A newborn baby is a gift from God. See Genesis 33:5 and Hebrews 2:12. They are to be loved, cared for, protected, nurtured, and taught of God and His Word. This is not the future that many of our young ones have, however.
A while ago, the Knoxville News Sentinel, ran an article under the headline “East Tennessee Children’s Hospital treats drug-dependent babies”. Most of these precious babies became dependent on drugs due to abuse of painkillers or anti-anxiety medications used by their mothers during pregnancy. The article spoke of a two-week-old child that exhibited the “telltale signs of a baby agitated and in pain”. The little boy had an open sore on his face from rubbing the skin raw; a scratch on his left cheek; tremors so severe that he was placed in a special area where nurses can watch him 24/7 in case he has seizures or stops breathing.
This little guy is experiencing untold horrors placed upon him by the actions of his mother prior to birth. The article states that the pain for these infants is excruciating. The medical personnel who treat them say the infants suffer from nausea, vomiting, severe stomach cramps and diarrhea that is so severe the skin can blister like a severe burn. And the babies are inconsolable.
I cannot judge this child’s mother for what she did or did not do. I don’t know what circumstances she found herself in other than that she was going to have a baby. I can only pray for this woman, her little baby and his recovery from an addiction that he did not cause but which will likely continue to plague him for the rest of his life.
It would be bad enough if this little tyke was the only child so afflicted. But the numbers show that the club into which he was born is not exclusive to him. Tennessee statistics show that in 1999, drug dependent babies were hospitalized 55 times. In 2011 that had figure skyrocketed to 672 infant hospitalizations due to addiction. In 2015, the Tennessean newspaper blog advised that in 2014 there were 921 drug dependent babies born in Tennessee.
And, these numbers have not gone down. In an April, 2016 news article about the end of a Tennessee law related to incarceration of mothers of drug-dependent babies, USA Today discussed the status of Tennessee’s fight for these helpless babies and stated:
“Roughly 1,000 babies suffering from drug dependence have been born every year since 2013, when the state began requiring all hospitals to report them to the health department.”
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, as cited in a USA Today article entitled Born into suffering, the number of drug dependent babies admitted to intensive care units nearly quadrupled from 2004 through 2013, from 7 to 27 per 1,000 hospital admissions. Vanderbilt University researchers said in the Journal of Perinatology that one affected baby was born every 25 minutes in 2012. That figure is likely higher now.
We cannot continue to harm the unborn generation by killing babies through abortion or by rendering infants incapacitated because of drugs ingested by their mothers. This must stop; but we must recognize that both actions are merely symptoms of the underlying spiritual war raging in our world.
I don’t have any pill, plan or panacea that would stop this travesty.
But I do believe in God and that His Son, Jesus Christ, is the Savior of our souls. I do believe that He came to earth and died on the cross for my sins and for the sins of all who would repent and claim Him as their Savior.
I do believe that the power of sin and evil was defeated when Jesus rose from the dead, the event we celebrate as Easter. I do believe that He will come again and that He has already won the cosmic struggle which is evidenced by the depravity that we see in our world today.
And, I do believe that He can reverse this tide if we repent, seek His strength to withstand the pull of addiction and utilize all the tools He has provided for support, withdrawal assistance and reintroduction of mothers and families into a drug-free existence.
Jesus used little children as living examples when he taught His disciples:
He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Mark 9:36-37. (NIV)
He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
Mark 10:14-16. (NIV)
I look at my own grandchildren and praise the Lord that they are healthy, growing strong and in loving, supportive families. They remind me that I must come to the Lord with the same open, trusting and loving heart that they exhibit when they come to me.
They also remind me that there is a dramatic contrast between their lives and so many children for whom a loving and supportive family is a mere dream, and for those children my heart weeps.
In humble obedience, I believe that we all must pray for these little children. I believe that we must take part in caring for these little ones, trying to give them as much of a life as we can. We need to work with the mothers during pregnancy to stop abortions and the use of drugs. And I believe we must work toward addressing the situations that create the desire to abort children and abuse drugs in the first place.
Above all, we need to point the mothers to the Savior who loves them and their unborn child more than they could ever know.
Father, this horror is too big for me. I feel helpless against its magnitude. But You are all powerful and all wise, and I believe that You are the answer to the problem of addiction of any type. Guide me and give me strength to follow Your lead in doing what I can to help these precious infants who are suffering so upon their birth and to help their mothers understand that drugs are not the solution to any problem.