March 10, 2012

A Father's Helplessness

Psalm 23

One early morning in 2006, when my daughter Amelie was just 4 years old, my wife and I heard a blood-curdling shriek no parent ever wants to hear coming from their child. It was about 4 o'clock in the morning. When I heard my daughter's high-pitched scream, both my wife and I shot out of bed and ran to her bedroom, which was next to ours. She writhed in her bed as she cried, clutching her right side.

When she saw me, she yelled, "Daddy, make it stop!"

My wife asked her, "What's wrong?"

"It hurts!" she screamed as tears ran down her face.

I scooped her in my arms and took her to the car. My wife followed behind. She drove her to the emergency room. I stayed behind because we had four other small children. As my wife sped away in the dark morning, all I could remember was my little girl pleading, "Make it stop!"

In the living room, I fell to my knees and cried out to God, pleading with Him to save my little girl and to have the doctors find out what was wrong with her. I had never felt so helpless. My daughter needed me and I couldn't even help her. In that moment of begging for God's favor and mercy, I couldn't think of Scripture to guide me through my prayer.

After waking up the other children and getting them off to school, I drove to the hospital. In the emergency room, my wife told me that they thought it was appendicitis. She was very young and the doctors said that while uncommon, it happens. The pediatric surgeon explained the risks involved in the appendectomy and the risks of general anesthesia. She could die from complications from the burst appendix, or go into a coma from the anethesia, or possible die from the sleeping gas. As they wheeled her into the surgery room, my wife and I prayed over Amelie and then kissed her.

My wife and I hugged each other as we saw our daughter disappear behind the surgery doors.

We sat in the E.R. lobby for what seemed an eternity. Nothing was said. My wife had her eyes closed as she prayed. I couldn't pull my thoughts together, so I pulled out my pocket Bible from my jacket and began reading Psalm 23. I whispered it to myself, "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want."

When I heard my own voice, it sounded shaky, broken. I didn't realize how scared I truly was at the possibility of losing my daughter.

As I repeated verse 1, it occurred to me that I had never considered the phrase, "I shall not want." until that moment in the hospital's E.R. waiting room.

My Father in heaven knew what I wanted; I wanted my little girl back in my arms. I wanted her healthy. Yet, in the first verse of Psalm 23, David says that the LORD is his shepherd, he shall not want or lack because God the Father provides for him.

You see, I knew that God was a provider (of food, health, safety, etc.). But up until then, it had been an intellectual understanding. It wasn't a matter of the heart. Until that very morning of February 2005. When I suddenly realized how God provided life and was the giver and taker of life (Job 1:21) that I realized that Amelie wasn't mine; she belonged to God (Psalm 127:3).

It was then that I prayed outloud to God and, as I did, I cried to Him and told Him that I loved Him, that I acknowledged that Amelie belonged to Him. I asked that He let her live, but that if He took her home to be with Him, I would understand. I told Him that I would continue to love Him no matter what His decision was, but to please consider giving her back to me because I loved her. I ended my prayer but saying, "In Jesus' name. Amen."

Friend, the previous paragraph might've been easy for you to read, but it was the hardest prayer to pray for me. In my selfishness and pride, I wanted Amelie with me. Yet, I had to surrended my desires to God to let Him that His will, and not mine, came first. You see, once you recognize who God is in all His power and glory, you really have no choice but to submit to authority.

If for some reason you are angry at God because things didn't turn out your way then, I'm sad to say, you really don't know Him at all. In Isaiah 55:8-9 , He says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

When the surgeon came out from behind the swining doors of the O.R., he told us that Amelie was in post-op recuperating just fine. I looked up heavenward and said, "Thank You, Jesus!"

We thanked the doctor and as soon as we were allowed, we rushed in to see our four year old daughter. As she slept, there weren't traces of tears on her face or any contorted expressions of pain, only the placid rest of a tomboyish girl who liked to collect ants, ladybugs and praying mantises and then bring them into her bedroom unbeknownst to us.

I was (and continue to be) a powerless father. But, I have a Father in heaven who is omnipotent. For when I am weak, I am strong through Him (II Cor. 12:10). God can do all things. And He does them well (Mk. 7:37).

How about you, Reader? Have you put your trust in God? The only way to a real and meaningful relationship with God is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

Here's how to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ His Son: The Plan of Salvation

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