Weak Man, Strong God: Lessons from Birds & Flowers
Published July 28, 2023
When Sickness Hits
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?… Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Luke 12:25-26, Matthew 6:34
When Katie and I first brought Liberty to the Emergency Room on November 22, 2022, there was no way for us to know what kind of season we were stepping into. Katie was just beginning her third trimester, and we were days away from Thanksgiving; and being fully immersed into the holiday season. Liberty started to present stomach bug-like symptoms the previous Tuesday afternoon, November 15. At first, we didn’t think much of it. We have experienced our fair share of stomach bugs and sickness with Liberty and the rest of our kids over the years. However, things started to get very concerning when Liberty wasn’t getting better. Instead of making progress and getting better, she continued to get worse and worse. By Tuesday morning, November 22, we scheduled an appointment with the pediatrician. She took one look at Liberty and told us to go straight to the emergency room. When we were first admitted to the hospital, everyone was extremely optimistic about Liberty’s prognosis and the expectation that we would be sent home within days. The Lord had other plans.
When Sickness Lingers
After one week in the hospital, Liberty still wasn’t getting better. We missed Thanksgiving as a family and our second week in a row of church. We started to see the shift in the overall nervousness of the nurses and doctors as Liberty’s illness ravaged her body. She had an upper endoscopy and colonoscopy completed by the pediatric GI specialist, which came with a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. The upper endoscopy also revealed her esophagus covered in thrush. That meant that she couldn’t begin her treatment for the ulcerative colitis until at least nine days of medication to get the thrush under control. In addition to that, the thrush was so unexpected that they wanted to do additional testing to rule out leukemia. I was brought to my knees in utter disbelief. We went from confidence and hope to shock and fear. My mind was swirling with questions. What would this mean for our family? What was going to happen to my little girl? How in the world were we going to get through this? After further testing, we were able to rule out leukemia. Praise God! But little did we know that our journey was just beginning.
When Sickness Teaches
Before we went into the hospital, I had recently studied Luke 12:22-34 with my Men’s Bible Study. We wrestled with the text and understanding how to war against worry and apply God’s principles to walk in faith and to seek first His kingdom. I was challenged personally with the utter futility of worrying. Is there any good that comes from being anxious? Jesus says no. But what about suffering? What about a season of unceasing anguish? What about unprecedented life circumstances? “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” I was confronted by the reality that my worrying doesn’t accomplish anything, and actually makes things worse.
After over three weeks at Banner Hospital, we were moved to the PICU to better accommodate our needs. At that time, I was going back and forth to the family lounge. In that lounge, was a beautiful picture of a field of flowers. My mind was flooded with the study from Luke 12. Not only does Jesus command His disciples to not worry and the utter futility of doing so, but He graciously comforts their hearts with a tangible example from nature. Look at the birds and how God feeds them! Look at the flowers and how God clothes them! He who created me knows how to sustain every physical, emotional, and spiritual need I will ever have. He counted every tossing from every sleepless night and has bottled every tear shed (Psalm 56:8) as my heart ached in grief. If the Lord cares for the birds and flowers, how much more will He care for his own people in their time of great need? It is an argument from the lesser to the greater. And the Lord compassionately and tenderly placed that picture in my path to remind me of that precious truth multiple times per day. Every time I was tempted to be consumed by our circumstances, I could look to my loving Father and remember His provision. It is His good pleasure to give me His kingdom (Luke 12:32); how much more could I trust Him to supply my every need in Christ Jesus? (Philippians 4:19)
My worrying wasn’t going to get us out of the hospital any sooner. Why wasn’t God healing Liberty? Why did she have to suffer so severely? How much longer were we going to have to endure this horrible trial? I didn’t have those answers. And worrying about them wasn’t going to get us any closer to relief. I don’t need to care and worry about what I can’t control because the Lord is providentially caring for my every need: what I can see and what I can’t! Every day, nature powerfully displays God’s kindness towards His creation. How much more will He care for a beloved son that He has loved with an everlasting love? God has secured for me a kingdom that cannot be shaken. One day, that kingdom will prevail entirely over sin, sickness, crying, mourning, pain, and death. Until then, I will look to the birds and flowers, and remember the cross. In God’s mysterious wisdom, the greatest tragedy creation has ever known was actually God’s most glorious triumph. Soli Deo Gloria.