This past Sunday, I mentioned at the beginning of my sermon that the promises given to us by God in Romans 8:35-39 had been important to our family during some challenging times. I didn’t take the time to elaborate, but it is worth sharing, especially since it is my own experience of the enduring and overwhelming love of God.
If you missed Sunday, you can hear this sermon here: http://sttimothyburlington.org/sermon-overview/the-love-of-god-in-christ-8th-sunday-after-trinity-august-6-2017/
In September 2009, we wanted nothing more than to bring our daughter home. Lydia was born in August, and by the end of September, we finally had her diagnosis. Between two hospitals, the diagnosis of Zellweger Syndrome had taken uncountable tests, specialists, and consultations. We spent almost six weeks in the NICU with her.
One of the many problems that she faced was a brain prone to seizures. When her brain lost control, she stopped breathing. It had happened most days while she was in the hospital. Sometimes, it was short and simple. Other times, it was dramatic and impossibly hard. Once we knew what we were facing, we knew that these would never stop. It was a symptom that could be managed (with precious few therapies available to newborns), but there wouldn’t be a cure.
She needed to go 48 hours without a seizure. That was the rule. We couldn’t take her home until 2 full days went by. The last week or two were spent training us in using oxygen tanks and AMBU bags and Pulsat monitors – because for us, it was never a matter of whether she would stop breathing, but a matter of how often and for how long – and we needed to know what to do.
We just wanted to get her home – to be in the space that was meant for her.
Through the kindness and hard work of our medical team, we managed to get her home, and based on the last few days in the hospital, we didn’t expect her to be with us for more than a few days.
She came home on a Friday, and our family and friends crammed into our living room the next afternoon. We risked bringing her out of her room on a travel oxygen tank and had her baptized.
We held our sick, beloved girl and wept as my dad read from Romans 8 – Neither death, nor life, nor height, nor depth, nor any created thing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Despite the sorrow of the intensely broken situation – God loved us, and God loved her – and nothing in all creation could change that.
By God’s grace, Lydia began to thrive at home. Her seizures slowed. We found additional medications that helped. Rather than a few days at home, she lived with us for over seven more months. I came back again and again to this scripture. We read it at her funeral. It’s a promise that I clung to then, and need still. In all of these things – we are more than conquerors, and nothing can change or challenge that. He loves us. He loves us. He loves us.