thee: O Lord, heal this child who is suffering.
Canon to the Lord for a Sick Child
How helpless the feeling of not being in control. How beautiful the reminder that I’m not now, nor will I ever be, in control. No matter how old they are. No matter how sick they are. No matter how lonely or sad or confused or lost they feel, I am not in control of the lives of my children.
The world is a confusing place. There is much suffering. From a bad cold to a catastrophic loss. From the pains we can’t see in others to the sickness of soul we refuse to see in ourselves. The world is pain, because it is the world. There is no taming or understanding it. But there is faith. Faith in a God who doesn’t promise us we won’t suffer, but Who keeps the promise never to leave us alone in our suffering.
All things in life can be a vital piece of the working out of our salvation. Snotty noses, tragic deaths and disasters, and seemingly insignificant daily events. All things are good in the God Who is with us.
Lord, thank you for teaching me through this time of illness in my family. Thank you for humbling me and showing me what I lack. Have mercy on my suffering children. Have mercy on me. Heal bodies. Heal souls. We are sick indeed. Heal us from every infirmity. Glory to God for all things!