Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Breathe Life

Two weeks ago Thursday morning, my niece drowned.
I saw two urgent prayer requests come through,
and when I asked for details, my heart sank.
My sister's baby had gotten out of the house.
They found her floating on her back in a kiddie pool.
She was blue.
No pulse.
She picked her up and turned her over, trying to get the water out.
She ran screaming to her husband that she was dead.
"No!" he yelled.
He knew what to do, but who knows what to do?
He laid the baby on the ground and did chest compressions on her.
After about a minute, her heart started beating.
She started wheezing and moaning.
My sister brought her inside, and she vomited water,
but she wasn't responsive, and she was abnormally stiff,
and her cry was not right.
An ambulance took her to a hospital,
where no one answered questions, and the baby's eyes didn't focus.
Some of these details came through later,
but all I knew was that she'd drowned, and it didn't look good.

I trembled, and I wept, and I begged God to save her.
To restore her.
To preserve her brain.
To hold us all up.
"I don't know how to pray!" I cried.
I didn't eat, as I had intended to.
And I kept my heart lifted up, but almost wordlessly.
I just couldn't put it into words.
You breathed life into mud, You can rebreathe it into her. 
Please breathe into her?

We aren't exempt from the snakebite that bites us all.
"...And if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; 
they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover..."
Even this stunning promise implies snakebites, and deadly drinks, and sickness.

I hesitated to even ask for prayer. 
Like speaking the evil that had fallen on us made it real.
But it was real.
Better to call the snakebite what it is,
and throw ourselves on the mercy of God.
I texted a couple of friends for prayer. 
Lord, she's been bitten. Please restore her. 

My sister said the baby had been staring at a corner of the room,
not seeing it when she did open her eyes,
and not paying any attention to any of them.
My sister didn't know what to do, and she was hopeless.
But she prayed, and she kept praying.
The baby turned her eyes and looked at them.
She followed them with her eyes.
Her stiffened out body relaxed.
She said they saw when she was restored.
She was transferred to a hospital equipped for children.

Her breathing was at 99%
Her oxygen levels were good.
The x-rays looked fine.
Her neurological tests came back fine.
A few hours after the whole ordeal, she was laughing and eating Cheerios.
They wanted to watch her overnight, to make sure.

"And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, 
and laid them on the fire, 
there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 
And when the barbarians saw the animal hang on his hand, 
they said among themselves, 
No doubt this man is a murderer, 
whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. 
And he shook off the animal into the fire, and felt no harm. 
Yet they looked when he would have swelled, or fallen down dead suddenly: 
but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, 
they changed their minds, and said that he was a god."

It's an interesting phenomenon,
(and one that ought not to be our first response to hearing a story of misery),
that other people's misfortunes
are immediately used as a means for us to point at culprits,
to assign blame, and to heap scorn on the victims.
When Paul was bitten by a snake,
the response of the onlookers was first to make him at fault,
and then to deify him.
Both are wrong.
Paul was doing exactly what God had called him to do,
and serving in the way that he could when his service resulted in a snakebite.

It doesn't even say he prayed when the snake bit him,
and yet the Lord saw fit to keep poison from its usual course of action in Paul.
Blessed be His name!

So many times in the gospels, Jesus was brought a hopeless case,
and His compassion moved Him to heal.
And I love truly His kindness, and His genuine concern for the families,
and that we never once see Him say, 'Who sinned?!'
In fact, His answer to that very question from His disciples was, to paraphrase:
"Neither. But that God's work should be revealed in Him.
And that's My work. I am the Light in the darkness."
And with that little explanation,
He squatted down to mix His spit into mud
to put in the blind-man-suspected-of-sin's eyes.

Three hours after my niece's restoration,
my parents were sitting beside my grandmother, whose death has been expected,
when she breathed her last.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
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