Ealier this week, I got an e-mail from my mother's group. A mom had just had a new little boy, weighting one pounds, five ounces. Of course this little dude is in the NICU and I e-mailed back, asking which NICU he is in. They forwarded my message and he is at "my" NICU.
The mom and I have been e-mailing each other and I have been offering prayers and support. So far, Little Dude is doing awesome!
This brings baby so many memories of Georgie's early days in the NICU. Today's readings really hit home, especially the Gospel reading:
Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany,
the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil
and dried his feet with her hair;
it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.
So the sisters sent word to him saying,
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
hen Jesus heard this he said,
“This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
“Let us go back to Judea.”
The disciples said to him,
“Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you,
and you want to go back there?”
“Are there not twelve hours in a day?
If one walks during the day, he does not stumble,
because he sees the light of this world.
But if one walks at night, he stumbles,
because the light is not in him.”
He said this, and then told them,
“Our friend Lazarus is asleep,
but I am going to awaken him.”
So the disciples said to him,
“Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”
But Jesus was talking about his death,
while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep.
So then Jesus said to them clearly,
“Lazarus has died.
And I am glad for you that I was not there,
that you may believe.
Let us go to him.”
So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples,
“Let us also go to die with him.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away.
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”
When she had said this,
she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying,
“The teacher is here and is asking for you.”
As soon as she heard this,
she rose quickly and went to him.
For Jesus had not yet come into the village,
but was still where Martha had met him.
So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her
saw Mary get up quickly and go out,
they followed her,
presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him,
she fell at his feet and said to him,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping,
he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”
So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”
Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
In a second, I was back in the NICU, staring at my son, screaming inside, "Jesus, where are you? Why is my baby so sick?"
And a little voice whispered, I am right here.
"I want this to end!" I screamed back. "I want to wake up and have my son in my womb, kicking at me, causing my horrible pelvic pain. I want to suffer, not him."
And the voice said, I know.
"If you were really here, my baby wouldn't BE here!"
It is because I am here that your son lives.
"Please wake me up."
"You ARE awake. It is okay if you are not strong. I will hold you. I will carry you. And his life will be for the glory of God."
And another voice whispered, "I understand. I too watched a Son suffer."
"Remember," said the first voice, "my mother lost a child."
I stopped screaming and started sobbing, falling into their arms. They held me and rocked me and whispered that they knew.
The verses, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it," keep running through my head. Georgie is not sick, now. He's healthy. But he was a sick cookie. At the time, I couldn't see what good would come of his prematurity. And now... now I hope that the Son of God will be glorified through it.
And I think He has.
BECAUSE of the NICU stay, we have wonderful friends, friends I can call or e-mail and say, "I'm having a really crappy time today. I keep flashing back to the NICU," or "We just recieved this diagnosis and I feel horrible, like it is my fault." They understand.
BECAUSE of the NICU, we have a special ministry- Thanksgiving dinner! It feels good to provide a yummy, home cooked meal to people with children in the hospital. I know I am feeding their body, which, in turn, feeds their soul. I hope they know that there are people out there who remember that it is like to be in the hospital over the holidays and are praying for them.
BECAUSE of the NICU, I have a better understanding of that it means to be pro-life. It's not just protesting in front of abortion clinics- it's praying for and taking care of the "least of these," the tiniest and sickest of humans.
And BECAUSE of the NICU, I can offer support to other families and truly say, "I understand and I am here for you." Although Jesus is the light in our darkness we too can be light for other humans. A simple e-mails, a kind message, a cup of coffee can bring someone light in the darkest of hours.
Georgie is alive and his prematurity was not an end, but the beginning of God's glory in his life and the life of others.