Logically I know that nothing changes in Joel when we get MRI results, he is the same boy in nine hours that he was last week. Whatever is or is not happening in his brain has not changed, if the MRI says he has a new tumor, or tumors then he had them last week when he was taking some of his first steps, when we were clapping for him and loving him. Logically I know that MRI results have never been the final word for Joel. According to MRI results Joel should be in heaven already. So I know that if the MRI results tempt me to despair, I have lots of reasons not to give in to that fear. I have every reason to feel as much peace, joy and excitement about Joel right now at 5:30 am (while I can not sleep because I have too much nervous energy), as I felt last week or the week before. God has a plan for my son, and it is no different today than it was last week. My heart and my mind both understand that, but someone should explain it to my stomach. I have a pretty weak stomach when it comes to life threatening tumors.
July was shocking. Joel was healed, completely healed and every month was going to confirm that more. We knew the miracles Joel had received were anything but cut and dry. Sharing Joel’s testimony was always challenging because we wanted to be sure we explained everything and didn’t gloss over the fact that Joel received radiation and the miracle was not that the tumor disappeared, but that it never came back. Never came back. That seemed key. Every time we received a new MRI it was clear, and in our minds, it had to be clear to prove that what happened with Joel was a miracle, not an unusual delay in a cancer not known to take its time. You see, Joel was healed, and so a tumor could never come back, until it did. Where do you stand, when the thing you were standing on crumbles? Joel’s tumor came back, and so either we had been abandoned, or we were basing our faith too much on the evidence of MRIs. We had to stand on God, just God and his character, not the miracle He had given. I believe when Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac He was learning to put his faith in God, just God, not Isaac, the miracle he had been given. I think it is very subtle and very dangerous when slowly shift from trusting God to trusting the thing God has given us.
Could we trust God even when the tumor had returned? We found out the answer was yes. We had a tough night or two. I went to bed feeling like I should read the 23rd Psalm, (the shadow of death psalm) and I was literally annoyed with myself for wanting to read it, since it felt so cliched. My annoyance was probably the first thing that clued me in to the fact that it was the Spirit of God pressing me to read it, so I did. I read the Psalm that even non-Christians can quote, and found that the Word of God really is living and active. It was new to me that night, when I read, “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies,” I knew that God was asking me to just wait, and not be afraid, and not even try to work up faith, or pray more and try harder. My job was just to sit at the table and feast.
The next day at church we shared that the tumor was back and our pastor prayed for us and said he thought the focus of our prayer should be peace, and then he shared the same verse. “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.” So, we have had peace. We have feasted on life and joy and love, and Joel has thrived and we have been happy. I have worried less about Joel in these last three months than any other time since he was diagnosed. I could not have made myself relax and enjoy my son and my family, except for the fact that God prepared the table, He said, come and sit. It has been amazing.
So, today that season of life may change. We know how this goes. We know how amazing it feels to have a clear MRI, and we know how devastating it is to find out that the fight we are tired of fighting continues. We are acutely aware of how challenging it can be to find your feet when you get the news that your son is dying. We know that sometimes the most faithful response you can have is, “Yes, but we’re all dying, aren’t we?” and know that Joel will live as long as God sustains his life, just like our other children, just like everyone to ever live, Joel will have breath as long as God gives it and not a moment longer, clear MRI or not.
We have learned that we can still trust God when a tumor is back, and we have suspected that we would still trust God if tumors continued to come back over and over again, after all, the news can’t really get any worse than last November, can it? Today we might find out that we can breathe a little easier, because there are no tumors trying to take our son’s life, or today we might find out that we can trust God in the face of twenty tumors. My heart is ready, but someone should tell my stomach who my God is!


There are 4 comments for this post.

  1. roberta holohan on October 20, 2011 6:26 am

    Hi Amy thinking and praying for you ryan and especially wee Joel, will be praying for a great report, we serve an awesome God! Amen x

  2. amyg on October 20, 2011 9:11 am

    We sure do! Amen!

  3. Jim Rutherford on October 20, 2011 9:32 am

    Have been praying much this last week and especially much of this morning. Believing! Love you, Joel, Ryan & the boys!

  4. Dawn Haas on October 20, 2011 2:04 pm

    Praying a lot of your all today!!

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