Yesterday, I watched my son undergo a procedure to biopsy his esophagus, stomach and upper intestines. Noah has been suffering for months from various physical ailments including gastrointestinal problems, headaches, insomnia, pain and a failure to gain weight. In the past week, he has endured three doctor visits, allergy testing, a biopsy and a great deal of pain and suffering. As I have walked through this with my son, my heart has suffered right along with him. As I stood beside his hospital bed and held his hand and talked him through an IV (he is NOT fond of needles!), my heart broke for him. I wanted to pull him out of that bed and beg them to take me instead. The pain in his eyes as he bravely endured all they put him through was almost more than I could bear. To hear him politely thank the people who were causing him pain made my heart swell with pride in him. To see his body lying unmoving on that bed after the procedure was over terrified me. I reached down and stroked his head and kissed his cheek, but he didn’t even stir. I looked up at the nurse in panic, and she calmly said, “He’s fine, just sleepy.” I wanted to say, “But are you SURE?” His beautiful dark lashes didn’t even flutter and he looked so very young and pale against his pillow. I wanted to gather him in my arms and hold him, even though he has long been too big for that.
As I watched him go through this experience that I longed to spare him from, I thought of another mother destined to watch her son suffer. I pictured this young woman, giving birth to a very special baby, in the very worst of circumstances. I imagined her wishing she was bringing him into the world with her mother’s assistance, in a clean and private room with everything she needed close by. I thought of her rocking him gently, holding him close and whispering of the future she envisioned for him. I wondered, “Did she know what was in store for her very special son?” Obviously, she knew that he was destined for big things…being the Son of God would seem to guarantee that. But did she know the pain and suffering that would be his? I think God must have spared her from knowing too much too soon. If not, how could she ever have survived? How could she have felt joy in his birth or in his growing up years? I believe God must have been merciful to her and not revealed all that her son would experience.
I imagined this same mother, thirty-three years later, watching her darling baby boy be mocked and reviled and then hung on a cross to die a horrible death. Her heart must have broken in two as she witnessed his unspeakable suffering. Surely she longed to take his place, to spare him from his pain. I’m certain her mother’s heart cried out to the God she loved, asking Him to take this anguish from her beloved son, to save him from this terrible fate. My heart aches for her, as I imagine her watching the son she cherished breathe his last breath. How did she ever endure such a thing?
There is one thing I know for certain--she could only have endured it by trusting in the Father who gave him to her in the first place. Even though she couldn’t possibly understand what God was doing, she believed. She believed that He loved her, and that He loved their son. She believed that He had a plan, and that it was good and right and just. How tenaciously she must have clung to that belief as she watched the drops of blood and sweat pour from the one she loved with all of her being. How doggedly she must have grasped that belief with all of her might while her son lay in his grave. How she must have rejoiced when she saw him again, and came to understand that God’s plan was indeed good and right and just.
All of this flashed through my mind yesterday as I stood beside the hospital bed of my sleeping son. Although I do not know why my son must suffer, I too, must believe that God has a plan for him. I must believe that the God who made him loves him even more than I do, and that He knows what is best and will bring good out of his suffering. He alone knows what Noah’s future holds and I must release him into the hands of Him who determines that future. While I will never be able to watch my beloved son suffer without my heart breaking, the best gift I can give him is to cling tenaciously to what I know to be right and true, and to teach him to do the same…just like Mary.
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