"You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say, Lord
Blessed be Your name"
The lyrics to a familiar song were belted out all over the church. I knew the song Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman well. But on that day, I couldn't sing along. I was a young 25 year old, new mother in a spiritual and emotional battle.
A few weeks prior to this night in church, I was a completely different person. I was near the end of my pregnancy. I was close to God and optimistic about my future. I was working full time in a school and part time in youth ministry. I strongly believed in the love and goodness of God.
Then things changed. My daughter was born three weeks early and was flown to the nearest NICU hours after birth. In the NICU, we learned that our daughter had Down syndrome, a congenital heart defect that would require open heart surgery, and was in congestive heart failure.
She came home 10 days later on a round-the-clock feeding and medication schedule that no first time parent would ever be prepared for. Jaycee's Down syndrome was always the least of our problems. The hardest thing to cope with was her heart defect and its impact on her lungs, stamina, and overall health.
I went through almost 9 months thinking my child was going to be healthy. My prayers were always for a healthy child and delivery. I was stunned when Jaycee was born with her problems. I was even more stunned by how my faith was impacted by Jaycee's medical issues. Every new problem or concern weighed on me. I wondered where God was when my baby struggled, was in the hospital, and was being operated on.
And that was the condition I was in as I sat in church listening to that familiar song that I had previously belted out. I was at church because I was committed to God, but I didn't understand Him at the moment. I was mouthing words to the song because my heart was not wanting to fully join in the act of worship.
And I wrestled in my heart with God regarding how I didn't want to sing this song as I felt so alone and well..."unblessed." But, one line stood out to me as I had my internal conflict.
My Heart Will Choose To Say
I had a choice.
I didn't like that answer to the funk that I was in. I didn't want to choose to just trust God and believe in the goodness and blessings of Him. I wanted my daughter's situation to magically change and for my stress and worry for her to dissipate. IF things were different, then surely I would feel different.
Here's the thing I have learned 10 years into raising a child with special and medical needs. God is not necessarily the "quick fix" for every situation you have to walk out here on Earth.
When I rush Jaycee to the emergency room, I choose to pray on the way. As I sit by her hospital bed when she's sick, I choose to seek God. As I have had to listen to her breathing on a ventilator and lungs being suctioned, I can choose to thank God for keeping her here another day. And when the trauma is over and we are back home healthy, I choose to continue believing that God will be with us the next time too. A relationship with God is the blessing. His peace is the blessing. His promises are the blessing.
When you are going through a rough patch, your mind may question where God is and if He cares. An unexpected change in your life can make you feel totally lost and "unblessed." I know, I have been there. Do not entertain these thoughts. They will pull you down a path that you will get absolutely lost on.
If you are feeling not so blessed and a bit lost, remember that you have a choice.
You can choose to think differently. You can choose to love God when you don't understand your life. You can choose to find something good in your life when it's surrounded by bad events. You can choose to shut down the negative thoughts and stay focused on God.
What will you choose today?