Grandmama Helen has been in ICU since Saturday. Since Saturday, our family has been in and out of her room, taking turns being with her - sometimes one at a time, other times several of us sitting in a row hoping and praying they won't make some of us leave. If you've ever had a loved one in the hospital, you probably know what it's like.
Sitting. Waiting. Pacing. Watching. Sitting. Watching. Waiting. Watching.
Watching the monitors. Watching for signs of agitation. Watching for her eyes to open. Watching loved ones to assess how they're handling everything. Watching nurses come in and out. Watching facial expressions of the nurses and doctors to discern if there is a reason to hope or a reason to fear. Watching how quickly a nurse responds to one of many alarms so we'll know next time if it's an alarm to fear. Watching people care for her when I don't know what to do. Watching people lean on one another. Watching the IVs drip … drip … drip. Watching the doctor talk to the nurse to see if he whispers something to her that he didn't tell us. Watching for something to happen. Watching for direction from the Lord.
In the midst of all the watching this morning, I did my daily Bible reading. I read about the Passover in Exodus 12, and I was encouraged in an unexpected way.
You may remember the events that led up to the Passover. Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, and God put him in a position of authority just under the Pharaoh in Egypt. By being in that place of authority, God used Joseph to save Egypt and his family during a great famine that lasted seven years. All of Egypt was grateful for Joseph, and his family moved into town. After Joseph's death, a new generation of Egyptians forgot about him, and they mistreated the Israelites. That mistreatment turned into cruel slavery, and God heard His people cry out to Him to save them. He heard them and raised up Moses to free His people. He used a series of plagues to accomplish His mission.
The tenth plague was the death of all the firstborn in Egypt. In order for their firstborn to be spared, God gave Israel a special set of instructions, chief among which were each family roasting and eating a lamb without blemish and spreading its blood on the lentil and doorposts of their door. Then death would pass over them.
That had to be a terrifying night. There was such a sense of urgency as they obeyed God's instructions and prepared their meals. Then, oh then, when death came through and the screaming and wailing started in all of Egypt. Oh, how terrifying that must have been as they waited, watched, and trusted God to keep His word.
And He did. He kept His word. Their firstborn were spared.
And Pharaoh said they could leave. So all of Israel grabbed what they could in great haste, including a whole bunch of gold from all the Egyptians who were more than eager for them to leave, and they left in the night.
And here's the verse that encouraged me:
"It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations" (Exodus 12:42).
Did you see the word "watching"? The Lord watched His people whom He had just freed. When I read that verse, I conjured up the image of a mother watching her sick child through the night, an active watching. A tender, loving, protective watching.
There is a difference, though. The mother may experience fear of the unknown as she watches, like Israel may have experienced fear the night of the Passover. God does not experience fear of the unknown, for He is sovereign, omnipotent. He knows all things. Nothing catches Him off guard. He is in control, working all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
The same God who watched the Israelites that night is watching my grandmother right now, and He's watching all of us watching, too. He isn't surprised when an alarm beeps or when Grandmama Helen seems agitated. He knows what the doctor is going to say before the doctor says it. He understands the numerous emotions we're experiencing.
So, as I watch, I'll be thinking of the Lord watching, especially when I'm here having my own "night of watching". And I'll be comforted.