Three posts ago, I told you about the discovery that my son had cysts in his right lung in utero. Today, Colby Ryan is 6 1/2 months old. In the past two months, he has spent 26 days in the hospital, had three surgeries, and endured a lifetime’s-worth of blood draws, x-rays, IVs, and other necessary-but-painful medical generalities. He has been home for about 3 1/2 weeks now, and I am just beginning to come out of the fog.
I praise God for my son. I praise him for the surgeons that worked on him. I praise him for a hospital that listened to us as parents and cared for our family. I praise him for insurance (hallelujah!). I praise him for good scans and test results the past few weeks. Most of all, I praise him for caring about me, my wife, my son & my daughters, one family amidst the millions he’s created.
He cares for us. He cared for my tiny boy’s physical body.
One week after Colby’s final release from the hospital (he was admitted and released three times in all), I stood up to lead worship for the first time in six Sundays. Just as they had nine months earlier right after we found out about Colby’s malformation, the lyrics began to jump off the page. Only this time, I should have been prepared! Somehow, as I was planning the worship service and even rehearsing it, I didn’t take in the words that nearly made me a blubbering mess in the 8:00 service:
“My Great Physician heals the sick,
The lost he came to save.”
I know it’s talking about spiritual sickness, and maybe that’s why I didn’t get emotional singing it during rehearsal. But all the sudden, the allegory went away, and I worshiped him for his physical healing of my boy – through doctors, diagnostic technology, antibiotics, through the powerful common grace of modern medicine. It felt good.
Contrasting that was my encounter with God four weeks earlier. It was sometime around 3:30am. I was sitting in the recliner in our bedroom. Colby was laying on me sleeping, which was the only way he could sleep. We literally held him for a week straight because he would cry every time we put him down. We didn’t know what was wrong with him. He should have recovered by that time, and things were happening with his incision that shouldn’t have been happening. Filled with a pain I had never known before – that of a father who cannot relieve the pain of his son – I cried out to God, “Please, please make this go away. Please heal my boy! I don’t know what to do! It hurts so bad to see him hurting!”
God said, “I know exactly what you are feeling.” The image of Jesus on the cross stood before my mind’s eye, and God shared the tears I was shedding on my son’s cheek. The emotions are returning to me now as I remember that moment.
Two moments of worship, in profoundly different circumstances, with the same loving God.
Thank you for those of you who took a few seconds, a minute or more to pray for us. We knew God would bring us through this, but it was the hardest thing we’ve ever done.