Friday, April 24, 2009

The Walk To Moriah

(Recently I was given the question, "How has God been working in your life recently?" The origin and context for this question is unrelated to what has happened with my son, Seth, but the answer I gave is all about that. Here it is with a little editing for the blogging setup.)

The answer to this question is like a dagger to my soul, and painful beyond description as I write these words. Clearly I am wrestling with both God’s bountiful generosity and God’s heart-wrenching inaction regarding my ten year old son’s accidental paralysis. Seth could walk fine with no problems, but it was feared that the spastic nerves in his legs due to a slight case of cerebral palsy would become more interfering as he grew older. It was thought that a surgical procedure called a rhizotomy would prevent this by isolating and removing the effects of any spastic nerves in his legs. The procedure was considered to have very few risks, with potential paralysis not even a consideration. Nevertheless, in what is now the only known case to ever occur, Seth experienced complete paralysis from the waist down about five hours after surgery. Blood pressure inexplicably built up around the spinal cord and began to starve the cells of oxygen. No one knows why or how this happened, but it is all too obvious that it did, and this condition has continued without improvement until this moment thirty days later.

In the meantime, I have descended into the depths of hell itself, desperately seeking God’s mercy for my son. Nothing I have ever experienced before begins to compare with the heartbreak I feel for what is happening to Seth, and never before have I been so desperate before my Lord. I am driven to trust God like I’ve never trusted before, yet at the same time being overwhelmed with anguish of God’s apparent inaction. Why has God let this happen to Seth? Why is God so slow in responding to the prayers of so many?

I am not in a so-called “crisis of faith,” as, like Peter, where else can I go to find the words of eternal life! God is God if there is a God! The clear mercy and compassion of the Lord is daily flowing forth in the amazing ways my family and I have been cared for by so many, and in the provisions for us all, even for Seth. These signs and wonders are many, but still so far no healing for my son is among them.

In this crushing wait for God's glory, I have walked the terrible path that Abraham walked with his son, Isaac, as they approached the mountain of sacrifice in Moriah (Genesis 22:1-14). I have had to lay my son, Seth, on that altar in faith that somehow “God will provide.” In an obedience that shreds my soul I have had to give up my son as I place my faith in a God I can in no way comprehend who is asking me to do something I can in no way reason through. I must obey this stark, sheer Word of God, trusting that somehow God’s promise will be fulfilled despite the apparent unreasonableness and injustice of the present situation. Yes, I know the anguish in Abraham’s heart as he drew his dagger to slay his only son, Isaac. It is the anguish of obedience to the Word while trusting the One who spoke the Word to keep His promise. God will provide for His promise! This I am believing, this I am standing on! God who calls me to obey will also provide!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Discouragement Gaining Ground

One of the surgeons involved with Seth's surgery stopped by today to check on how his incision was healing. He showed me where the injured part of the spinal cord would be, and explained that what we see now is essentially what will be. Seth still has no feeling below his waist, and the doctor said if there was to be improvement we would see it by now. Still, I insisted on doing another MRI in order to assess the actual damage to the spinal cord. I'm not sure why this is so important to me, but somehow knowing for sure instead of assuming seems the right thing to do. So, this talk today was very discouraging.

I've been at the hospital today learning how to do some of the basic things that must be done to help Seth get through each day. The indignities Seth, and all who are have paralysis like this, must accept as normal everyday living are extremely disturbing to me. He seems to take it all in stride, but how my heart breaks that he has to endure these daily invasions of his body and person. That he must deal with this is extremely discouraging.

My wife had an experience last night that hopefully means something good. Whether she was awake or dreaming, she doesn't know, but she was praying for Seth when suddenly her spine felt like it was on fire. The feeling went up to the midpoint of her back, which is the same location the surgeon pointed to today when he showed me where the injury was located. I am growing weary of "signs" at this stage of drama, but I'll take it. It is encouraging, but my heart is so discouraged that it is hard to hold on to anything hopeful.

Discouragement 2, Encouragement 1/2. Discouragement is closing the gap, but God makes the score heavily in favor of encouragement. Still, discouragement definitely gained some ground today.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Encouragement Wins The Day

A good friend, Dick Speight, went with me today to pray for Seth at the hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota. He prayed for both healing of the dead cells in his spine and the miraculous recovery of those cells that are injured. After he finished praying, another friend called from Cedar Rapids who informed us that at the time Dick was praying his prayers for healing and miracles, a large number of Cedar Rapids pastors had gathered together and were praying for Seth. This demonstration of care and love was very encouraging.

At a team meeting regarding Seth's condition, one of the doctors expressed his pessimism regarding Seth's prospects for recovery. He said that there should be some signs of improvement by now, and there are none. Seth still has no feeling from his waist down, and this hasn't changed for over a week now. He was not trying to be negative, he just was trying to be straight with us. My wife and I said that we believe God is a healing God, and that our hope remains in what God can do. Nevertheless, this meeting was very discouraging.

Later today, just before Dick, my wife, and I left the hospital, a doctor stopped by to see how Seth was doing. He had treated Seth in the intensive care unit, and had been praying for him. This doctor told us that on the very floor where Seth is staying are several patients who have had recoveries and healings that are impossible according to medical understanding. He said God can certainly do this with Seth as well. This believing doctor was very encouraging.

So, encouragement 2, discouragement 1. Encouragement wins today. Now comes tomorrow. Keep praying!

In Christ's Peace,