Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Please Pray

Kristal and I have some new news concerning Baby James. But first of all, he is doing very good. He is still slowly progressing with his sucking, gagging, and swallowing, but he is still not to the point where he can eat orally. The Lactation Consultant yesterday attempted to bottle feed him a tiny bit. He was able to get it down, but only after some coughing and choking. We had a little issue with one of the nurses because she tried to feed him orally without letting anyone know about it--including us, the therapist who is working on his sucking, gagging, and swallowing, and (as crazy as it may seem) the doctors. Kristal, being a good mommy, stood up and expressed her disapproval of this. It really was just sort of a strange ordeal, because everything that has happened with the baby so far has been a team effort. All of the doctors and nurses get together and discuss their plan of action. There was no plan discussed for oral feeding at this time, and so when Kristal and I learned that the nurse had done this without discussing it with anyone first, a red flag immediately popped up. The Lord directed us to the right people and they have sort of rectified the situation. We had a consultation with the Surgeon today regarding the G-Tube. Baby James is scheduled to go into surgery Thursday afternoon sometime. We will keep you all posted on this. At first we thought they were going to place the g-tube without surgery, but after talking to the Doctor about it today, it seems much safer to implant it from the outside in by way of an inscision rather than making a hole in his tummy from the inside out. The inscision will be very small and will heal in a matter of days. They have to sedate him for this surgery and so while he is sedated they are going to circumcise him as well. They are thankful that we are circumcising because they are going to be able to take his foreskin and use it to do further tests to make sure his brain injury is not the result of a rare metabolic disorder. They are very sure that his brain injury was caused by birth trauma, but they do not want to leave any stones unturned. Beause James is getting the g-tube does not mean that his ability to eat will in any way be harmed. The g-tube will stay in only as long as it takes for him to eat orally. Once he can get all of his food through his mouth they will take the tube out. We are a bit nervous about the surgery, but we know that a g-tube is much more comfortable for a baby than a feeding tube through the nose, AND we know that as long as he has a tube through his nose he cannot leave the hospital. They are guessing that we will be discharged sometime this weekend or the early part of next week. Please be praying for his surgery. Pray that the Lord would protect our little man while they are working on him. Pray that the Lord would grant the doctors skill, wisdom and precision and that there would be no complications. These two operations are very straight forward and there are very few complications associated with them, but, as with any operations, mistakes can be made. Please also pray, because he needs an IV and the nurses tell us that his veins are hard to find. Please also pray that he handles the anestesia well--that it works and that he he does not have any allergic reactions etc. Please also pray for Kristal and I that we get some sleep. We are ready to go home and are getting stressed with little sleep, tension, anticipation, and information. Also, pray for me because I have to take my finals next week.

One of the scriptures that stuck out to me as I was reading the book of John to Baby James was John 16:21-22. "Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you."

