Finding Joy in the Slow Work of God

As a NICU mom I often find myself wondering what God is up to. Recently I have been struggling with Him on why Naomi was born with such a severe abdominal defect and why He’s not just healing her when I know He can do it. We recently found out that the pulminologist on Naomi’s case is projecting that it will be one to three years, not months, years, before she will be able to come home with us. We also learned that the surgeons think she will be at least five years old before her omphalocele will be corrected, but she may be as old as eight. It’s such a frustrating thought that it will all take so long. I want my baby girl to be healed and whole and home already!! I walk a fine line between wanting things to happen right now, on my timeline, and knowing that God’s timing, however slow by comparison, is always best.

Earlier this week I had an epiphany about this slow work of God. At the NICU they recommended at least 3-5 minutes of tummy-time several times a day to help develop her neck, shoulder and trunk muscles so Hannah and I were doing the second of our two to three daily tummy-time sessions. While it’s not her favorite thing, she generally does pretty well with it, however, this particular time she was really upset and protesting quite a lot. She looked up at me through her tears and frustration and it was clear she wanted me to make this difficulty stop.  As Hannah protested and cried I stayed close to her and tried to comfort her but I didn’t change her situation. I watched as my timer very, very slowly counted down three minutes and as soon as the moment arrived I snatched her up and held her in my arms. I wiped away her tears and I told her I knew it was hard and that she did so good. As I sat there holding my precious daughter I realized that she couldn’t see or understand that there are long term benefits to her suffering, all she knew was that she was going through something hard and I didn’t seem to be doing anything to help her. She didn’t know that what I was putting her through was actually helping her develop muscle strength and control for something I wanted her to be able to do later.

And so it is with God… We can’t always see or understand what we are being prepared for when we are in the midst of suffering, and it often feels like God isn’t doing anything to change our circumstances. But how often do we discover that the suffering we endured was where we gained the tools we needed for some future task God wanted for us to do? It doesn’t make the suffering and difficulty any easier, and if I had my way I would still choose for instant and miraculous healing for Naomi, but I have to believe that what Naomi is going through will help her and us be able to be prepared for what God wants us to do later. And as I was with Hannah, God is never far away even when we are suffering, He’s sitting right there, waiting until just the right moment when He can snatch us up and hold us in His arms and tell us we did a good job and kiss away our tears.

Until then, I am going to try to live out the final lines of a poem written by a French philosopher and Jesuit priest by the name of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin . The poem speaks to the excruciating experience of waiting on God and ends by saying,

“Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.”