Hebrews 11:13 “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”
I lead a group at my church for moms of children with special needs. At the beginning of each meeting, we read a devotional that’s designed to center us on God before we begin sharing our hearts. Right now we are reading a devotional called Refresh: Spiritual Nourishment for Parents of Children with Special Needs written by Kimberly M. Drew and Jocelyn Green. After reading the devotional, we talk through discussion questions and anything else that is going on in our lives that only another mother of a child with special needs would understand.
Our devotional at a recent meeting for me was very insightful. It was titled “Sovereign Moments.” The story begins with Kimberly sharing her story about how her daughter, Abbey, came into the world. Because of the traumatic nature of Abbey’s delivery, it resulted in her having lifelong multiple disabilities. The doctor had written in his notes that it was because of “poor maternal effort.” Kimberly said what he failed to mention was that he was asleep in another room for almost the entire delivery and that right at the end of the delivery, he rushed in, looked at her vitals, and yelled, “Now!” A few minutes later, Abbey needed to be resuscitated. For many years Kimberly blamed herself while her family and friends blamed the doctor. She later came to accept that God could have intervened at any moment during the birth of her daughter and yet chose not to. Over time she grew to find comfort in the sovereignty of God.
Kimberly closes her devotional with this profound paragraph: “At thirty-five weeks pregnant, my dear friend Allison woke up from a nap covered in blood. She was rushed into an emergency C-section for a second-degree placental abruption. It was my obstetrician who saved her life and her sweet baby’s life. Mere men make mistakes in one moment and rise to do amazing things in the next. God is sovereign over them all.”
For me, prior to TJ’s injury, when a doctor entered the room, the heavens parted and the angels began to sing. I thought they were the smartest people on earth and knew all the answers. TJ spent more than a year of his short life in the hospital, and during that time, I began to view doctors very differently. Although most times I was fascinated by their brilliance, I also at times saw them as imperfect human beings like me who make mistakes, who do not have all the answers, who can’t undo a tragedy, who do not control life and death, and who are limited by only the knowledge God allows them to have. I began to realize that putting lofty expectations on them was unfair and should be reserved only for God. We knew there had to have been oxygen loss during TJ’s surgery, but his strange presentation after surgery along with an MRI that didn’t match his symptoms were a mystery to doctors, and after years of struggling to find answers, I finally came to believe that if God wanted us to know what happened, He would have given the doctors that knowledge.
Like Kimberly, our son’s brain injury and eventual death was caused by, in our opinion, a doctor’s mistake. Over time I too have also grown to find comfort in the sovereignty of God and that He also could have intervened at any moment during my son’s surgery and yet chose not to. Through the years, I’ve started to see the lives that could be won for Christ because of TJ’s powerful story, and I could also see God’s presence everywhere in our lives as He lovingly carried us during our unimaginable trial of suffering.
A friend of mine who is a nurse once told me,“Regarding surgeons, always listen to who the nurses recommend because they see the patients coming out of the OR.” We chose TJ’s surgeon because he was highly regarded in our community. We had heard nothing but wonderful things about him. He had done a lot of good for a lot of people. During the years following TJ’s surgery, I’ve seen many shocked faces from medical staff upon learning who TJ’s surgeon had been. I’ve come to the conclusion that this kind of surgical outcome was unusual for him. Even though my son’s surgery had a devastating result, I would still say his surgeon is a good surgeon. Although I didn’t understand it at the time, looking back I can see the look of pain in the surgeon’s eyes that first week as TJ rapidly declined, and even though it has been a process for me, I now have compassion for him.
I believe there were higher forces at work that fateful surgery day in 2013. I don’t understand it all, but I do believe God was in control that day. And because of the work that Christ did on the cross for me, I am forgiven, so, therefore, I can be obedient to Him and live a life of forgiveness trusting that He will make all things right in His time. I believe one day we will all see the far reaching effects TJ’s story has had for growing the kingdom of God. My prayer is that God will extract every ounce of good from TJ’s suffering and will use it for His glory.
What about you? Where in your life are you having trouble trusting the sovereignty of God? He says in His Word that He loves you and always has your best interest at heart. Take a step of faith today and trust Him. He will never fail you.