Sunday, April 1, 2012

Help My Unbelief

My three year old is sick. Nothing terribly serious, I believe. But she is miserable. She has had a fever and headache for the last 36 hours. I haven't slept more than an hour each of the last two nights. I keep anxiously checking her neck for any signs of pain or stiffness. I know menengitis is rare, but that hasn't kept me from worrying. I have been doing all the things I know to keep her hydrated. I know that less than two full days of a 102 fever is not unusual. I know.

But something about this little third-born of mine always leaves me with a muted sense of panic. Like some horrific challenge is ahead for this tenderhearted warrior princess, and somehow every little illness with her rattles me more than similar bugs with the other three.

I give myself all the pep talks on faith and conquering fear that I have heard since childhood. I believe in healing. I've experienced it. I come from a family whose faith that God will heal our physical bodies is vibrant and justified. Our automatic response to any sickness or injury was prayer and confidence that God would act. And we have seen miracles.

But part of me doubts, too. I've also seen terrible suffering that leaves me screaming at God for allowing it. Yeah, I know all the explanations about free will and the results of living in a fallen planet, and the charge to do what we can ourselves to fight injustice, etc. None of that satisfies my emotions when people I love are hurting.

I cuddle, and kiss her forehead again, wincing at the heat against my lips, and I pray. Oh, how I pray. And I hear the hissing voices that tell me I'm not doing it right. That if I would just pray with this attitude or those words or change my heart, then somehow I would unlock the magic formula. I recognize the lies. The God I serve is not cold and merciless, so petty as to withhold healing from my daughter because of something stupid like that. I know that he is always, always working for our good. I believe that the dust and mess and even pain in our lives still forms living Nazca lines.

Still part of me whispers to Him that we had better not ever face a real tragedy, because what if I crack? I would rather be an untried coward than someone of heroic faith. Help my unbelief.

Yet I know, really know, that He is a God of grace. The one who looked at the multitudes of dirty, smelly, grouchy and noisy people pressing him and had compassion on them and healed them.

I kiss her again (is it my imagination, or wishful thinking, or is she a bit cooler?). I pray again, mingling confidence and faith and fears and exhaustion. I believe. Help my unbelief.


Marcy said...


Lord be with you.

Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources said...

((Hugs)) for you and your sick little one, mama. I'm with you. We've been through over a month with six sickies in our house, the two littlest with pneumonia. Night after night of fevers spiking to 104, breathing treatments, coughing so hard they vomit, etc. I'm so exhausted if I blink too long I might fall asleep! But those desperate prayers and doubts and fears, yes, I hear you. We always get attacked at our weakest, don't we? No real wisdom to share, just commiseration. Hope your little one gets better soon! Mine are finally on the mend. Now for some rest!

Pippi said...

I"ll be praying too.

I always had this irrational fear of losing Hunter. I don't know why. When he was a year old, he came down with croup and could hardly breathe. I had been raised with the mentality that it was essentially a sin to seek medical attention. But nothing I tried helped, and I couldn't take the terror in his little face. He couldn't even cry. So I took him to the hospital. He was in the PICU for three days and the hospital general for nearly three more. I was so sure he would die, but he didn't.

Then at two years old, he disappeared from the front porch and I couldn't find him. I kept telling myself he couldn't have gone far, but I called 911 anyway. I started to think he must have been hurt or kidnapped not to answer me. After about 40 minutes they found him playing among the yard decorations on a neighboring street. He had pooped his diaper and didn't want me to know.

Since then the paranoia is gone. I still watch him closely, because he is the one who likes to dart away from me in a parking lot, run off in the store, etc. But the feverish, clinging fear is gone. Maybe it was just to make sure I made the right decisions in those instances, despite my trained reaction.