Sometimes you can read scripture and struggle with it’s meaning. Sometimes you know what it means, but somehow you really don’t KNOW it in the depth of your soul. Somehow, sometimes, there is a disconnect. So you ask for wisdom and understanding.

When our Sam was born at 3 1/2 lbs, size was not his obstacle.  He was pending open heart surgery in a couple months and we had barely enough time to process the blessing of Sam and Josiah coming home, let alone his pending surgery.  On October 24th, at 4 months old, Sam had a very successful open heart surgery. As he lay in the PICU bed, Sean and I kept feeling over whelming gratitude as well as immense guilt.  Why guilt? Well, we were about the only ones with a success story in that PICU.   On all the beds surrounding Sam, children were dying.  Family and friends streamed passed our little Sam sobbing, blank faces, overwhelming grief.  Occasionally they would stop at Sam’s bed to see this tiny, little baby. They’d ask and it was almost hard to answer.  So we began to ask God, “what do we say to these families? While their child is dying and ours is not?”  His answer….Psalm 46:8 “Come and see the works of the LORD.”  So we wrote it on a piece of paper and put it on Sam’s bed for all to see.  We spent the rest of our days in that PICU loving and encouraging families, hearing their stories, and sharing in their pain.

Little did we know that God had chosen that passage to be Sam’s life theme! Many of you who know us are aware that last year Sam spent all of December in the PICU again.  This time his lungs collapsed. As we were swirling with emotions, and trying once again to grasp the severity of each day.  God turned our hearts once again.  In each bed surrounding Sam, children died.  Wrenching tears and cries you could hear through the walls came down like rain.  Again LORD? we asked. As if it wasn’t overwhelming enough to deal with the fact our son was having great trouble coming off the vent and was looking seriously at a trache to breathe. Our troubles seemed so tiny in comparison.

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you, my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary, and beheld your power and your glory, Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live.” Psalm 63:1-4

We KNEW more than ever the deep, deep truth of the Psalms.  Now we read the words and they jumped off the page right into the depths of our hearts.

Sam (and Sean- who never left his side) came home home on Christmas eve. 25 days that seemed like 25 years!  What an Advent!

As Advent begins this year, I cannot help but remember last year, as well as 7 years ago, when our holidays were spent in the PICU at a Children’s Hospital.

Sometimes people ask us why bad things happen. There are so many reasons, but let me share a few.  God has increased our love for our son, increased our gratitude for doctors and hospital staff, God has given us great perspective on how quickly life can end, God showed us how to receive blessing from friends and family, God rearranged our priorities, God has shown us greater grief and need in the lives of those around us, and His Word is more ALIVE in our hearts because of it.

Take time this Advent to look back at what God has taught you over the years, and give thanks. A BIG RESOUNDING THANKS!  And ask God how you can give to those who need it more than you. Did you know that most PICU’s allow people to come in and play music for the sick children? They let people come and sing carols. You are allowed to come in to the PICU and give gifts to children and families and hospital staff (just no food). The same is true in nursing homes and adult living facilities.

May your gratitude abound this Advent for the Great and Marvelous Works the Lord has done in your life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!