8:15pm...and the house was quiet. I couldn't remember the last time both kids were down to bed that early. I had my entire evening planned out already - people I needed to call, emails to respond do, things around the house to get done.
I busily started in on my first task, and it wasn't even 8:20 when I heard the sound through the monitor. Not a whimper, not a cry...those I could ignore.
The loud cough came from Joanna's room. I knew what this meant.
I raced up to her room, seconds too late. Her vomit had drenched the bedsheet and was now running down onto the carpet.
The routine began. Bedsheets off, new ones on. Spray the carpet, scrub it clean. Stained pajamas off, slip her into clean ones. Run downstairs to grab more of her milk, then back up the stairs to begin the feeding process. The whole time, I was angry, sullen, demanding -- partially with Joanna, mostly at the Lord.
Joanna was sleepy but compliant. We were on the last ounce when it happened. Another cough. Out it all came. Again.
And I would refeed her. And then she'd cough again. After each sip, Joanna would ask, "Mommy, all done?" And each time, I would turn that same question upwards - "God, all done?" We repeated the process three times before her stomach finally relaxed enough to keep it down.
Joanna back in bed, I proceeded downstairs and collapsed into the couch, not sure whether I wanted to cry, or yell. Or eat ice cream.
I looked at the Bible sitting on the coffee table and groaned. Lies seeped out of my heart:
God does not see you struggling...
Everyone else has it easier...
You are alone, and this will only get worse...
I turned to a Psalm I had frequented every since discovering it in college:
"How long, oh Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and everyday have sorrow in my heart. How long...?"
5 times that day. And 3 times the previous. And every single day for the last 721 I was stooping down, cleaning up vomit, refeeding a teary child, begging her to keep it down, crying to the Lord to make this cycle stop, pleading with doctors for answers, sure that God wasn't watching, not sure I could handle just one more day, but then once more she'd vomit and I'd be down on the floor again.
I wasn't sad that my evening had been interrupted. I wasn't sad that every carpet in my house was permanently stained with reminders of Joanna's gastrointestinal issues. I was sad because I felt like God had turned a blind eye. He had rescued her from the pangs of death in the hospital again and again, but then...what? Did he forget that the struggle didn't end for us when we finally welcomed her into our home? Had he moved on?
Like the Psalmist expressed, God's face felt hidden. And I felt forgotten.
My conscience forced me to keep reading, knowing that there was more to the Psalm than sad desperation.
"But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me." (Psalm 13 - NIV)
For he has been good to me. How can the Psalmist say that, when he just described himself as a sorrowful, wrestling, forgotten man?
God has promised him salvation - an incomparable, concrete gift that he CAN rejoice in, despite the worst of circumstances and most desperate of emotions.
God has saved me. Through Jesus, He has rescued me from death, from sin, from guilt. He has blessed me, daily, with His goodness. He has promised me an eternity where all tears will be wiped away, and each vomit explained. And I will rejoice.
So why not now? WHY do I fill my mind with thoughts of what I'm missing? What's yet to be fixed? Why am I so easily convinced that God has forgotten me?
Because deep down, I'm the forgetful one. I've forgotten that I need saving.
And so rather than praising God, I demand from Him.
Oh, that I would humbly remember my need for grace, remember His unfailing love, rejoice in His salvation freely given. Oh, forgetful heart of mine, sing praise to the Lord for His unfailing love and goodness! God has not forgotten!