Have you ever felt like in the midst of your own personal hardship that God had taken an extended vacation? Have you cried so hard your knees hurt for God to reveal himself… “any small sign will do, Lord”.. yet.. nothing? Are you there, God?
It’s easy to feel God’s presence when life is clicking along, when your work, home, church life are synced in perfect harmony. It’s easy to see God in the success of your job, in the achievements of your children, when the world is spinning around without much conflict. But in the challenging times, heartbreak, loss, that unwanted diagnosis, riots, shootings, racial injustice, division, financial ruin, pandemic (the list can go on) we often struggle to see our Creator. Are you there, God?
Proverbs 20:12 says “Ears that hear and eyes that see— the Lord has made them both.” While I’m not certain I have heard the voice of the Lord, I have most definitely seen His presence, even in times when my eyes could not see.
In the Fall of 2002 my life was seemingly perfect. I was newly married, working at my “dream job” and in the process of building our “dream home.” Everything was moving along as planned. My biggest dilemma was deciding which restaurant to eat at on Saturday nights. My husband, Mark and I talked about expanding our family but we both agreed to wait a few years. It’s funny how we strategically write out our lives and God comes along and tosses our day planner into the wind. “You know I’m in charge here, right?” Soon after this conversation we found out we were expecting. Even though this wasn’t a part of my perfectly planned year, we were both ecstatic. I had visions. I knew we would have a boy. I just knew he would have white blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes. I had a seemingly perfect pregnancy. However, something in my gut told me to pray for my unborn son, specifically that he would not be born with a cleft palate. Now, I know this seems silly in the big scheme of things, but I felt the urge to pray every time I got in my car (which was a lot!) Boldly, I prayed, “Lord Jesus, I humbly ask that our baby boy is not born with a cleft palate.”
Fast forward to July 8, 2003, Mason John Weinberg came into our world three weeks early. He was a beautiful baby with a head full of white blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Just as I had planned. Ha! After many hours of concern from the medical staff, we learned our son was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Say what?! Down syndrome? I thought only older moms had babies with Down syndrome. I didn’t understand as we were healthy 27 year olds. Is he going to die? Why God, why would you do this? Is this punishment from my past sin? Are you there, God?
So many emotions raced through my mind. Heartbreak, grieving the child I thought I had, and anger towards God. This can’t be, this isn’t a part of my plan. I kept praying God would show up and take this diagnosis away. I was mad and felt betrayed. Why would God create a baby that was destined for ridicule in this cruel, broken world? Are you there God?
Weeks later, I realized that my eyes were as good as blind. It wasn’t until I took off my Holy blinders and saw in the midst of questioning God’s untimely vacation from my life that He was in our hospital room the entire time. The doctor that initially told us of Mason’s diagnosis asked if he could pray for us. This kind man just happened to be the doctor on call .. and was an active board member of our local Down Syndrome Association. Hmmm. The next day, we requested to see the hospital minister to bless our son. Who would have thought this young father had a two year old daughter with Down syndrome. God, how did I not see you? My lactation nurse, who became a staple in my life for months to come was a proud new Grandma to a baby boy.. can you guess what he was born with?
I know this was no coincidence. God strategically placed these people in our path to show us we were not alone, that He was with us. Ears to hear and eyes to see.
In 2007 Mason had a quick procedure to remove his adenoids. Afterwards, our ENT explained how fortunate we are that Mason didn’t need his tonsils removed. “You see, it seems he was forming a cleft palate in utero.” I’m not sure how, but it fused together,” he explained. Are you there, God? Why, Yes, I am.
To say I was blown away would be an understatement. It was as if God took me by the shoulders and said, “my child, do you see Me, do you hear Me? I’m here.. with you.. always.”
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you, plans to give you hope and a future,” Jeremiah 29:11.
Friends, God is with us. Even when we feel like He’s checked out or too busy to hear our prayers. Even when our lives come to a screeching halt from the darkness of this broken world. Sometimes we need to escape the dense fog and the constant buzz in our minds. We should open our ears and our eyes. Only then can we fully experience God’s Holy presence.
I love the song “There Was Jesus” by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton. The chorus reminds us that he is with us always.
In the waiting, in the searching
In the healing, in the hurting
Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces
Even minute, every moment
Where I’ve been or where I’m going
Even when I didn’t know it
Or couldn’t see it
There was Jesus
Today, Mason is a thriving 17 year old that loves his family, friends, school and sports. He can tell you any statistic about most college and professional football and basketball teams. He is funny, smart, strong (he can beat most at arm wrestling) and loves Jesus. If we could only have unabashed faith like Mason, this world would no doubt be a more peaceful place. Mason doesn’t see race, disabilities or what society says is “normal” or perfect. He sees the heart of others. I am so thankful for the gift of being Mason’s mom. God has blessed our family. He gave Mark and I the ability to see perspective, to not sweat the little stuff and to trust that God always has our back. He gave our other boys compassion. I am not sure they would have without Mason as their brother. Mason is a light and brings joy into our lives and everyone he meets.
Friends, God loves you. Grab a hold of His hand. Will your path have bumps and turns that throw us to the ground? Yes. But God never promised us it wouldn’t. Open your eyes and listen closely, you will notice the beautiful presence of our Creator every step of the way. Ears to hear, eyes to see. God bless you.