Why do bad things happen to good people? This has long been a dilemma to mankind. Everyone I know has persevered through dark days, and at times has grown weary from bearing the cross(es) laid upon them. Mostly, we come out on the other side stronger for having born them. There’s a saying that goes like this: God will not lead you where His grace will not keep you. The Bible says it like this: My grace is sufficient. (2 Cor 12:9) Sometimes that belief helps. Sometimes it doesn’t. Suffering and perseverance pretty much sucks. Sometimes, once we get on the other side of it, we can see a reason or a purpose for it. Often, though, we can never reconcile it with any purpose at all, and the reasons may never be clear to us. Those trials are, I think, the hardest of all to bear.
My work is all about sick folks. I sit at a desk all day, and sometimes half the night, transcribing dictated voice files into documents. There are a lot of sick folks who come through the doors of our hospital. Most of them recover enough to leave through those same doors. But some of them don’t. It isn’t quite as difficult to understand when it’s an elderly person, or even someone with a chronic illness. However, it is tragic when someone dies unexpectedly, or as the result of an accident.
Most heartbreaking, though, are the cases of the children. Thankfully there aren’t many of those, since we are not a pediatric-specialty hospital, but occasionally there are children who are lost at our facility. Such a nightmare is unthinkable to me. I watched my dearest friends endure 37 days of neonatal intensive care for their premature daughter, only to lose her to a seemingly preventable staph infection. Then a few years later, they lost a son, also born months too soon. Such loving people with so much to give. Friends and family have struggled for years and years with this, trying to make sense of it. The fact remains there is, to our human minds and hearts, no sense to it at all. It is a pain that only a mother and father who have walked the same path can feel. Friends are there to help, support and grieve alongside them, each trying their best to empathize, but hoping they never have to feel the same pain. Years later, it is still painful and no more understood now than when it happened.
Because of the nature of my work, and perhaps also because of the above experience, I am drawn to stories involving health care, particularly those relating to babies or children. I recently heard the story of an infant sent to hospice care. An infant. The baby had suffered an anoxic brain injury at birth resulting in irreversible medical complications. Less than a year old at the time of referral, the baby was not expected to survive past another few weeks. When I hear a case like this, I think of Samantha and Joshua. Having witnessed the journey of my friends, I can only imagine the pain of the parents of this hospice baby. Parents who loved, cherished, and nursed their baby all those months, and then had to watch it slowly slip away. Wondering each day if every sweet little smile, or every goodnight kiss would be the last. What unthinkable agony.
Perspective. It is easier, perhaps, to think of Joshua and Samantha as sweet little cherubs in heaven, than what might have been their fate had they survived. As devastating as it was to lose them, perhaps it was the most merciful thing for everyone involved, though it is really difficult to entertain such a horrendous thought. However, there are worse things than death.
Perspective. Whenever my work day revolves around sick children brought to our facility, I am ever so thankful for my own healthy child, and my healthy grandchildren. One facet of my work involves genetics, and some days I find myself weeping. It is a bitter reminder that the health and development of a healthy child is only one tiny chromosome deletion or variant away from every parent’s nightmare. Today my work involves children with neurological issues. It is days like this that make my job difficult. We become more detached to the normal, routine patients with reflux, gallbladder attacks, and pneumonia. Not so easy with the children. I guess it is the Mom, Greemaw thing, wherein I identify on a deeper level with the peds patients. Sometimes I will Google a particular illness with which I'm not familiar. And then I wish I hadn't. Yet I am grateful to have even a small part in the provision of their care, behind the scenes though it may be. And though they will never see me, or know that I am doing it, I pray for the children and their parents. Perhaps in some way it will help them. I know it helps me keep things in perspective as to just how blessed I have been.
Perspective. Whatever cross we bear is no less difficult to bear just because someone else got a worse deal than we did. But still, it is good to acknowledge that there are indeed those who do have it worse. And no matter how bad it sucks, it just is what it is. Hopefully we can wake up each morning, and realize that no matter how bad things are, things could always be worse. And hopefully we trust that God’s grace is sufficient to carry us through yet another day.
Say a prayer today for sick children, premature babies, and the parents who care for them. And then sometimes must bear the hardest cross of all, and let them go.