Now of course this verse jumped out at me because we just had a child and I saw Kristal go through labor (which, by the way, for those who have not seen their wives in labor--beware, your wife is much tougher than you think. If she flips out at you in what I would like to term "labor mode," you, my friend, are in a world of hurt). On a serious note this verse offers Chrstians with wonderful hope. I just want to make a few comments on this passage. First of all (and most obviously), notice that Jesus is here comparing the pain and trial of living in a fallen world with the pain and trial of labor. Jesus, up unto this point, has been talking about the horrid life one lives as a follower of Christ. No, don't think I mispoke, the HORRID life one lives as a follower of Christ. When I say "horrid" I do not mean joyless or hopeless. Jesus, in the context of this hunk of Scriptures tells us that "if the world persecuted Me they will persecute you also." In 16:20 he talks about how the world will rejoice and we will grieve. Why do you think Jesus exhorts those who wish to be converted to "count the cost?" Do not misinterpret Jesus' words by spiritualizing them when He exhorts us to "pick up our cross daily." When he said that he literally meant that unless we are suffering for the sake of the Gospel--we are not worthy to be his disciples. As weird as it may sound, if you are not bearing reproach because of the name of Jesus Christ there is something wrong. Jesus, in the sermon on the Mount says, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness." The life of a follower of Christ is, according to earthly criteria, horrid. After all, the entire reason why Peter wrote 1 Peter was to encourage the persecuted Christians; the reason the author of Hebrews wrote Hebrews was to encourage the persecuted Christians, the reason John wrote Revelation was in large part to encourage persecuted Christians, it is argued that the main reason Mark wrote his Gospel was to encourage persecuted Christians. This is also a major theme in the book of 2 Corinthians. There were some false teachers in Corinth and the way that Paul goes about showing why they should follow his teaching rather than the teaching of the false teachers is by shedding light on his afflictions on account of the Gospel. (Oh, and don't be mistaken about what that 'thorn" in his flesh was in Chapter 12--it is persecutions--the word "thorn" is the same word used for the 12 inch spike used to nail Christ to the cross, and he explains what his thorn was in the verses following when he says, "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." Paul here actually boasts in his afflictions). Persecution is promised to those who are in Christ. Why on earth then would you want to be a Christian? If Christianity is accompanied with such "grief" then why celebrate? Because the pain, agony, heartache, and hunger are worth it. This is the point of the passage. Jesus likens the pain and toil of this earth to the pain and toil of labor. No woman after having her child will say, "Ohhhh, I would throw this baby away in a heart beat if only I could take away the pain that accompanied his coming into the world." NO! The mother takes one look at her new baby and says, "It was worth it!" She does not forget the pain. It does not mean that once the child is in your arms that somehow there was no pain in labor. No, the memory and lasting effects of the pain are still real, however, the pain and grief were worth the child. The pain and grief we go through for the sake of Christ are worth it. When we get to heaven we will all say, "That was worth it."

One more observation. The promise is that our grief will be turned into joy. A couple gets pregnant and even before they have the child they live as though they already had the child. Kristal and I even went so far as to prepare Baby James' room for him two whole months before he was born. We (or I guess Kristal) washed all of his clothes and folded them and set up his room way before he was born. Expecting parents begin to buy things, they begin to think differently and everything even before the child is born. We in the same way WILL be changed by this thought of heaven. We are in a sense expecting--we are expecting a new home in a new place called Heaven. The things of this world tend to shape our perception. We are not to live as though this is all there is. When you have the promise of the child it is not the same thing as having the child, but it is not the same as having nothing. When you get pregnant you actually don’t know if you are going to have the child, but not so with the Spirit bearing witness about the hope of heaven. We KNOW that it is coming. So we also having been promised heaven do not now actually have it now--we have not completely been relieved from the trials of this life, however it is not as though we have nothing. Rather, we have a certainty of heaven based upon the unfalling word of the never-lying always-faithful God who is both Sovereign and Good. We will grieve, but we have this certainty. The woman cannot know the reality of having a child, but she has the testimonies of other mothers. The pain is still as awful, but the pain is lesser because of the hope. When we get to heaven we will not look at this earth and say, "Hey that wasn’t suffering," But we will say, "hey that was worth it." What a terrible thing to be apart from Christ. Look at what we look forward to. (This paragraph is a revised, expanded, and personalized version of my notes from one of my lectures from my Personal Spiritual Disciplines class taught by Dr. Mark Devine at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary).

The exhortation is to be bold in your proclamation of the Gospel. Lose all for the sake of Christ. Proclaim loudly and boldly. Bear the reproach of the Gospel knowing for certain that you do not suffer in vain. You have the hope of heaven. And as the Author of Life says Himself, "and no one can take this joy away from you!" Like a bold mother who wheathers the storm of birth with joy in the midst of pain, wheather the storm of the call of Christ with joy in the midst of pain. Maybe men, just maybe, this section of verses might be best understood by our women. It would be interesting to see some comments from women about how their labor has changed their perspective on anticipating heaven.

6 comments:

Jessy said...

