"There is no sweeter manner of living in the world than continuous communion with God.” —Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
“What is the point?”
This was my desperate search for meaning in the hospital after I gave birth to my second child. Just hours before, my husband and I had walked into the labor-and-delivery wing, fully confident that all would be well. We had gone through the childbirth routine before, so we were already prepared to celebrate with our newborn son in our arms. Labor came a month earlier than expected, but we had no concerns — just excitement. We were joyfully confident that God was with us, having also the prayers of loved ones who waited in anticipation.
Yet when my son arrived, trauma crashed the party. The room immediately noticed the concerning shades of purple and blue on his face, so the nurses whisked him away for tests.
I was left to recover in silent confusion. My mind scrambled to process what was happening. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hold my son until 24 hours later, and even then, it wasn’t without the tubes, wires, and beeping machines that were required to keep him stable in the intensive care unit. Disappointment clouded my spirit, and I asked, “Why would God allow this?”
I was a firm believer that God can heal, and in my several years as a pastor, I had witnessed and experienced God doing the inexplicable countless times. So, there I was, in my fragile post-delivery state, begging Jesus to do what I knew would be easy for Him.
“Lord, please heal my son.”
I thought it was a reasonable ask. Yet not long after this prayer, a nurse walked into the recovery room to deliver more disappointing news. The test results weren’t promising, and they needed to increase his oxygen to support his premature lungs. Under the pressure of my dismay, sorrow began mutating into frustration. Where was God?
I continued to plead, “Lord, please heal my son.”
Each day, doctors and nurses came in to explain why more blood work needed to be done and why taking him home wasn’t an option. Their matter-of-fact explanations were void of compassion, just as the room felt like it was void of God. Eventually, my desperate prayers slowed to a resentful silence. I had called, but He refused to answer — or so it felt. Perhaps my screaming silence would be heard instead.
The fear was so demanding that I could only conclude that God had abandoned me. It didn’t feel as if He was there, and even if He was, it wasn’t enough for me. What if faith bears no visible results during times of despair? What, then, is the point of faith?
One day turned to three very quickly, and I was told that I wouldn’t be able to take my baby boy home from the hospital, that I would have to leave him in the care of nurses and machines while I drove away. My heart could hardly bear it. I needed to storm into the throne room of God. I had a bone to pick with the King. Yet this pent-up angst was dressed in a hospital gown and still vulnerably healing, so I did the only thing I could do — opened my journal and held my pen, although I had no words to write. I had nothing to say, no song to sing. Still, I felt a voice say to me, “Give thanks.”
Thank You for the nurses.
Thank You for the clean hospital room.
My list of thanksgiving that I thought was for Jesus was actually His love letter to me. Forty more minutes of writing passed, and my heart thawed. An unraveling began as I started to recognize the signs of God’s steadfast care all over my life. How kind He had been all this time! I became profoundly aware that, right there in that hospital room, I was before the blazing, shining Presence of Jesus.
That night, not only did I know that He was with me, but I also felt it. It felt like a firm, warm hug, the kind that makes you feel safe and seen. During my journaling, another nurse walked in to tell me that my son wasn’t doing any better. Regardless, I kept scribbling the evidence that proved God was still with me because my heart was immersed in love.
It was enough.
My purpose in that moment was to know Him — not in theory but in friendship. Jesus is the point. He is the reward. Knowing His Presence is the purpose of the wilderness. This revelation was God’s gift to me in that dark hospital room. Another gift came a week later when I was able to take my healthy, growing boy out of the NICU and to his own crib at home.
Excerpted from Experiencing Friendship with Godby Faith Eury Cho. Copyright © 2023 by Faith Eury Cho. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Faith Eury Cho is the author of Experiencing Friendship with God, CEO and founder of the Honor Summit, a nonprofit organization that centers Asian American women in the mission of God. Alongside her husband, Pastor David Cho, Faith is co-founder and co-pastor of Mosaic Covenant Church in New Jersey. She and David have four children.