I lay there in the hospital feeling…useless. For two days my body had tried to force this tiny person from my body prematurely. My muscles would tighten and constrict without warning. Doctors and nurses would suddenly appear and countless doses of medications and solutions were prescribed to counteract what my body was trying to do. I had taken pregnancy for granted. Three times I had delivered healthy, full-term babies, but this little person was threatening to come far too early.
Sisters in Christ appeared at my bedside…the sort who come to say hello, but intend to stay and pray and take my burden to the Lord. They are there when we learn that this fourth blessing is a boy–such joy!–and one of these sisters leaves behind a beautiful, ceramic bird. Lovely. Precious.
My mom calls that night to tell me Grandma is gone…passed away in her sleep. I see that little bird and remember her Audobon books and her keeping lists of birds she’s seen on long trips and her bird feeders all ’round her farm yard and I hear, “His eye is on the sparrow.” I think of her and how God’s eye was always on her and how His eye is on my sparrow-boy, too. Such a comfort.
The doctors are successful and they send me home…pregnant. But our boy will be born with complications, will face surgery and I feel…useless again. We wait and doctors try to diagnose and guess what the best course is. We pray and seek the Lord’s course…and then our boy is here. He is so, so sick. He weathers the surgery well and slowly heals. And we wait..
And everyone is encouraging and helpful and hopeful and I want to be, too, but inside I want to know “why?!” Our family and world have been turned upside down and so many things feel uncertain. I ache for my boy, sob as we go home to an empty house, cry every night after hearing my girls’ voices over the phone–far, far away…why? Why does it have to be like this? Why us? Why?
One day, as I’m sitting beside my boy’s crib, watching his chest rise and fall, listening to the quiet goings-on of his NICU unit, I pick up the Word and this leaps off the page:
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3
And I’m undone. I can’t hold back all the emotions of these weeks and months and I begin to sob. Our nurse quickly finds the chaplain who comes alongside me and begins to gently rock me, to comfort me. I hear her whispering as she soothes, “His eye is on the sparrow. His eye is on you.” Over and over she whispers these words and I receive His grace in that moment. I am His sparrow. I am a mother upended and He is my peace.
The next day, I wake up and for the first time in months I put on nice clothes, perfume, fix my hair. Hubs and I make the time to go to a wedding before we go to minister to our boy. Our sweet sister and brother in Christ–same sister who gifted me my ceramic sparrow–are becoming one and we want to share their joy. As the music begins, I’m caught off guard by the words…beauty for ashes, a garment of praise for my heaviness…truly His eye is on the sparrow.
Fast forward two years. That same sister in Christ posts artwork online. My eye is drawn to a piece she’s working on…Beauty for Ashes. On one panel is my bird, my sparrow…Lord, truly?! I hesitate to share the story with her. I wait. And then I cannot wait any longer…the Spirit compels me to testify of His goodness and grace.
Then she shows up unexpectedly with painting in hand and says it belongs with us, with our family…I am speechless and overwhelmed…and again receive His grace, His peace in the moment.
Thank You Lord for Your grace. Thank You for watching over me, for calling me Your child. Thank You for powerful witnesses in my life and the lives of my husband and children. Thank You for replacing my heaviness with the garment of praise. Thank You for the oil of joy…In Jesus’ Name, Amen.