Kai and I started on an adventure. We got in the car, coffee in hand. Mike and Mike playing through my phone. Kids songs flowing through the speakers. I was ready for an uneventful drive with just one child. It was kind of feeling like a vacation. No refereeing or reminding them to be kind. About 30 minutes into our trip, Kai began to whine and cry. It's particularly difficult to get any meaningful words from him when he's upset, let alone when we're driving and I can't fully attend to him. My words didn't mean much to him. Before I could find a spot to pull over, he threw up. The cries bellowed and within moments, blood was pouring down his face. His nose was bleeding and he was devastated. Already on the turnpike, I had to drive for a couple miles until there was a safe place to stop. During those miles, I kept reassuring him with my words.
"Everything will be okay, Kai."
"Mommy is right here, sweetheart."
"Mommy is trying to help you. I have to find a place to stop."
"Don't cry, baby. It's okay."
His cries grew. I imagine my words didn't mean much to him. He was covered in his own vomit and blood. Words did little to wipe up the vomit or stop his nose from bleeding. He was scared. He wanted me to make it better. He probably wished I would just be quiet and drive faster!
We have all been in situations where words just don't cut it. Sometimes we are met with words that aren't useful. Other times, the words miss the mark. Still further, we wish for quiet at times because words just don't help. Have you ever been talking with someone sharing heartache and struggle, completely unsure of what to say? Words just seem inadequate at times.
When we face trouble in life, words don't have much long lasting power. Sure, words can be a source of encouragement. We can feel increased hope and joy from conversations with others. But our words are only truly powerful as we point one another to the Gospel. The only lasting hope and joy that flow from these conversations come as we see Jesus more clearly, knowing His presence more deeply.
As I was speaking essentially powerless words to Kai in the car, I realized how grateful I am that my Heavenly Father never utters a powerless word to me. Every word spoken in the Word of God, every comfort ministered to my heart by the Holy Spirit is completely full of power.
I will admit that I forget this. At times, I approach Scripture forgetting the power inherent within it. These are the very words of God. The promises, the comfort, and the hope are all alive and as real and life-giving as the very air we breathe. Why I am quick to feel like the words are powerless? I elevate my experience and feelings to truth.
I begin to believe the lie that Satan tells me: "These words don't really help this pain. The promise was relevant for the people of that time, but it just doesn't really help you now. A God who is not physically present can't possibly offer true comfort." As I allow this lie to run through my mind, it diminishes the power of God's Word and elevates the strength of my own feelings and experience. In my own heart and mind, my feelings begin to speak louder than the truth of God. As this lie grows, my thoughts, feelings, fears, and sorrows become the soundtrack of my life and God's truth is but a whisper. I can barely hear it as my own mess grows louder. My own thoughts about my life start to sound beautiful and God's words start to sound off key. My own definition of what God's power and comfort should look like make me miss His real comfort and power.
I am desperate for God to retune the ears of my heart. I am desperate for Him to make my heart value His truth, His words, His power. Can I tell you this is a battle? Like a week by week, day by day, moment by moment battle. At times, I value God's word. I know the reality of His power. I feel the comfort of His presence. Other times, my circumstances, thoughts, and feelings grow loud and my perception of His presence an undertone.
Notice, what I did not say here. I did not say that I need to retune my ears. I did not say that I need to make my heart value Him more. Why? Because I don't have that power. Only God has that power. I am so desperately in need for Him to bring me back. Take it from someone who has a tendency to think I can try harder, find ways to be better or just get it together in order to please God and earn His favorable response. No. I can't make my heart value Him. My heart is wicked, hopeless for change and left to its own power, will never choose more of Christ. As I recognize my heart undervaluing God's words, I must humble myself, turn to Him, confess my sin and brokenness, and ask for Him to make my heart value His beauty and power.
Satan wants nothing more than for us to believe that God's word is powerless. The truth is God's words are always powerful. Always. Do I see the power? Do I see the beauty? My words to Kai were without any real power. My Heavenly Father's words are never without power. Never. Do you know the power of God's word? Do you experience the comfort of His word? Ask Him to make Himself beautiful to you. Ask Him to show you the power of His Word. Ask Him to show you what His comfort and power are. He is faithful. He will reveal these things.
After I cleaned Kai up, he gave me a kiss (I know, he's precious). We continued on our way to the appointment. We met with our second neurosurgeon in one week. The first neurosurgeon was positive about Kai's hydrocephalus. He felt the shunt was functioning and he didn't see any complications from the hydrocephalus. He believed the tumor to be benign. The only way we will know if it has grown is through monitoring it over time. The surgeon was wonderful, spent extra time with us, and helped us get caught up on what Kai's diagnosis means.
We were encouraged to go to CHOP neurosurgery for a second opinion as they are extremely specialized, doing one thousand pediatric neurosurgeries each year. CHOP is the #2 ranked pediatric hospital in the US. CHOP neurosurgery is #3 ranked pediatric neurosurgery hospital in the US. What an incredible resource to have so close to us! The neurosurgeon at CHOP was thrilled to see how healthy Kai looked. He and the physician assistant mentioned that several times. He looks healthy. The surgeon was pleased with the fluid draining from his shunt and naturally within his brain. His initial impression is that he has a good amount of fluid draining even without the shunt. He ordered a CAT scan to get a better look at the size of the ventricles within Kai's brain and the fluid. He also is hopeful that the tumor is benign. He felt based on the size of the tumor and Kai's age, if it was malignant, it would have likely grown over the past two years. Even without a baseline image, he does not feel it has grown because Kai shows no symptoms from the tumor. He felt that if it had grown, Kai would be symptomatic. However, due to Kai's age, unknown history, and because it is an atypical tumor for that area of the brain, he wants pediatric neuro-oncology to look at the tumor. He assured me that neuro-oncology follows both malignant and benign tumors. Maybe he saw the fear in my eyes when he said neuro-oncology! All day, they see pediatric brain tumors and they see the most unusual cases. We will be scheduling an appointment with them in the upcoming months. We are hopeful that they will say it is a benign tumor without needing further testing or biopsy. They will develop a plan for following Kai over time to monitor for any growth or changes.
As we drove home from CHOP, I remembered my experience with Kai. I recalled the well-intentioned, powerless words I spoke to the bloody, vomit covered little boy. To be honest, my heart was feeling a little bloodied after that appointment. Maybe because I was tired. Maybe because I was hopeful that all of these appointments were coming to a close, but now we have several new ones to begin. Maybe the words neuro-oncology shook my heart a little. I'm not sure why my heart felt a bit tired and broken. But I remembered the very present and powerful words of my God. I was aware that behind the words of God was an extremely present and loving God, right beside me, ever-present, loving and compassionate.
God's words are powerful. Do you know the comfort and power of His word to you? We hear His words in Scripture, through Gospel-centered lyrics, in Scripture saturated books, sermons and talks. We hear His words in conversations with other believers. Whatever ways you come in contact with God's word this week, remember that there is a very present, loving and powerful God speaking all of these words, keeping all of the promises and filling you with hope and faith. Ask Him to tune your heart to hear the incredible beauty of His truth.