"I will lead blind Israel down a new path, guiding them along an unfamiliar way.
I will brighten the darkness before them and smooth out the road ahead of them.
Yes, I will indeed do these things; I will not forsake them."
It was dark outside the fourth floor window of the children's hospital in which we were staying. The seasons had begun to change and the wind that had once blown sweet, spring coolness when we first arrived was replaced with stifling, North Carolina heat.
I had made a habit of taking a selfie in the reflective glass of the window that sat just outside the elevator doors as I made the trek to my vehicle each night. As I waited for the elevator to arrive, I snapped a shot of my silhouette, heavily burdened by a backpack, pumping equipment and residual disappointed from the day that was coming to a close.
Darkness, outside the window and shadowing my future, was a common theme in those days. I hadn't realized how symbolic the picture that I took each night would be. Weighed down and looking out at the darkness, never knowing what might come next, only assured of the promise that I would never be forsaken.
Six months later, I sat in the cardiac ICU with my son, who lay motionless a few feet away, connected to a ventilator. I had only known my special needs baby Avery to be sick and needy, but hearing the nauseating sound of the ventilator's hiss coming from the bed where my perfect son slept was unfamiliar territory.
Again, the sky was black. It would be hours before the sun rose that day and two years before the sun would rise again in my life.
Six months later, Avery's bed was dragged into the hallway with all the other patients as the tornado sirens blared. I was returning to my room at the Ronald McDonald house for a shower when the sun disappeared from view and darkness descended as the clouds churned above.
We were advised to stay in the halls until the storm passed, but I couldn't be separated from my baby who was barely recovering from sepsis, so my husband and I foolishly drove back to the hospital and raced to her side.
That car ride was unfamiliar again. I had never seen lightening like the flashes of light that shattered the sky that afternoon, nor had I ever before heard the alarms that sounded across the campus.
The past three years have been wildly unfamiliar. I have been blindly following the voice of Jesus through the darkness, into the wilderness, into places I've never been nor seen anyone else go.
His instructions to me have always been simple: Trust and know.
Trust that He is good and know that He will never forsake me, even when the lightening cracks and the wind whips and it's too dark to see the next place I may set my foot. Know that He has smoothed the ground where I will go and that He will not let me stumble or fall. Trust that He will indeed do what He promised.
I wish that I could tell you that on the other side of your infertility journey is a bubbling, biological baby - I can't promise you that, but I can promise you that He is making the way for you. Abundant life has always been and always will be yours, purchased for you by the Blood of Jesus.
I wish I could tell you that those cancer cells will die and your physical body will walk away from this battle - I can't promise you that, but I can promise you that He is weaving a legacy for you that will have the last say, whether you remain on this earth or return to dust.
I wish I could tell you that your child will harness autism. I wish I could tell you that the seizures will stop, that the dyslexia will pass, that the world will accept your differences, that your love will return. I wish I could tell you that the heart you are waiting for will come in time, that terror and hatred have an immediate cure, that PTSD won't steal another veteran. I can't promise you that things will be easy or that you won't experience any more loss - you will.
I can't promise you any of that, but I can promise you that in any unfamiliar land you may tread, Jesus is there. He was there in Las Vegas when the crowds fled in terror. He is in Puerto Rico now and every other island that feels forgotten as new storms and tragedy rage on. He was in the gas chamber at Aushwitz, singing over each mother as she clutched her children in the darkness. He was in that room, car, or dark alley with you when that man stole your innocence. He was in Windows on the World restaurant, on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center, on September 11, 2001, when the searing flames and choking smoke rapidly closed in, forcing men and women to throw themselves from shattered windows to the ground below. He was in Sandy Hook Elementary School, holding the hands of six-year-olds as a madmen made his way through the halls, hell-bent on evil.
He will be in the room with your child during her bone marrow transplant. He will be with your husband, brother, father fighting for freedom on foreign soil, half a world away. I believe He's held Avery each time a scalpel has been pressed into her skin.
He is wherever you are now, never forsaking, always waiting, always interceding. You have never been alone.
Sadness and anger do not scare Him. Disappointment does not dissuade Him. The grave could not conquer Him and death cannot steal you from His hand.
Trust and know, my friends. When the storms rage on, when you feel too tired to continue and too disappointed to find hope, take some of mine... He is my hope.
I read the verse above, from Isaiah, during my devotions yesterday, certainly in anticipation of the news we received today.
Avery has a severe astigmatism in both eyes - profound vision compromise. I remember when she was a newborn, we weren't sure that she would be able to see AT ALL. Thank the Lord, that was not the case, but I had not really been anticipating any vision issues. I was slightly caught off guard, but not upset (partially, because HOW FREAKING CUTE WILL MY BABY BE IN GLASSES, PEOPLE!?!). Astigmatism are common in children with craniosynostosis, even simple craniosynostosis, because of how the skull shape can impact the eye shape - I just hadn't expected to cross that bridge today!
We are unmoved and my sentiments above remained unchanged. In fact, I feel more confident than ever that no diagnosis or physical death could negatively impact what I believe about the One who holds our world in His hands (admittedly, a prescription for glasses is one of the least tragic diagnosis anyone could face, so it's a poor example, but still!).
So much of this life is unfamiliar and unforeseen- it's REALLY GOOD to know Jesus.