When We Can't See

"A man’s days are numbered. You know the number of his months. He cannot live longer than the time You have set."  Job 14:5-6

It happened in an instant. It was one of those things, a complete accident. Events all randomly worked together to reach this unexpected end.

Let me back up. A couple of months ago, I learned that my mom would be having a routine surgery. My sister would also be having her baby shower that following weekend. So in all the insanity it takes to make such a decision, I purchased two airline tickets, one for me and one for my toddler. When the time came, I packed our suitcases, loaded the kids, and boarded an airplane with a 3.5 year old and a 2 month old...by myself. Anyone who has ever traveled alone with those neediest of people, the youngest in our society, can agree that it definitely is not fun.

Our visit home was exhausting and wonderful at the same time. When the time came for us to fly home, I was ready for my own bed, my husband's help, and my children in their normal routines. That night, we said our goodbyes, loaded the car, and started down the driveway for the airport. On a whim, I pulled out my phone and checked my email. There in my inbox was an email from Southwest: my flight had been delayed to 11:30PM! I groaned as I told dad the news, and we turned the car around and headed back to the house. There was no point in getting to the airport 5 hours early! We would watch for updates from the comfort of mom and dad's house.

When we got home, we surprised everyone there. I unloaded the kids, unloaded the diaper bag, and we all settled in for the wait. To say this kink in the plan threw us all off would be an understatement. We just didn't really know what to do. It was too early to put the kids to bed, and they wouldn't get to sleep long, anyway. I decided to let them play and hoped it would wear them out for the plane ride home. I sat on the bed with mom while my daughter played at the foot of the bed and watched Disney Jr. After a while, Kate slipped out of the room, I assumed, to see her Gramps in the living room.

I didn't really notice when she came back into the bedroom, but I did notice when she ran from the room into the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and began making choking and coughing noises. I jumped to my feet to see what was going on. Kate was continuously coughing, drooling, and gagging. I grabbed her in my arms and searched her mouth. No evidence of any liquid. I searched the floor. I implored her over and over, "What did you swallow?" Her eyes were big as she cried and shook her head. She was too overwhelmed to answer me.

I carried her into the living room and then the kitchen, searching for any sign of what had happened. That's when one of my family members came into the kitchen and exclaimed, "The medicine! It's gone!"

You see, mom had been on quite a regimen of different medications since her surgery. Being foster parents has made us acutely aware of medicine safety, so during our visit, we had all of mom's medicine out of reach and locked up. We were all extremely cautious to keep the medicine out of sight from Kate. But that night, when we had left, everyone let their guard down. It was just an unusual circumstance that threw us all off our game. Mom's nightly medicine had been placed on the kitchen counter after our departure, and no one remembered to remove it when we surprised them by showing up at the house again. It was, as I said earlier, a complete accident.

Have you ever experienced something like this, where events suddenly move in slow motion? Your heart pounds, the blood drains from your face, and you can't quite think through the best "next step." I had that panicky urge to throw Kate in the car and rush to the hospital, but I also knew we needed to find out what she had ingested. We had to find the cup that had held medicine.

We all walked into mom's room and there it was on the floor, a small cup surrounded by a slew of pills. I dropped to the floor and scooped them up, shaking and praying. Trying to maintain my composure, I handed the cup to my sister and asked in a breathless voice if they could see what pills were missing. I comforted my daughter as I waited for the news. What had she ingested? I was terrified.

Finally, they came to me. All pills were accounted for; she had not ingested one pill! It turns out that in the mix of all pills in that cup, Kate had chosen the one large and only harmless pill. I guess she had been attracted to it since it was a colorful gel cap. When she put it in her mouth, this large pill choked her up as she attempted to swallow it. In the end, no medicine had been ingested. My daughter was safe!

As I hugged Kate that night, I whispered over and over my thanks to the Lord for saving her life. I am fully aware that the events of that night could have ended much differently, much more tragically. I will not dwell on that reality, but I can at least accept that things could have gone differently. And I know, as a believer, that my God was the One who protected Kate. He is the One that said, "No, not tonight. Your days are numbered, and tonight is not the night." His Strong Arm protected my daughter when I did not even know she needed protecting...even when I did not see.

Amidst all the tragedies, heartaches, difficulties, and unexpected strife we face in this life, I wonder how often God prevents such trials from happening to us. How often does He protect us from that traffic accident, that dangerous fall, that deadly sickness? True, His Sovereign hand allows every hardship we face to occur in our lives; He may not be the cause of our pain, but He certainly allows these things to happen. He is the Sovereign God, fully in control, and we can trust that whatever comes our way will ultimately lead to our good and His glory, even when there is pain in the process. Yet we lose sight of His goodness when don't recognize that His Sovereign hand also prevents so much more tragedy from happening to us. We can praise Him for the protection He gives us, and our children, even when we do not know we need protecting...even when we do not see.

Thank You, Lord, that our days are numbered, and You are our Protector as we walk this earth. In this Truth we find that there is no room for fear, because we know the One who is the Giver of Life, both on this earth and eternally.