The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart… Ps. 34:18
The Ronald McDonald House is full of them. Broken hearts, burdens too heavy to bear, and fears that are too awful to be uttered, are all in abundance at this place. Parents of precious bundles that are broken themselves in one way or another. We are strangers turned friends. Ours is a friendship entered by the initiation of the broken hearted. Each one of us has cried enough to fill a river with our tears, and we could fill two more with the tears we’ve refused to allow ourselves to shed. Each one of us has bargained, begged, and pleaded with the Almighty. We have had our fill of worries, and not a one of us has failed to ask God why in heaven’s name couldn’t He have chosen me instead of my child. Denial, anger, blame, depression – the cycles of grief, we’ve all been through them all several times over. Here we are, sharing a house, and we who know of sorrow so well, can easily read it in one another’s eyes. There is no need for happy masks in this place. It is full of understanding. And so the masks come off, and we share.
“How many surgeries has she had?” I dared to ask another mother with a little one with eyes so like my own girls. “I lost count.” She mumbled in reply. “And yours?” “I can’t remember anymore either.” I barely breathed back. “I think this was ten, but I’m not sure.” As our eyes met, understanding registered with each of us. We knew. Friendships were made, and bonds were formed. Stories were told and laughter was shared. This is a good place. It is a safe place for the broken to gather and share. Somehow, in the midst of it all, I knew, He must be very, very near. In this place that houses only the broken hearted, He must be so close.
In the midst of those moments that overwhelm me to the point that I don’t even know what pray, are the moments that I need Him most. And He had the grace to leave me a promise that tells me He is nigh. Sometimes we get so caught up in praying for the healing we so deeply desire, that we miss the grace that He has given now. He is nigh. Truthfully, not one of us parents knows if God will heal our littles here on earth. Oh we pray for it, and we long for it, and we sometimes try to force His words into things He did not mean to manipulate Him to do what we want, and like a petulant child we say, “But you promised…” The truth is, God is God, and we do not know, no matter how much we trust, cry, beg and pray what He will ultimately decide. The truth is, His own Son begged Him to let this cup pass from Him as well. He was brokenhearted. He was carrying a load that was too heavy to bear, and He begged His Father to take it from Him. And God didn’t. Not because He didn’t love His Son more than His own life, or because He was mean, or because He didn’t care. He didn’t because there was a greater purpose that He wanted to fulfill, and that purpose had to come through Jesus’ pain.
The truth is, I don’t know if God will heal my daughter. The truth is, there may be a greater purpose at work that I cannot see. The truth is, He understands, and even more beautifully, HE IS NIGH. The truth is, I am going to chose faith over doubt. I am going to trust in this God that is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart. Because tonight, I am that one that is of a broken heart, and tonight, He IS NIGH unto me.