Guest post written by Sue Stratman
"Hernia surgery would be a 'piece of cake,' we were told by the medical staff as they prepped him for the surgery. But hours later, that surgery proved to be anything but routine; it became our worst nightmare..."
Music is powerful. There's no doubt about that.
However, the stories attached to a specific song or piece of music can be even more powerful.
Such is the case with the story you are about to hear.
I recently asked a friend and former professor of mine to retell an experience she had almost 20 years ago and I was so honored when she agreed to do so. I first heard her tell this story during my freshman year at Emmaus Bible College and it has been imprinted on my heart ever since. I assure you, after reading this, you will always think of this story when you hear the beautiful tune of "His Eye is on the Sparrow."
Friends and family, please share the story you are about to read with anyone you know who might be hurting or struggling right now. For truly...this story is for any and all who are hurting.
Sin has had devastating effects on our lives and the lives of everyone around the globe. Sometimes, it may feel like no one cares about us or the deep-seated "scar tissue" of our lives. But that couldn't be any further from the truth. 1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your cares on Him (Jesus Christ) because He cares for you."
The Stratman family recognizes this truth and has embraced it with all of their hearts.
They've had to. And you'll see why in just a moment.
So without further ado, allow me to hand things over to the woman of the hour, Sue Stratman:
Since I was a young girl, I have loved the song, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” But a life-changing event in 1996 gave that song new and special meaning to me. Our 11-year old son, Daniel, was scheduled for “routine” hernia surgery that year—July 10, to be exact. Daniel had already endured three intense open-heart surgeries in his short ten years, so hernia surgery would be a “piece of cake,” we were told by the medical staff as they prepped him for the surgery. But hours later, that surgery proved to be anything but routine; it became our worst nightmare.
Due to mistakes made by the attending anesthesiologist, our precious, active, athletic little boy was given back to us severely and devastatingly brain injured. Basically, the anesthesiologist set the anesthetic too high for too long; she never set the blood pressure machine to monitor Daniel’s blood pressure; and she left the room, leaving a nurse anesthetist student in charge. We would soon find out that if Daniel lived, he would be unable to walk, talk, eat, see, go to the bathroom on his own, or take care of his basic needs—in a vegetative state, for the most part. He would be completely dependent on us—24 hours a day, 7 days a week. His dreams of being a soccer player, of someday becoming a cardiologist…gone! I wrestled and grappled with my faith in a God who would allow such a senseless thing to happen to a precious young boy. He had brought him through three open heart surgeries…for this? A vegetable? This couldn’t be His plan! It just wasn’t fair, just, or loving! A loving God would not allow such a tragedy!
Outside the children’s hospital, I walked—around and around and around that huge complex, questioning, pleading, begging God for answers. In my frustration and anger, I accused Him of not caring, of not loving Daniel—or Jay and me. How could I ever trust Him again? I felt betrayed; it all felt so cruel and evil. God isn’t cruel and evil; why did He not intervene? Where was He when Daniel was lying in that operating room? Why didn’t He “step in and save the day,” as the song says? I was completely undone. And I told Him I was done with Him! I would never trust Him again! As I came back to the front of that hospital for the fourth or fifth time, not too far from the front door, I was suddenly jolted to an abrupt stop.
There, on the ground at my feet, lay a dead sparrow.
I was surprised to see it there because it was clearly not there all the other times I paced that well-trodden path. I was stunned, to say the least. Immediately I sensed the presence of God in my anxious, devastated spirit. And God began breaking through to my aching, breaking mother’s heart. It was as if I heard Him say to me, “Sue, don’t you know how much I love Daniel? Don’t you know that I am in control—that I am going to work all these events out for his good, for your good, and for My glory? Don’t you know that if I see every tiny sparrow that falls to the ground (Matt. 10:31), that I care for you even more? For your son? Don’t you know how much I love you? All I’m asking is that you trust Me.” I was completely undone. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t respond. I was just so deeply touched in my spirit by His presence, by His words of comfort and love and faithfulness. I stood there gazing at that little sparrow—weeping and begging God for forgiveness, for doubting Him and His word, for my lack of faith in an Almighty God Who does all things well. I have never forgotten His loving illustration, nor will I ever forget! That little sparrow changed me, or rather God changed me by literally illustrating His amazing love to me in the form of a dead bird.
And so now, when I sing the words of that beautiful hymn, “His Eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me,” I sing it through tears—tears of gratitude and joy—for those were the words my loving, faithful, gracious God used to cleanse and heal the deepest hurt this mother’s heart has ever known. I will be forever grateful.
Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come, Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home, When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. “Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear, And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears; Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise, When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
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