As we journey a little further down this path of medical mayhem with our family, I have been tempted on more than one occasion to take the burden for this on myself and pronounce that perhaps this is the result of just not getting some lesson that God has been trying to teach me so he’s repeating the lesson over and over. Or perhaps this is the result of some area of sin in my life that I need some “help” in order to see. Or maybe, perhaps, we just didn’t make the cut for wonderful blessed family and God is somehow overlooking some of the protection He seems to grant to most families in terms of the health of their children.
In the eleven years we’ve been married, we’ve had a child break bones on two occasions, once surgery was required; we’ve had a child born with Down syndrome; we’ve had a child diagnosed with moderate scoliosis that will probably require surgery in the next few years; we’ve had a prenatal increased (1:5) chance of a child having Trisomy 13 or 18 on a nuchal translucency screening, which is a supposed lethal/not compatible with life diagnosis (don’t tell that to the thousands of parents whose children although severely affected have lived with this diagnosis); and we’ve had a child diagnosed with a Chiari malformation and subsequently diagnosed with a syrinx.
It’s just hard to know what to think. Yes, we have much better diagnostic testing than we did even 20 years ago that means we are given a lot more diagnoses than we would have been given 20 years ago. And, yes, we have more children than the average family, so it’s only logical that we have more medical issues than most families. But God is sovereign over all that, He could protect us if that was His will.
Now I think of Noah. When he was diagnosed with Down syndrome, I definitely felt like somehow we had slipped God’s mind for a moment, and in that moment, that extra chromosomal material snuck in. I felt that loss of protection.
Here I am five years later, and that moment when that extra chromosomal material was woven into Noah’s being no longer looks like an oversight. If normal chromosomes are the standard, than God must have had us specifically in mind when He added a little something extra to Noah. Exactly how is Noah different than your typical kid? I can’t exactly say, but I do know this: It’s a GOD thing. I don’t claim that people with Down syndrome are angels; spend more than five minutes with one, and you’ll probably figure that out. But I do know this: People with Down syndrome hold a little bit of heaven in their hearts. You can see it on Noah’s face when he smiles. His smile is not of this world. You can see it in his step. You can feel it in his gentle touch and in his hug that he puts his whole being into. You can see it when he runs at top speed for his speech therapist’s office, leaps just for the joy of it, and lands mid-step and keeps on running, just because he can.
The Lord has been so gracious to bring this Scripture to mind over and over again:
New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam”(this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. www.biblegateway.com
Can the works of God be seen in the midst of sickness and brokenness or only in healing? Is there joy in the journey of scoliosis, Chiari, syrinx, broken bones, surgeries; or is Down syndrome the exception to the rule?
I think of watching Andres as he was drawn into the MRI machine with his arm wrapped around his stuffed dog, so stoic, in perfect peace and curiosity, not so much as flinching at the IV in his arm, and I see the works of God being displayed in him.
I think of the way the children’s diagnoses and near diagnoses have brought Andrew and I together in a united front, and I see the works of God displayed in us.
I think of the way my child with scoliosis handles her condition and uncertain future with so much faith and poise and how she holds fast to the fact that God has a plan for her life that includes all this, and I see the works of God displayed in her.
I remember the way my child came out of surgery talking about the conversation she and the anesthesiologist’s nurse had about Jesus as she was drifting off, and I see the works of God displayed in her.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 (www.biblegateway.com)
For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
May you find the Lord this day and all days as you search for Him with all your heart in every victory and trial; for this is His promise to you and me.