Wednesday, May 5, 2010

God's Sovereignty In The Midst Of Trials

I love the book of James in the New Testament. One of my heroes, Martin Luther, actually had quite an amount of disdain for the book, calling it "a book of straw", mainly because he thought James approved of the idea that salvation could be attained by works, but of course James falls in line with every other book of the New Testament in terms that we as sinners are justified by faith alone, not by works.

I make that point because even as I was typing the title of this post I couldn't help but think of James 1:2-3 when he says "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness" (ESV translation). Since this is my first post on The Voice, I just wanted to fill everyone in on where my life is right now and how I am trying to glorify God through my trial, and how His sovereignty is on display for all to see through the trial as well.

My wife Joni and I just had our second son last Friday, April 30th. We had a beautiful baby boy, and we named him Charlie Hadden Rice. When we left to go to the hospital early last Friday morning, I had absolutely no idea what was waiting for me on the other side of the delivery room. My wife's planned C-section went great. Good as it gets as far as C-sections go I suppose. And then came time for me to take the baby to the nursery, and I noticed how he had a lot of attention from nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists, and I knew then that something wasn't quite right. I had to wait about 30 minutes in the lobby with my family and my wife's family, and the staff wouldn't bring Charlie out.

A nurse eventually came and got me and told me he was going to have to go to the Neonatal ICU (NICU for short) and that his lungs weren't as mature as they would have liked. Now granted, my son was about 3 weeks early, but he was full term so this should have been no problem right? Wrong. Things went from bad to worse quick. What I thought (and probably everyone else also) was going to be a one nighter in the NICU turned into a one week stay, and in the time that he was in the care of the NICU, both of his lungs collapsed.

I don't know how many parents are out there reading this, but to have to see your child with more artificial tubes than an octopus on his body not only deflates your spirit, but it causes your mind to go to places where it ought not to go. I was so scared and shocked those first two days, all I could find myself doing was crying and praying, usually in that order.

During my trial I never took my eyes off Jesus, but man did I ask a lot of questions, like "why him God?", or "why now, Lord?". I wrestled with a lot of emotions during the first few days, but eventually my small hope in who I knew God was and is, began to grow, little by little. Like a light at the end of the tunnel (and no, that other light was not an oncoming train) I saw how God was working this situation not for sorrowful purposes, but that I may be rooted more deeply in His love, and understand that his sovereignty was absolute in my life. Those first two verses that I quoted from James have entirely changed my outlook on what I may go through in my life. We don't have pleasure and joy in the trials themselves, but we know that the sovereign hand of God guides us through the trials, not just for His glory (which He does, by the way), but for our joy as well.

ryan rice

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