We are praying.
Thank you for your comments on the passage. It brings new light on that scripture for me, especially since I can now relate to it so personally.
Way to go Krystal! Don't mess with Mamma! That would make me so angry, especially since he needs to get more used to the nursing form of sucking, and it would be sooo tempting for me not to sin in that anger. I know you are better than I at that though!
We love you! We're prayin' for those finals, Snow.

Paul Buckley said...

Hey Jimmy & Krystal,

We are praying for you guys and James' surgery. May the peace of God that passes understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus as you cast your anxieties on the Lord!

God Bless,
Paul

The Wingerd Family said...

Our family is praying for the surgery. Our hearts are with you guys.

mharkness@machlink.com said...

Hi Jimmy and Kristal,
I only found out today that the surgery was happening and so my prayers, even tho' I prayed for you all before I knew it, are in retrospect. I hope it went well and that you all are more at peace. He is so small and fragile that it's hard to imagine surgery on such a little guy. God bless! I hope you will be able to go home soon and be able to pick up on your life. It's been a long road and you both are just amazing at how well you have handled it. I love you all three so much and can't wait to hold my little great-grandson in my arms. Don't make me wait too long.
Good luck on those finals Jimmy. I have no doubt that you'll ace them.
I love you
Gramma Harky

Billye said...

Jimmy, you and Kristal and James have been in my heart all day. I know that you will put your best effort into those finals & end in tip-top shape. Also, James is just so photogenic...beautiful to behold!

I read in Oswald today: "The lives that have been the greatest blessing to you are the lives of those people who themselves were unaware of having been a blessing."

Your little family up there in NH has been that blessing to me; thanks for sharing all that you've been experiencing. God hold you in His peace during the baby's surgery. I love you,
Miss Billye

Emma said...

Jimmy-

I really enjoyed your observations on that scripture regarding labor. I can attest that labor hurts, REALLY BAD! But, looking back on the birth of both my kids, that first second of seeing my babies, even though I was just in the worse pain of my life, for those first few moments, I don't remember any pain. (Obvioulsly we're all sore for a few days or weeks after a baby is born, but I mean those first minutes, to me, were 100% pain free). That joy can quickly diminsh, once reality sets in, the pain starts to return, you have lack of sleep because you have nighttime feedings, and you are just scared to be a new mom. But those first moments, I experienced real joy. I have had lots of expecting moms ask me about the pain of childbirth, and I always say the same thing. You can endure it, because you know that 1) it will end and 2) when it does, your long-expected child will be with you FINALLY! It is worth it, it is worth it, it is worth it. Thinking now about having another child, it's almost like I miss that pain, and am excited to do it again, because of what that pain represents, what is coming from it, what its bringing about.

When I think of heaven being compared to that it just makes me marvel, because there is nothing on earth that is like the joy of seeing your child for the first time, and we know that joy is nothing in comparison to the joy we feel in heaven. We know that the sorrows or pains of this present time will be forgotten (not just for those first few minutes when we see the Lord, only to return and ache for a while longer) but completely be gone for eternity. Only joy will remain. How blessed we are to have such a clear picture of what that joy will be like, even if it is only a tiny glimpse. And we, as women, who have experienced the pain of childbirth, for a moment know in a small way what that relief of pain and sorrow will feel like. I can only imagine the sorrows of an entire lifetime gone in an instant, just like that pain was for those few moments when I first held my children.

On the other hand, for you and Kristal, I can only imagine the blessing a scripture like this is to you at this time. The Lord promises us this peace in heaven, this passing away of sorrow and pain. There will be no complications, there will be no uncertainty or anxiety. This promise is true, and will happen just as he has promised. Take heart in that and know, as difficult as it is, that you can endure it, because it will end, and in the end we will have something more precious than anything on this earth, eternity with our Lord and Savior, pain and sorrow free, guaranteed. IT IS WORTH IT, EVEN THOUGH IT HURTS, REALLY BAD. Because of what it produces and what is coming from it, and someday, we will forget it all in light of the joy we will be experiencing in heaven with our Lord! Praise God.

We continue to pray for all of you, and we love you.

Amy