Have you ever watched the television series House M.D.? House follows the story of a pain killer addicted, anti-social, and somewhat snarky medical doctor, Gregory House. He and his team of doctors systematically diagnose some of the toughest to pin down illnesses you’ll ever see. The television series is in its eighth season. My wife and I have watched much of this series, but we never suspected that our household would go through a real life experience that might as well have been an episode of House.
At eleven this morning my wife called me and told me that my youngest daughter Adalie had thrown up during her nap. This is irregular for Adalie. She is just over one year and has only had one episode of vomiting. My wife kept an eye on her over the next few hours. During that time she threw up a second time, and her breathing became rapid and heavy. No fever accompanied her condition. At 2 o’clock my wife asked me to come home and watch our eldest two while she took Adalie to the doctor.
After seeing the doctor and a very brief examination, for whatever reason, the doctor asked Kendall to take Adalie to the ER. The doctor described the situation as if Adalie was breathing on one lung. The doctor asked about any choking episodes, which none had taken place as far as we were aware.
My wife crossed the street with Adalie and checked here into the ER. Over the course of the next eight hours little Adalie underwent a chest X-Ray and lab tests. The X-Ray returned clean. They also ruled out RSV, a respiratory virus. After giving her breathing treatments, it seemed that Adalie improved. Yet, for the time being we don’t know what is wrong. Right now little Adalie is on an IV and is staying the night for observation. Mommy has an overnight bag and is staying with her.
All this leads me to think: What do we do when our life becomes an episode of House? This is just how I process, so follow along with me as I share four practical things that I did in the face of these circumstances.
1. We pray.
As soon as it was apparent that something serious was afoot, I texted my wife Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” This has been my ongoing posture for the rest of the day.
Even when I was preoccupied with cooking dinner for our other two kids or walking our dog, I kept tossing up what the Puritans refer to as “ejaculatory prayers” — short prayers that cry out to God with earnest need. These are my cries of helplessness, knowing only that God will be my help.
Peter O’Brien’s commentary on Philippians 4:6 in the New International Greek Testament Commentary aptly says this when referring to the phrase “in everything”:
Paul utters a prayerful wish that their requests may indeed be made known to God … The Phrase means ‘in all thing’ or ‘in every situation’, that is, in every circumstance, rather than ‘always’. (492)
It’s not that we shouldn’t always first turn to God but that, regardless of the situation — its urgency, scope, commitment — we should give that situation to God. No problem is too big or too small for Him to rescue us from our anxiety or worry.
2. We share.
As soon as we discovered that Adalie was going to the ER, we started sharing. I called my parents and Kendall’s dad. I notified our prayer team at Church. I shared via social media. The response overwhelmed me. There is something super comforting about the prayers of the saints wafting up to God as a sweet aroma to Him.
When you share, try to be brief and precise. Let people know precisely what to pray about, and how they can help. Take the opportunity to not just share circumstances but also gospel. You see, not everyone that takes interest may believe. This might just be an opportunity given by God to share the gospel with someone who is in dire need of hearing it.
I am reminded of Mary A’s story in James Janeway and Cotton Mather’s A Token for Children. As young Mary lay dying at the age of 12, her neighbors visited her. They asked if she would be leaving them. Mary responded: “If your serve the Lord, you shall come to me in glory” (19).
You never know how or in what way these kind of events lead to salvation for the lost. We must make the most of these times for the Most High just like little Mary did for her neighbors. She never wasted on opportunity to make the gospel known.
3. We accept help.
Once we’ve shared and requested help, if help needed, then we must accept it. This is particularly difficult for me. I never want to “put anyone out.” So I try my best to manage without any additional help. I imagine many people do likewise. In spite of our helplessness, this is some small way where we operate under the guise of control.
We must resist this urge and permit others to be hospitable to us. 1 Peter 4:9-10 says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Accepting help allows others to fulfill their role of loving and exercising the spiritual gifts God has given them. Accept help and praise God for it.
4. We Update.
Finally, a critical component to not forget is updating everyone. Many people are anxiously awaiting your update. Be sure to give them one that will allow them to sleep through the night. Let there be some sort of resolution, even if it means saying that the resolution is that there is no resolution.
For instance, tonight Adalie is staying at the hospital for observation. There is no resolution to what the problem is for her. Yet, I took the time to let everyone know what is going on and what to expect for the night. They all know the circumstances and are able to rest and wait to hear further information tomorrow. Giving clear and succinct updates is critical.
Entrust Your Situation to the Great Physician
We have a great physician with whom we can entrust every situation. Only Jesus can bring ultimate healing and final resolution to all our wearisome ways. Thus, we must entrust the care of our lives to Him. We must let him handle hard things that we wish we could only handle. He came to bring healing to the sick — by sick I refer to our eternal fallen condition in need of reconciliation to God — we need to let Him do it. Our anxiety and the overwhelming sense that we are out of control is an obvious reminder of the truth. The world is fallen and needs restoration. Christ came to restore us to Him for His glory.
But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick.” Matthew 9:12