How long, Lord?
But God opens his hand
Psalm 145:15 The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
Psalm 130:5 I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word.
What a delight to care for my two-month-old granddaughter Juliana yesterday, satisfying her hunger with the milk my daughter had left for her.
I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for little JuJu’s health. I couldn’t help flashing back to Karis at that age, in the hospital and unable to swallow without bilious vomiting even one teaspoon slow drip over an hour.
And I started thinking about all the ways God fed Karis despite her dysfunctional intestines. Had she been born even a few years earlier, TPN (elemental nutrition administered directly into the veins) would not have been available for her. She was the first baby to survive infancy with her condition, thanks to TPN and to God’s dramatic intervention when the doctors asked us to remove life support and let her go, and instead her intestine inexplicably started functioning for the first time.
After that, for a while, she was able to nurse. When her intestines shut down again, she had a combination of TPN and pregestimil, administered half-strength slow drip through a kangaroo pump. (At other times in her life she actually drank that horrible stuff.) There were long periods when the only foods she tolerated were yogurt and boiled chicken breast. She had her own special “yogurt spoon.”
There were periods when she could eat a variety of foods, but that could morph in a matter of minutes into painful, life-threatening bowel obstructions and dehydration. We tried all kinds of combinations and concoctions. When she lost too much weight, the docs would put her back on TPN, which led to its own complications and scary line infections.
One day in Brazil when Karis was in high school, struggling to live a version of “normal life,” I carried my Bible into her bedroom open to Psalm 145 and told her God had spoken to me very directly through one verse; could she guess which it was?
She glanced at the page to see which psalm I was showing her and said, “Verse 15, right, Mom? Don’t I keep telling you to stop worrying about me? But Mom, what about all the children who starve, not because they can’t eat, like me, but because they simply don’t have food to eat? How does this verse apply to them?”
Her eyes filled with tears. “Mom, I wish I could use the money our insurance is spending to keep me alive to feed the children who don’t have food. Why can’t I, Mom? The world is totally out of whack, with so many resources invested in me and so few in them. It’s not right. What can I do? How can God bear it? How can we make the world a more equitable place?”
By now Karis was sobbing, and I with her. I still don’t know the answers to her questions. We have so much. Others have so little.
Remembering all this today, I think of God’s promise that the time will come when there is no more hunger and thirst. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes (Revelation 7:16-17). How long, Lord? How long?
As this season focuses our attention on the Source of our hope, God himself become a helpless, hungry infant, savor this beautiful reflection by Luci Shaw, “Mary’s Song” (thanks, Shari!):
Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest . . .
you who have had so far
to come.) Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled
a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.
His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world.
Charmed by doves’ voices, the whisper of straw,
hearing no music from other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed
who overflowed all skies,
Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught that I might be free,
blind in my womb to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth
for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.
Waiting for Baby Jesus … beautiful creche fashioned from cardboard boxes, tape, and paint by our friend Lineth.