A few nights ago, I 'snuck' back onto fb to post something on a Coast Guard Officers' Wives group and my home page popped up with a picture of a tiny little boy named Easton. He had a pitiful expression on his face, his dark eyes penetrating the lens of the camera, speaking of immense pain. His downy brown hair crowned a precious face with chubby cheeks. He would have been considered 'perfect' if that's all you had seen of him. But the picture revealed more than that. starting at his neck and on the rest of his newborn body was covered in oozing open sores, blisters, and skin that had literally been peeled off like a tomato skin. I know that's graphic and, yes, my stomach turned into knots just looking at him. I burst into tears. The pain - both physical on his part and emotional on both his and his mom & dad's part. I cried for Easton as he is in unimaginable pain that meds can help provide a measure of relief but not entirely, for his mama who had yet to hold and nuzzle his sweet face and nurse him close to her heart. I cried for his dad, a factory worker whose job is in limbo if he doesn't transfer far far away soon and who already bears the burden of caring for three other small sons. That was on Tuesday night. I have been crying on and off and praying ever since. I sent an email to all the friends and family i could think of, asking for prayer and to help spread the word. I have awoken to that haunting image of little Easton lying in a baby hospital bed, covered in what looks like burnt skin, wearing what looks like a plastic dog collar around his neck to prevent him from further damaging his skin (that's what I'm assuming but it could surely be for some other reason). He should be in a soft cotton onesie, wrapped in a swaddling blanket, snugly sleeping in his mother's arms. It's not right. It's not fair. Why, God? I have wrestled lately with stuff like this, especially since I've become a mom. Now I am tempted to fear and worry about everything not just for myself, and for my husband, but now for my precious baby, too.
"It's not right." It isn't 'right' to see a small one or much less anyone suffering so much. But we serve a God who came as a small babe Himself and was brutally killed upon a Cross in our place, enduring excruciating pain and even more, the pain of being separated by His loving Father in Heaven. He promises to one day return to once again, 'make all things right'. That is my hope...for me, for Easton, for all the pain, suffering, injustice, terror, despair, and damage wrought in this world.
"It's not fair." I have to keep reminding myself (thanks to the Holy Spirit and friends around me) that, because of our sin, we all deserve to be under God's direct, just condemnation & punishment for all of eternity and because of sin entering the world in the garden, we now live in a fallen, broken world that's chock full of excruciating pain, loss, sin, hopelessness (apart from salvation), deceit, hypocrisy, cynicism, addiction, oppression, injustice, darkness, death...
being rich in mercy, sent Jesus. He's the catalyst to all the pain and darkness. He's the crux of all of life.
The beautiful truth is we actually don't get what we deserve. Yes, we are going to endure pain, witness pain, desperately wish we could take our precious child's pain (or another's precious child's pain) upon ourselves, so that they don't have to endure it any longer. But Jesus did that for us. He said, 'here, let me take this pain. this burden. I'll handle it. It's going to cost my blood being spilled and my very life but I do it for the joy set before me. I see the end from the beginning, you don't. Trust me, my precious treasure. I will take the pain. Trust me."
I am praying for Easton. I'm praying for miraculous healing. That when the doctors or nurses taking care of him go to change the bandages, they would see new baby skin growing and protecting his body. They would see NO sign on infection. Like Naaman, Easton would be 'dunked' into the healing waters of the Spirit's activity in his little hospital room and come out whole, clean, and healed. I'm also praying that if this is not what God intends for this little guy, that He would take him quickly to be with Him. I am praying that the Gospel would go forth in a mighty way in that hospital, through that family and their friends, to the staff, to the community, to the world. I'm praying that God would sovereignly place doctors, specialists, and nurses across Easton's family's path who know and love Jesus. And that they would share Him with them in a humble, yet bold way. I'm praying that I could somehow catch a better glimpse of the sovereign workings of God in more of life. I don't want to drown in anxiety, in fear, in despair about situations like this or like so many other terrible reports that bombard our tv's, ipads, laptops, ears, hearts, minds. I want to fix my faze upon the One who holds the cure for Easton, for me, for you. He's the great healer not only of bodies but of heart, minds spirits, souls. He came to 'bind up the broken hearted', 'to set the captive free', to heal, to transform. He is Hope. He is Life. He is Love.
'Beauty from ashes.'
My one friend shared this phrase in reference to Easton's testimony during Bible Study yesterday. It stuck with me. Much like how we are formed from the dust and to the dust we shall return, and how when our bodies die and our souls depart into eternity, we become 'ashes'. But, in Christ, that's not the end of the story. He takes beauty from ashes.
Whether those 'ashes' be a disease like Easton's or a broken relationship torn apart by sin, or the passing of a beloved father, grandfather, and great-grandfather (thinking of a very dear friend, pregnant with her firstborn son, who just lost her grandfather yesterday), the sudden tragic death of a young expectant mother in the wee hours of the night (a childhood friend whom I still love and think of to this day), regrets carried around like dead weight in your heart, words sharply spoken that you wish every day when you wake up that you could swallow and take back, choices made in the crazed follies of sin that you beat yourself up for, cut yourself for, or drink yourself into oblivion for. Jesus wants to take those ashes and turn them into beauty. That's what He came to do.
The essence of the Gospel is beauty from ashes. The mission of the Gospel is hope, healing, redemption, transformation of something broken, full of pain, dead, torn apart, and ugly and making it into something fixed, healed, free, alive, whole, beautiful.
So I'm learning, through many tears and prayers, that this life is greater than what we can see with our eyes if we could only look up and gaze upon His face, where true beauty and healing lies. Because of the person, life, and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, there's more than the temporal suffering, pain, death.
That hope is the anchor for my soul. That hope is what I cling to when praying over these tiny 'butterfly' babies lying helpless in hospital beds, children who should be fighting with their brother or sister over blocks and learning how to ride a bike with their dad instead battling cancer and simply fighting for their life and learning how to hold onto hope.
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."