April 19 (Good Friday)

Read: Luke 23:1-49

It was Good Friday 2009. Several days earlier, I had given birth to my son Daniel at 29.5 weeks after developing HELLP Syndrome. The trauma of the emergency c-section to save our lives had left me with PTSD, and I was having horrific postpartum depression as well. Daniel lay down the hall in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and we did not know if he was going to live and if he was going to have any side effects from being born so prematurely.

That particular morning, I woke up vomiting and with a mild fever. It put me in an even worse mood, and I was a sobbing mess when I came into the NICU. To make matters worse, Daniel’s neonatologist decided to tell me that the two of us were not supposed to survive the c-section, which was information that I did not need to hear at that moment in time. When I left the NICU, I found out that my obstetrician had already done rounds. I dissolved into sobs again, and the maternity ward clerk paged him to come back to the unit and calm me down. God bless him because he drove back across Great Falls to sit at my bedside and talk me off my figurative ledge.

As he sat on the side of my bed and held my hand, he commented that today was a serious day in Christendom as God’s son was on the Cross, trying to appeal to my faith to calm me down. I was livid and may have commented that God was not the one with a baby down the hall in the NICU. (That week is a bit of a blur due to how sick I was. If I did not say it, I was definitely thinking it.) I was so completely gobsmacked by everything that was going on that I could not formulate the words to pray. It was at least another month before I could come up with the words to tell God how furious I was at what I was being put through with Daniel.

When I was a bit less irony-impaired, I realized that God watched Jesus die that day almost 2000 years earlier. God understood how much horror and anger I was feeling. God was there with me in the midst of my pain, even though I was too inwardly-focused to understand.
We baptized Daniel that day with my mother and my uncle present. Jane, my favorite nurse, was there too. I had been apprehensive about baptizing him because I was afraid that Daniel would die if we did that. My mom was the one to convince me to do it, reminding me that Daniel had overcome so much and that it would be a celebration of how strong he was turning out to be. The picture of my small scarred hand resting on Daniel with my former husband Jon’s hand remains a favorite of mine to this day.

How wonderful it is that we have a God who understands the pain of watching a child fight for their life!

God, thank you for sending your Son to die for me. Thank you for putting yourself in a position of understanding what it is to watch your child suffer. Help me to never forget that I am never alone in my pain. Amen.

-Jen McCabe

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