Friday, July 13, 2012

Baby Aiden and a Crisis of Faith

 This sleeping little beauty is named Aiden Smith. He is only weeks old and has been diagnosed with Pertussis, which is commonly known as whooping cough. Aiden is too young to have received the vaccine. He is hospitalized here in Oklahoma City and has been on Ecmo life support for the past three weeks. The situation is becoming increasingly dire as he must be off of the life support machine and able to maintain his own functions very soon, as there is an infection in an Ecmo tube that is planted in his body, and this infection must not reach him. Efforts recently have focused on decreasing Ecmo flows so that Aiden has a shot of breathing and maintaining his own heart rate once they must shut off the machine.
We were first introduced to Aiden's situation by our friend Laurie, who is a family friend of the Smiths. The story is heartbreaking, and I can really sympathize with Laurie on what it feels like to have a great friend with a very ill baby. As Laurie told me more about Aiden over that first week, I gradually became more invested in this sick little baby. The family maintains a Facebook page named "50 for Aiden," and it thus makes it even easier to get oneself wrapped up in this child and his story through daily updates and pictures.

I cannot tell you how close to my heart this situation is. I have never kissed or held this boy, and I have never shaken his mother's (Kristen's) hand. The closest person that I know who personally knows this family is Laurie. And yet, I can honestly say that I think about this boy a thousand times a day. I have shed countless tears for him and his family. As he failed to go longer than 3.5 minutes today off the Ecmo, I openly sobbed as I processed the information that time is now running that much shorter. My heart has felt gripped in sadness for three long weeks. I find myself asking, how can this be? Why does this happen to children? Why do babies like Owen and Aiden suffer, and why do they potentially not get chances to live like I have, like most people get to? It is patently unfair.

It seems to me that the older I get and the more tragedy I see, the more my faith begins taking different forms. Please understand me here: when I use the word "tragedy," I am specifically referring to the fatal accidents and illnesses that have afflicted children in my life...I'm not even accounting for the adults. People call me a compassionate person, and I know that I have been created by One who is far more compassionate than me, One who has created compassion itself. So I just have to wonder, why this? Why does this happen? If my heart hurts beyond belief for this young child, then imagine the pain in God's heart, and why isn't He doing anything about it? What I have come to believe recently is that He can't do anything about it.

Some of you might remember my post in which I called myself blasphemous (indeed a former friend believed that of me as well and she has since sadly terminated our friendship because of my post). In that post, I iterated that I love God and believe Him capable of intervening in our lives, but have come to believe that He won't intervene for reasons that I cannot question. Well, my soul-searching has evolved from that point to a place that I feel fairly comfortable with; what I am concluding (based on my own experiences, not yours) is that God has created a world in which He has given us control and has put Himself into the passenger seat. He attempts to guide us with His love, His beautiful creation with all of its amazing qualities, and His promise of Heaven, but ultimately He does not control what we do or what happens to us. I cannot tell you how refreshing this idea, called the Arminian viewpoint, is to me. I was beginning to struggle from a real crisis of faith as I wondered constantly about the intersection between God's mercy and His almightiness. I wondered, is a God that controls every little detail and causes every affliction actually a merciful God? My last post made no secret of the fact that I do NOT believe that God plans for accidents, illness, or natural disasters. But why isn't He stopping them, regardless? I tell you, I feel so much better about my God and His beauty when I pause to consider that He put a world into creation without imposing Himself upon it, and now these accidents are not His doing, nor can He stop them (which is why He doesn't often seem to). He has completely relinquished His control. Lamentations 3:33 says, "For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men."  Amen that He doesn't. And if He could stop the heartache, He would.

God offers me love, support, peace, and an eternal place to rest. He offers me wisdom and mercy. All of these I accept gladly from Him, and I believe it pleases Him when I act in accordance to goodness and peacefulness; after all, these very qualities come from Him. As a friend of mine said, He is there for us to help us through problems, but He cannot fix them for us. He has simply relinquished that control.

Please join me in praying for peace for Aiden and his family. If it was me, I would desperately be in need of it.

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