Friday, April 03, 2009

A different kind of hope

How do you make a decision to let go? How do you give up on the hope you've held on to, that everything will be okay?

The doctor told us there was no hope. He said that even if, by some miracle, Abigail pulled through, she would be blind and have severe brain damage, perhaps even needing serious medical intervention just to live day to day.

I told Loren that I wanted another opinion. The other NICU doctor had always said more encouraging things from the very beginning. In fact, hearing from him was so different that I had my own names for these two doctors: Dr. Hope and Dr. Gloom. It was Dr. Gloom who sat us down and told us there was nothing they could do. But Dr. Hope had told me that Abigail's brain was young and still developing because she was born early. I wanted to believe that he meant she could be fine.

While I slept, Loren went and talked with Dr. Hope.

As I was waking up, I couldn't bring myself to move. I was tired, scared, and hurt. Lying on that little cot, I was separated by only a black curtain from other parents who were feeling all the same things. I didn't know their stories, and I barely recognized their faces. None of them had babies in the NICU, I knew, because in the 5 days I had been there I had never seen another parent come to be with their tiny babies.

I thought about the day before, when we heard a voice come over the loud speakers. "Code Blue, P.I.C.U....Code Blue, P.I.C.U" I thought about how I had walked toward the NICU a few minutes later, and there were nurses walking past us with red, tear-stained faces. We knew what had happened without even asking. They had held death at bay for as long as they could, but ultimately it had come. I had felt relieved knowing that my little baby was showing signs of improvement every day.

That was yesterday. Today had brought the death of my hope. I told God that I would still love Abigail even if she was severely handicapped. I knew He could hold us through that. I imagined our lives being redefined by the presence of a child who would never really grow up. I was ready for that. But I wasn't ready to let go.

Loren came and got me. He wanted me to go talk to Dr. Hope. When the doctor's eyes would not meet mine, I knew I didn't want to hear what he had to say. What he said didn't matter, and I can't even remember the words. It came down to this. Death was going to come to our baby girl. They could not say whether it would come in days or weeks, but it would come soon.

I would like to say that I immediately accepted this as the will of God for our lives, but I can't. I wanted to shut it all out. I wanted to fight. God could still heal our baby. I knew He could. No matter what the doctors said, Abigail's fate was in God's hands. He knew the plans He had for her.

That's what finally hit me. He knew. He knew what the plan for her life was. Verses started flowing through my mind, washing over me with peace. I started thinking of that old hymn, It is Well With My Soul: When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul. At the time, I did not know the story behind that song, but it ministered to me.

I had forgotten that my hope was in Him. I remembered the story of Job, and how he had said, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him." (Job 13:15) I prayed that God would save her life. That He would let us keep her. That He would miraculously make her whole. I would give Him all the glory, and praise His name. But if His plan for Abigail did not include a long life on earth, I would give Him all the glory, and praise His name.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him. Ps 62:5

I remembered something said by Oswald Chambers. "No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first." I committed myself then and there to dive into Jesus and find my soul's satisfaction in Him. Then my love for Abigail would be safe. Her life, and my hope, was His.

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