Today’s Readings: Deuteronomy 3, Psalm 85, Isaiah 31, Revelation 1
Hello friends. I’m so grateful to be writing again for this very special Memorial Day Monday. I wish that I could say that today’s journal is about our Oliver coming home from the hospital and an end to our suffering through Jesus, but not quite yet. What I can say is that His love is alive and well in our family life. I’m so grateful to each of you that have prayed for our five year old first born. I ask that you continue to lift him up each day as we look for an answer to his suffering. Tonight he is cozy in his hospital bed at Children’s in Peoria and I am rocking our youngest in his empty room at home. Each time I walk past his empty bedroom, I lose my breath a little. Every day since he got sick has been broken into hours and minutes. It’s not until I come home for a few hours that the full impact of it all hits me.
This isn’t our first journey with Oliver and this hospital. Not our first time sitting and watching him suffer while doctors scramble to find the answer. But you know what…it IS our first time doing it with Jesus in our life. I promise you that this time is so very different. I am not afraid of the diagnosis. I have not spent hours in the darkened corner of his room feeling alone or isolated, tears streaming down my face. Instead, I have spent the hours holding him up, reminding him of God’s love and purpose for his life. Instead, I have spent the hours marveling at the tangible manifestation of Holy Spirit that is absolutely within us on this journey. I know that at the end of this hospitalization we will get a name, a word, a medical explanation. I also know that it won’t matter a bit. The last time we walked this 5 long years ago, I feared those words. Feared the impact on our lives, feared for his future, feared for the sadness and the loss of what we dreamed of for our son that may never come to be. Now I know that those words are just that. Empty words.
Today’s scripture takes us to Isaiah 31. We are on the fifth woe by the time we reach Chapter 31. The issue yet again is that God’s people are trusting the Egyptians rather than God to help against their enemies. They are counting their cavalries and soldiers and putting all their faith in the flesh. The 8th century prophet Isaiah opens this chapter with:
“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!” Isaiah 31:1
He goes on to remind us that the Israelites attempt to get help from the Egyptians will backfire because the both the helper and the helped will be destroyed by God. The ultimate lesson here is that only God can protect his people. He is our fearless lion and He is the bird circling above our heads. This is BIG. In a world where we are constantly looking for ways to arm ourselves against our perceived enemies, here it is friends. The prophet Isaiah told us…no he showed us that all we need for protection is our Father. I don’t need build an army of physicians and specialists for my son. I don’t need to depend on them to transcend and save my son. He’s already saved. I catch myself some mornings during rounds placing all my hope in the white coats. Hanging on their every word, their plans for my son’s future. But all too quickly that moment passes and we learn that the plans we had and the plans they had are not the plan that God has for Oliver. Instead, we are all in this boat together. Day by day we wait for His plan to be unveiled and more importantly, his purpose.
Already, there have been big open door glimpses of our Father at work. I’m not supposed to share this with you but I can’t help it, because it’s evidence of Him. Oliver’s daddy and I have been praying and hoping and planning for new job for him. Our family has literally been carried to the edge of a cliff with the strains of his current job. He is gone from us for hours, days, weeks and often in the most critical times. We miss him and we ache for his presence at the dinner table, on weekends, and at bedtime. On the very day Ollie got sick an opportunity arose. A few days later there was an interview and then another and another. All under the cover of Oliver’s pain and in the darkness this small light was burning brighter and brighter. At the end of last week our Daddy accepted a new position with one of Ollie’s doctors. He gets to come home and be a family with us every single night and every single weekend. We get to be a real family for the first time ever.
And so my friends, the McGriff party of 5 can certainly identify with the five woes of the Israelites. We’ve had our fair share. But the truth is, we’ve placed our trust in Him and only Him. If you are sad today, fearful, hopeless or just doubt his presence, I hope our story has inspired you to look to Him. Our eyes are up and I hope yours are too.