The Lion's Tears

 

My Dear Friends,

After 24 days in the NICU we’re finally home! What a joy it is! My wife and I must thank you again for the outpouring of love and support we’ve received. It has been truly over the top and deeply appreciated. 

Maggie is quite well. In spite of her genetic condition she doesn’t have any immediate health concerns to speak of. She spends her days (and nights) crying, eating, pooping, and sleeping. Her mother and I are relishing every snuggle, and cute baby noise, and smile (though we’re not sure if they’re conscious yet or still BM induced). Oh yes, and we’re relishing every moment of sleep our new schedule allows as well (which is not as much as we’re used to).

I’ll try not to wax long here, but I’d like to share some thoughts I’ve had over these last few weeks.

Bringing another human being into the world is an enterprise fraught with uncertainty. There is so much we don’t and can’t know about what this little person will be or what they will become or what they will go through in life, even in the earliest stages! Through my daughter, God has reminded me that I am not in control of the universe. I can can worry, fret, and fight my way through life as though it were my enemy, or choose to take what comes with gratitude and patience and make the best of what I’m given.

My daughter’s birth has also reminded me that there is much that even God is not directly in control of. God is certainly Lord over all creation, men and angels and demons too are His subjects, but none are His puppets, all are given free moral agency. Even the natural world, though directly sustained by God, is not necessarily under His direct control. He steps in at times to be sure, but He is not the immediate cause of every natural process. The point is that God is not the author of sin, nor is He the author of the destruction, disease, and pain that follow in its wake.

There’s more I could say on this subject, but I won’t try for nuanced perfection here. Just one last thing about suffering.

The first day Maggie was in the NICU was the hardest. That evening a friend picked me up and took me to a book store. I had been thinking of reading The Chronicles of Narnia as part of my year long C. S. Lewis reading emphasis, and I decided that the moment had come. At the book store that evening, providentially, I picked up the book numbered 1, The Magician’s Nephew (I would later decide to read the series in it’s original order which would put TMN at number 6). I began reading it as soon as I got back to the hospital.

One of the main characters of the story is a boy named, Digory. Right from the first chapter you learn that Digory’s mother is ill and near death, and his heart is broken. When he finds himself magically transported to a new world, hope springs forth that he just might find something there that will cure his mother. Near the end of the story Aslan the Lion asks Digory to do his part to help right a wrong the boy had done to the new world of Narnia. (I read the following on Maggie’s second day in the NICU when we still didn’t know what was wrong, and we hadn’t yet been able to hold her or feed her, and I was hurt and scared.)

“Yes,” said Digory. He had had for a second some wild idea of saying “I’ll try to help you if you’ll promise to help my Mother,” but he realized in time that the Lion was not at all the sort of person one could try to make bargains with. But when he had said “Yes,” he thought of his Mother, and he thought of the great hopes he had had, and how they were all dying away, and a lump came in his throat and tears in his eyes, and he blurted out: “But please, please–won’t you–can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?” Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.
C. S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew, p. 153,4

 

Peace be with you,

John Millea