FRIDAY: JOY by Aubrey Kleinfeld

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 91, Psalm 16, Ephesians 3:16-21

At around 3:30 the morning of July 19, 2009, as a medical team surrounded our 14 month old daughter Eden in the PICU at VCU Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia, Dr. Chada said her chances were slim, but he would do everything in his power to help her survive. He diagnosed her with HUS, a condition caused by the Ecoli bacteria, and said we had 14 days to help her kidneys recover before there would be irreparable damage. In the quiet of the room, dressed from head to toe in coverings and masks, and as our tiny daughter lay unresponsive, I turned to Josh and said, “I’m telling you now, I cannot do this alone, so no matter what happens, I am going to turn toward God rather than away from Him during this time. I will not blame Him, I am going to trust Him.”

I knew my fragility, my tendency to blame, to shut myself off from the God who is with us. That simple choice in His presence and in the presence of my husband was my prayer. The morning of day one, I received Psalm 91 from a friend through text, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Dwell became my petition. Dwell, dwell, dwell. What else could I do, but dwell? Paradoxically, in dwelling, I found rest.

On day two, Eden began peritoneal dialysis after hemodialysis was unsuccessful. As we sat with her, touching her pale skin as the machine did the work her kidneys could not do, there was a time period when the whirring stopped and the digital screen read, “dwell.” I wept. Through the sage green digital words, God supernaturally spoke, “I’m here with you, Aubrey, dwell with Me here.”

Through the pestilence of unknowing, waiting, medical mishaps, needles, tubes, surgeries, grieving the death of other children in the unit, the metallic scent/taste/feeling that permeated every sense, God was with us. For fourteen days, we felt deeply the longing of the whole world, the longing for hope and redemption as we longed and begged for Eden’s healing. God’s faithfulness was our shield, our rampart. As we silently craved healing and were too shocked and numb to know how to pray, the physical presence of Christ’s body dwelled with us. The Church prayed, brought food and people and letters and signs, and wore yellow in solidarity. The joy we felt on the morning of the fifteenth day, when the nursed checked Eden’s diaper and found it full, evidence of the beginning of healing, was unexplainably just that, FULL. In His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16).

This Advent season, as Eden is approaching her 10th year of life with minimal scars and affects from what happened eight years ago, I encourage you wherever you are to dwell with Him. God IS here with us: both supernaturally and physically in Christ’s body, the Church. Turn toward Him. In His presence is fullness of joy.

God, we pray that we would discover the joy of dwelling with You, of abiding in Your presence.
Reveal to us the unspeakable fullness of joy that is found in Emmanuel, God with us.

Josh Kleinfeld