1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (NKJV)
The Lord has chosen to bless our family with an opportunity for faith, trust, witness and spiritual growth. The Bible says to give thanks in ALL things, rejoice in ALL, never stop praying… so my wife and I thank God for however, whoever and whatever He is going to do in our lives during this trying time.
On Friday July 11, 2008, our 3 year old daughter, Abby, adopted from Guatemala at six months old, was diagnosed with Leukemia.
The previous Wednesday, she acting a little sluggish, and by Thursday it was obvious she was getting a “cold”, probably strep or tonsillitis, a common malady in our brood of seven. Thursday evening we took her to a minor care facility and she tested positive for strep. That night we also noticed she was getting petechiae (tiny “blood dots”) on her neck and cheek. My wife is an RN, I’m fairly medically savvy, and we both knew this was a concern. We decided we would get her in to our Pediatrician immediately the next day.
By morning, several bruises began to appear on Abby, and we were honest enough with ourselves to expect that the word “leukemia” was probably going to be part of our vocabulary in the future. After a day of running tests, the Doctor walked in with results around 3 p.m. and the diagnosis was written all over her face before the words traversed her lips. By sunset, we were at Children’s Hospital in OKC, pumping our three year old full of antibiotics, fresh blood and fluids.
On Monday (I’m writing this Saturday night), Abby will get a bone marrow aspiration, a biopsy, a spinal tap and her first dose of chemo. The leukemia type will be determined and a treatment journey laid out. Monday will not be fun, but should be full of blessing and opportunity to minister.
“How are you doing?” we are repeatedly asked.
We are neither casual nor despondent. As Christians, we have no reason to despair, nor is this a light burden. Abby could die. Abby could be healed. Abby could live a long life. Abby could be with us a few years and relapse, which statistically, is probable death. We pray of course for Abby’s total healing, and ask you to pray for the same. The end result however, is in the Sovereign Lord’s gracious hands, and we freely place our daughter in His most capable care, and accept the future as God’s perfect will.
The “facts” in any situation are tempered
by the spiritual truths we know as Christians.
Intellectually and emotionally, we understand the medical facts of this cancer, and yet, it is all tempered spiritually. Our faith in God ensures us with both clarity and finality that all medical statistics and human experience is subject to the blessed sovereignty of God. It is in that omni-compassion that we take refuge, find rest, and place our hope. God may miraculously heal. God may have other plans. No matter, God will see us through and He is most glorified when His children genuinely place their trust in Him.
We know that God has not blinked. He is not busy somewhere else. No matter the eventual outcome, we have the hope of eternity which overshadows this vapor of temporal life, and the anticipation of God’s glory revealed through the inevitability of His sufficient grace. God’s hand is already clear and evident in the circumstances.
Out of tens of thousands of kids that we could have adopted from Guatemala, God providentially orchestrated Abby to be that child. He already knew her future needs, both spiritually and physically. God arranged for her to have family and community that have shown her the love of God and begun to teach her about Jesus, as well the ability to provide life-saving medical treatment.
As for me and my wife, I know that God will have some SPECIFIC purposes for this trial, meant just for us and our family. I cannot tell you what those are now, but sometime in the future, I believe they will be clearly revealed. However, from Scripture, I can tell you some general blessings God has for us through this hour of difficulty (and it is just as true for YOU too in your times of trial):
- Produce patience – Rom. 5:3; James 1:3–4; Heb. 10:36
- Bring joy – Ps. 30:5; 126:5–6
- Help us mature – Eccles. 7:3; 1 Pet. 5:10
- Increase righteousness – Heb. 12:11
- Transform us into the image of Christ – Heb. 12:9, 10; 1 Pet. 4:12–13; Phil. 3:10; 2 Cor. 4:7–10
- Bring glory to God – Ps. 50:15; John 9:1–3; 11:1–4; 21:18–19; Phil. 1:19–20
- Prove our relationship with God – Heb. 12:5–6
- Cultivate prayer – Isa. 26:16
- Be an example to others – 2 Cor. 6:4–5; 1 Thess. 1:6–7
- Help us to counsel others – Rom. 12:15; Gal. 6:2; 2 Cor. 1:3–5
- Be a witness of salvation – Acts 8:1–5; 16:25–34; Phil. 1:12–13; 2 Tim. 4:6–8, 16–17
- Make us victorious – 2 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 8:35, 37
- Drive us to God – 1 Pet. 4:14; 2 Cor. 12:10
- Prepare us for ministry – 1 Kings 17–18; John 12:24
- Reveal God’s sovereignty – Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 10:13; Ps. 66:10–12; Gen. 45:5–8; 50:20
Has God presented you with an opportunity of faith and thanksgiving? Maybe He has but you haven’t learned to see it that way yet. While increased faith comes in many ways, VERY often it is achieved through trials, hardship, suffering and uncertainty. Do you see it for the blessing that it is? Do you thank God for it?
My wife and I would ask you to pray for Abby, and for our family. While this will be fleeting “news” for friends and family, short of God’s miraculous intervention, it will become “life” for us for the next 2-3 years. That is not a criticism of people or I would have to criticize myself first. It is the natural order and process of life. Life moves on. We don’t forget those who labor or suffer, but life does in fact, move on. Even as life moves on for all of us, would you put us on your prayer list for the foreseeable future, and make brief mention of us in your supplications to God?
We would specifically ask you to pray for the following:
- The complete healing of the Leukemia by whatever means, in whatever way, and in whatever time frame brings God the most glory… from the miraculous to the medicinal.
- Trust and faith in God no matter what happens.
- Patience and strength for the actual procedures and responsibilities that lie ahead.
- Wisdom and provision for what will be a significant financial issue for us.
- Opportunity to share the love of Jesus with the staff and doctors.
- Please pray for those families and children who do not have the blessing of the health care we have in America.
I pray that through this, I personally will have a better understanding of faith, compassion, human nature and God’s nature… so that all in all, I can be a better Christian, teacher, husband and father.