Back in September of 2010, my son Griffin said this,
I know one thing — trusting God. He made us; He loves us; He died for us. That’s why I go to church, to learn more about trusting God.
At the time, Griffin was a month shy of 5 years old. Talk about out of the mouths of babes!
You need to know – Griff isn’t some sort of theology prodigy. He isn’t some sort of special John-the-baptist child who leapt in the womb every time we sang ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus at church. No, he’s a normal little boy. He fights with his brothers over LEGOs; he throws a tantrum when his brother steals his sheep in Minecraft; he complains about unloading the dishwasher. Just a normal kid. But back in 2010, my husband, Patrick, was having some major health issues. He spent significant amounts of time in May and June of that year in one hospital or another. The children all witnessed two major shocks by Patrick’s implanted defibrillator – when he dropped what he was holding, screamed, cried and nearly fell over before I called 911. The word trauma doesn’t even begin to describe that!
During those days, when Patrick barely had two normal heartbeats in a row and the doctors were trying to control the crazy arrhythmias and the plummeting blood pressure, the children had a lot of questions. Nearly every day – and sometimes more than once a day – someone asked, “Is Daddy going to die?” I don’t believe in making promises to children that I cannot keep, so I would answer them honestly, “I don’t know. But I do know this – I know that God is in control, and He is good. He loves Daddy, and He loves us. And we can trust Him.”
Over and over again, I repeated those words to my children. I know that God is in control. He is good. He loves Daddy, and He loves us. We can trust Him. We can trust Him. We can trust Him.
It is no wonder, then, that in September, after months of hearing those words and in the days leading up to another medical procedure, another hospital stay, that Griffin would say, “I know one thing – trusting God.”
For a couple years now, we have enjoyed a new normal, as Patrick has settled into a fairly stable condition with his heart. What a joy it has been to carry on our very busy, very normal lives without feeling especially vigilant about a heart disease! The weight of concern about Patrick’s health has not been nearly so heavy. The swirling of medical terminology in my head has calmed. Our days are filled with soccer and diving and cheering and homework and business trips – blissfully busy with all the usual things. Those hard days of being in the thick of dealing with heart disease are a thing we have survived and learned from. Those are days I speak about or write about in the past tense. Now, in the present, we have had daily medications and check-ups, but the worst is behind us. Amen and glory hallelujah and great is Thy faithfulness! All that hard stuff taught us about trusting God, and now we’re on the other side and share those lessons with other people. Because We know one thing – trusting God. Right?
Except at the end of August, a routine check-up indicated that maybe our days of being especially vigilant are not all in the past. Patrick’s heart pumping function has decreased. He is officially in heart failure again. And, honestly, that sounds scarier than it really is. He’s not very symptomatic. He’s still carrying on with normal life – working, traveling, coaching soccer, driving carpool.
But I’ll be honest with you — this news was like a punch in the gut for me. So many fears rushed in, settling on my chest and across my shoulder blades. For several days, I longed to fix my eyes on God, to trust Him, but the fears were so huge, so overwhelming. I struggled to balance between being informed and being terrified, between being prepared and being paranoid. In one moment I felt strong and ready to go to battle again; but in the next, I just wanted to stay in my bed and escape to Netflix-land for a few hours. Preferably with a good stash of chocolate, you know?
Desperate to keep my eyes on God, I pored over scripture, reading and copying verses.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. . . . He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that strikes in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. ~ Psalm 91
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. ~ Psalm 34:4
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. ~ Psalm 56:3-4
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
And when I wasn’t reading scripture, I was reviewing the things I know to be true of God – He is in control; He is always good; He loves me and my family. A fearful thought would enter my mind, and I would combat that with the truth. Those fearful what-ifs would threaten to take me down, and I would remind myself that what-ifs are not truth. Exhausting spiritual and mental battles. I thought of that story in Exodus chapter 17. The Israelite army was fighting a battle, led by Joshua. Moses was standing on a hillside; and as long as he held up his hands, the Israelite army was winning, but when Moses’ arms got tired and he lowered his hands, Israel started losing. So Aaron and Hur got a rock for Moses to sit on, and then they held up his arms. And I thought of that story in Mark chapter 2 about the friends who carried the paralyzed man to Jesus so he could be healed. And the encouragement in Galatians to bear each other’s burdens. So I asked some close friends to pray for me, that I would feel God’s strength empowering me to do this battle of taking fearful thoughts captive and fix my eyes on Jesus. I needed my friends to hold my arms up in this battle, to carry me to Jesus so I could stand.
So here we are again in the thick of it. We’re still busy with our normal schedules and full calendar. We’re going about life with six kids. We’re just doing it with a heightened awareness about the functioning of Patrick’s heart and vigilance to do what we can to help it work better. And we’re going about our days with a heightened awareness of our need for God, a greater dependency on Him. We’re leaning into God more, trusting Him in a deeper way again, in a way that just isn’t necessary when everything is going well and we’ve settled into a comfortable normalcy.
And you know, when I am reminded of how these times of hanging onto God and leaning into Him grow my kids and teach us all, well, it’s hard to complain about that. I know how the hard times in the past have made us closer as a family and how those times grew faith in us. So here we are again with some unknowns and some fears around the edges of the future. But we know one thing – trusting God.
So that’s what we’re doing. Trusting God. He is in control. He loves us. He is always good. We can trust Him. I know this one thing.