To walk by faith and not by sight is God’s desire for us. He promises us in His Word that He is good all the time and that He works all things for the good for those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) The irony is that the only way to truly possess these truths is to traverse more than a few rocky paths and experience His grace first hand. And for those of us who are particularly hard headed, sometimes those rocky paths need to be pretty steep.
Around the time my second child turned 2, my husband and I began to discuss having a 3rd. Since number two child was pretty easy, we thought we had this parent thing down and knew we had plenty of room in our hearts for more children. But, we were living far from family and my pregnancies had been difficult. Couple that with the fact that my husband traveled most of the time and I decided that I simply could not handle 3 kids. But, God had other plans.
It was August of 97 and I was suffering from a bad case of poison ivy. The doctor put me on a steroid to calm the rash but, little did I know, it would knock my very regular cycle off by exactly 2 weeks. On the day I put my first born on the bus for Kindergarten, a pink plus sign appeared in the pregnancy test window. I was going to have another baby. It’s not that I wasn’t happy about it but, as the pregnancy progressed, my faith began to slide backwards. I allowed the fear of not being in control to replace my newfound peace and those chains of anxiety began to choke me again. (see I’m Not In Control-Part 1) By the time the baby was born, I was already exhausted and depleted.
Nothing went as planned. My son was a poor nurser (I tried everything) and wouldn’t sleep unless he was in my arms. At 3 weeks old, he caught a virus from my toddler and ran a fever. The pediatrician sent us to the hospital where they spent the next few days performing a myriad of tests including a spinal tap, during which I collapsed from feeling every bit of his intense pain. They put him on intravenous antibiotics and I had to nurse him around all of those tubes. The monitors beeped off and on all night and by the time we returned home from the hospital with a clean bill of health, I had stopped sleeping.
It became more and more difficult to care for my older children. I had been trying to read my Bible to hear from God but, I couldn’t concentrate long enough to absorb even one passage. I was praying but, God was silent. I wanted Him to end my suffering and He wasn’t. I couldn’t see it then, but instead He came along side me as a gentle whisper sending His love and support through several women in our church. They brought food and took my other 2 kids to their house for days on end so that I could rest and just take care of the baby. They prayed for me and put my name on prayer lists. I was grateful for their support but I wasn’t getting any better. This cycle went on for several weeks.
One afternoon a friend called to check on me and I trepidatiously told her about some dark thoughts I had been having. She gave me the name of her doctor. You see, she had been diagnosed with Postpartum Depression a year earlier and suspected that I had it as well. She had needed medication to get over it and said I probably would too. I made an appointment but, was scared to death. Medication would probably mean I would have to stop nursing which I absolutely did not want to do, especially since I had nursed my other 2 children for nearly a year. I cried out to God in desperation. “Tell me what to do, God. Should I go see this doctor and get on medication?” I had seen my mother take anxiety medication and it only fueled her addictions. But, I knew I couldn’t go on like this. I asked God for a sign.
The next morning I changed the baby’s diaper and it was black. I immediately called the pediatrician and he asked me to bring in my son and the diaper right away. After a few tests, he told me that there was blood in my son’s stool but, they didn’t know if the cause was from him bleeding internally or from me, because of his poor latch. He said I would need to pump for 48 hours and feed him formula so that they could be sure. At that moment I knew this was my sign from God. I had total peace to stop nursing so I went home and bound my breasts. Two days later my son was eating from a bottle and his stool was clear.
I went to the doctor confident that God had given me the green light to go on meds. It took a few more weeks but gradually sleep returned. It wasn’t until about 3 months later that I began to feel like my old self but my precious sisters in Christ continued to walk closely beside me until His light completely illuminated my darkness. One of them gave me a poem that I memorized and treasure still.
I came to the swift, raging river, and the roar held the echo of fear; “Oh Lord, give me wings to fly over, If You are as You promised quite near.
But He said, “Trust the grace I am giving, all-pervasive, sufficient for you. Take my hand- we will face this together; But, my plan is-not over, but through.
Lee Webber, Santa Rosa, California From Guideposts, May, 1986
As God delivered me safely across this river, I understood a little more of His purpose in allowing suffering in our lives. He skimmed off more dross from my heart and showed me that the testing of my faith produces endurance and endurance would have its perfect result so that I would ultimately be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4) I am still learning but, the chapter of my life’s story on God’s faithfulness grew ever richer from walking this road.