When we had our first baby, I was like, “I can handle this little ol’ thing.” Breastfeeding was easy for me (THANK YOU, LORD!). Diaper changes and sleeplessness nights were hard, but seemed manageable with copious amounts of coffee. Granted, at this point there was only one of them and two of us, but you get the idea.
Then it happened. She got sick. And babies don’t get normal sick. They get weird sick. There was all this snot that wouldn’t come out. She couldn’t breath when I fed her. Her little chest found it challenging to rise and fall. I took her to the doctor, found out these symptoms evidently stemmed from an ear infection (WHAT?!!) and filled about 14 prescriptions at the pharmacy.
I hit a breaking point one day, picked up my phone, and called my pastor’s wife, Linda. Crying as soon as she picked up, I lamented, “I don’t think I can do this. I’m not cut out for parenting. I might need to turn her back in.”
She got in her car, came to visit me, hugged all my tears out of me, and gave me comfort in the form of this phrase: “I hate the Dr. Mom part of parenting too. Don’t worry, It’s God’s job to keep them alive. It’s your job to just love them.”
Relief rushed over me. For weeks I had felt just so responsible. A tiny human dependent completely on me for survival was more than daunting, it seemed impossible. Of course it seemed impossible, because it was impossible…for me. That was God’s job.
In Isaiah 38 we find a section of narrative, a break from the poetic style most of Isaiah is in, for a story. A true and real adventure in which King Hezekiah finds out very quickly that life is in God’s hands and not His own. It’s a useful lesson for all of us. Each of our lives, held tightly in the hands of God and God alone.
Open your Bibles to Isaiah 38:1-22. I’ll highlight verses 1-3 and 12-20 below.
In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. AndIsaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.”2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 and said, “Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
9 A writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, after he had been sick and had recovered from his sickness:
12 My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me
like a shepherd’s tent;
like a weaver I have rolled up my life;
he cuts me off from the loom;
from day to night you bring me to an end;
13 I calmed myself until morning;
like a lion he breaks all my bones;
from day to night you bring me to an end.
14 Like a swallow or a crane I chirp;
I moan like a dove.
My eyes are weary with looking upward.
O Lord, I am oppressed; be my pledge of safety!
15 What shall I say? For he has spoken to me,
and he himself has done it.
I walk slowly all my years
because of the bitterness of my soul.
16 O Lord, by these things men live,
and in all these is the life of my spirit.
Oh restore me to health and make me live!
17 Behold, it was for my welfare
that I had great bitterness;
but in love you have delivered my life
from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins
behind your back.
18 For Sheol does not thank you;
death does not praise you;
those who go down to the pit do not hope
for your faithfulness.
19 The living, the living, he thanks you,
as I do this day;
the father makes known to the children
20 The Lord will save me,
and we will play my music on stringed instruments
all the days of our lives,
at the house of the Lord.
21 Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover.”
“The father makes known to the children your faithfulness…”
Hezekiah’s prayer to our Father in heaven is so very real. So often we go about our lives in that relative security and then in comes the hard stuff. When we face death as human’s, this is when we can’t help but turn to God. Almost any human being in those last moments, looking death smack dab in the middle of the eye, prays at the very least. Sometimes it’s as simple as
We all have our opinions about God, until mortality shows up on our doorstep, as it did for Isaiah. Suddenly, we need God like we have never needed Him before.
Isaiah’s prayer goes through phases- anguish and uncertainty- to the embrace of mercy and absolute certainty. Isaiah may be one place in the Bible where the stages of grief was laid out for us long before any psychological theory existed.
“I am consigned…”
“…like a weaver I have rolled up my life…”
“…like a lion he breaks all my bones…”
“I moan like a dove…”
“My eyes are weary with looking upward.”
“Be my pledge of safety!”
Can you hear the physical and emotional struggle? Can you hear the doubt? The wrestling? Isaiah says it out loud before the Lord of Hosts. Why?
Because he knew he was invited.
This is part of God’s make up. He is Father to His dear children. He is not just King, although He reigns on the highest throne. He is not just Lord, although He is certainly Master over our lives. He is Father to His much loved children.
You are a child of God.
Just as Hezekiah proclaims his own place before the Lord, so this is your place to claim.
Read Isaiah 38:19 again –
The living, the living, he thanks you,
as I do this day;
the father makes known to the children
In Isaiah’s psalms, God reassures me and whispers hope in my ear. The father does indeed make known to the children God’s faithfulness, to each one of us, as His precious child. We can share the Good News of God’s salvation as Isaiah does in verse 20, because God the Father has left it open in His Word for all of us to see and hear and be a part of.
Hezekiah is desperate to worship the Lord in response to His faithfulness (v.23), but dear one, the worship began long before recovery. The worship began with the eyes of a child raised up to the Father that longs to embrace us and tend to every wound. Before Isaiah was at peace with what God was working in His life, He turned His face to Him in prayer.
Raise your arms up today and let God hold you. In my opinion the best part of the promise for Hezekiah is found early in the chapter. Look again at the first part of Isaiah 38:5 –
“Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears…”
The strong arms of our Father sent Jesus Christ, His Son, to dry our tears with His death and resurrection. One day those tears will be no more in heaven. This promise is for you and for your children, for you and every child of God around you. Each of you a dear child to His Father’s heart.
What has been the hardest part of being a mom for you personally or what is your least favorite part of being ill? (Emotional, practical, or gross) 😉
What promise or truth, whether pretty or hard, sticks out to you in Hezekiah’s prayer in Isaiah 38?
Peek ahead to Isaiah 40:1. How does this verse remind us of God’s Fatherly affection for us?