The Lord Stood With Me


The hurting can help the hurting. The “ministry of the smile” can come through someone experiencing trial and suffering. Contagious joy can flow from a person in spite of their seemingly hopeless situations.

How?

“…the Lord stood with me and gave me strength (2 Tim. 4:17).”

“Hold me Lord. Wrap your arms around me. Let me feel your physical presence,” are the words my lips continued to repeat aloud and silently as my body was prepared for an emergency delivery. During those precious hours, I felt arms wrap around my heart and was overcome by the joy and the peace of the Lord.

Our Miracle Arrives

That night, as I delivered our 2 pound, 13 ounce miracle, again, the joyful, peaceful presence of the Lord fell on me like a heavy rain. Gone was the fear that loomed over the circumstances of our son’s birth – our hope was built on the Lord’s love and faithfulness. I could smile and I could gift this smile to the nurses and doctors who worked tirelessly to guide me safely through delivery and help usher Jason Jacob Williams II (JJ) into the world.

I took that smile with me as I visited JJ for the first time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). This time, my smile was received by a compassionate nurse on the overnight shift who was not only using all of her knowledge and medical giftings to save our son, but also to gently give us assurance that our son would make it through the night.

Each time over the next few months that I called out to the Lord, He listened and was faithful to draw closer to me than I knew possible. Supernaturally, He restored my peace in the darkest moments of hearing the monitors scream the announcement that our son’s heart had stopped beating.

“…the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).”

Dwelling in the presence of the Lord – talking with Him, saturating myself and my son in His holy Word gave me everything I needed to continue smiling in spite of everything I witnessed in the physical.

Yes, there were moments of inconsolable weeping. There were days that JJ’s coloring was so ashen and his stats so dismal that I had to drown out the enemy’s whispers with worship and rely on the prayers and counsel of Christian friends to help hold me up in my weakness. There were days when I longed to hold my baby but was restricted from even touching him.

As I opened my eyes each new day, my breath would catch in my chest as I grabbed my phone to check the email the NICU nurses sent each morning around 3a.m. to see if he’s had any “episodes” and, if so, how severe they were. Before entering the NICU at the wash in stations, I would pray that I would find JJ as he was before I left him the last time – alive – and feel guilty for having taken so long away from him to eat my lunch.

Yet, the Lord took me by the hand and walked with me as I received healing by ministering to young mothers who hadn’t yet tasted of His goodness. He used my smile to break down their defenses and speak to places – the deep, hurting places – brought to the surface by the tragedy they were experiencing.

I met and loved mothers who lost their babies. I sat with them and mourned. We shared together in the pain and their loss seemed as mine. It still does two years later.

Daily Confessions

Day after day, I continued to sit by my son’s side clinging to the Word of God and claiming it over him. My daily confessions included:

“Jesus is Lord over JJ’s spirit, JJ’s soul and JJ’s body (Phil. 2:9-11).”

“JJ is the Body of Christ. He is redeemed from the curse, because Jesus bore his sicknesses and carried his diseases in His own body. By His stripes, he is healed. I forbid any sickness or disease to operate in His body. Every organ, every tissue of his body functions in the perfection in which God created it to function. JJ honor’s God and brings glory to Him in his body (Gal. 3:13; Matt 8:17; 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Cor. 6:20).”

The Lord gave me the opportunity to pray these confessions over JJ’s roommates including JJ’s first NICU friend, Luke. Luke was in the very first isolette next to JJ’s in the NICU room reserved for the most critical patients. Luke was born even smaller than JJ – not quite two pounds – and without one of his legs.

The months passed, my birthday (also JJ’s birthday), Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s, Mardi Gras came and went. Most of the women who had become my friends left and went home with their babies and new arrivals came. Some of those who went home later came back to visit and give the blessing of comfort and companionship to me.

Depression reared it’s ugly head as time went on. The mornings were the hardest. I missed waking up to my three-year-old little girl, Grace. I missed watching movies on the couch with our seventeen-month old son Isaac. I missed our home and the way our lives were before the fateful day I was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital’s high risk unit. I wanted to sleep in my own bed again and read bed time stories to our children.

These mornings were some of my most intense moments of spiritual warfare. Standing in the shower, I would turn up – no, blast- my worship music, cry out to the Lord with fresh tears and demand that He restore the peace and joy His Word promises. Faithful God that He is, He restored it each time.

And so, I continued each day during these few months with enough hope, joy and peace to fill me and overflow from me into others because:

“…the Lord stood with me and gave me strength (2 Tim. 4:17).”

Although we brought JJ home exactly two years ago today on Monday, February 15th, our journey is far from over.

We’ve endured heart monitors, re-hospitalizations, countless specialist and pediatrician visits, eating challenges, weight gain challenges, antibiotic immunities, a moderate cerebral palsy diagnosis, seizures, developmental clinics, occupational therapy, physical therapy and so much more that the Lord continues to help us navigate. Through it all, the Lord is teaching me that fear is a liar and only serves to steal the joy our Father holds for us.

Today, I look back lovingly on those days and the deep communion I experienced with my beloved Lord and others in that hospital. I look at my son, JJ, and I see the faces of those who I had an opportunity to pour His love out on – nurses, doctors, mothers, hospital educators, administrators – and I ask the Lord to continue to grant me the “ministry of the smile.”

“His Kingdom come. His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven (Matt. 6:10).”

Our Prayer


Father God, you are the source of all love, peace and joy. Your presence has the power to break through the darkness and usher in the light. We ask you to give us the “ministry of the smile” even through our own trials. Allow the world to see your love on display. Help us be vessels to show others the power and strength your love supplies.

In Jesus’ beautiful name,
Amen

Scriptures for Meditation


~Proverbs 18:10

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.

~ Psalm 34:17

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.

~ Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

~ Exodus 15:2

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him—  my father’s God, and I will exalt him!

~ Deuteronomy 31:8

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

~ Isaiah 30:15

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.

JJ Today


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