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This morning I am praying for a mom, a dad, and their tiny newborn who is struggling for his life. Something is terribly wrong with his heart, and their hearts are breaking, too.
Everything came back in a rush when I heard it: the shock, the ambulance, the worry, the hospital, the heart-wrenching anxiety and pain. Twenty-plus years ago we were there with our son. Some of you reading this prayed for him.
I get out my Bible and there it still is: “Zane” and the date, written in the margin of the Psalms.
We had just watched them wheel our baby into the operating room and we sat outside the door, not realizing how long the wait would be. We didn’t care. I numbly opened my Bible for help and this is where it opened, to Psalm 33. “He who fashions the hearts of them all” caught my eye. A word from God to me.
My first reaction was anger. You made his heart this way? How could you?! I know God didn’t do that, but he did allow it. That stung. I read more: “The Lord looks down from heaven, he sees all the sons of men” (vss. 13). God is there, I thought. He sees my baby, he cares about us. I kept reading. “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death….” (vs. 18).
I read that over and over, clinging to it in my fear. And gradually I began to feel the Lord’s presence. I thought of Psalm 139, about God’s intimate knowledge and care of each one of us — even from the womb.
God loves this baby even more than I do, I realized. Even more – he entrusted this precious child to us. To Mark and me, to love and to care for as long as he might live. I can do that, I thought.
No child is perfect, just as we are not. And all children are gifts of life and love. It came to me that this is a privilege, to care for a hurting child who God loves. And that we will do, I determined, as long as he’s with us. I was suddenly filled with gratefulness and could thank God for the gift — for Zane just as he is.
“We wait in hope of the Lord,” Psalm 33 concludes. “He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”
I carefully add the new baby’s name to the margin of my Bible. We can’t always pray every Psalm for ourselves, but we can pray them on behalf of others. I remember how hard it was to think of anything but my fear. I will pray this psalm on their behalf and lift them to the Lord who loves them with a deep and everlasting love.
© 2018 Sarah Christmyer
“So then, my son, let whoever reads this Book of Psalms take the things in it quite simply as God-inspired; and let each select from it, as from the fruits of a garden, those things of which he sees himself in need. For I think that in the words of this book all human life is covered, with all its states and thoughts, and that nothing further can be found in man. For no matter what you seek, whether it be repentance and confession, or help in trouble and temptation or under persecution, whether you … are sad for any reason, or … want to praise and thank and bless the Lord, each of these things the Divine Psalms show you how to do, and in every case the words you want are written down for you, and you can say them as your own.”
St. Athanasius. To Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms