God has stopped me in my tracks this week and made me take time to for remembering.
Recently, a friend of ours, K., took the hand of Jesus and went home to heaven. Her passing has made us reflect upon her life and the impact she has had on us. She was especially supportive during Samuel's cancer battle. When Samuel first started chemo, she even chose to shave her head. She herself had experienced hair loss through cancer treatment and shaved her head in solidarity with Samuel. I know that every time she saw her reflection in the mirror, she probably prayed for him. She is a person who has taught me much about what it means to be a prayer warrior. Last Sunday was her Celebration of Life service and Monday, the very next day, Facebook Memories brought up her bald image from four years ago. What timing! It also brought up the image of Samuel from that day. The effects of the chemo had kicked in full force. He had spiked a fever, had a rough night and woke up with his face swollen, throwing up and having diarrhea. That was also the day that his hair started falling out all at once. We all know it's just hair, but there is something so disheartening about that. Samuel was upset about it. I was sad because it made the leukemia, the chemo, and just how sick he was all the more real. What made K. shave her head on that very day? She had no way of knowing that she had perfectly timed this to provide special encouragement for us.
I'm transported back to that week four years ago. What a week that was! It had started really good. A group of gracious prayer warriors from our church had traveled down to Riley with me. The "Prayer Posse," as one of my daughters called them, had felt compelled to specifically pray over Samuel. We were so blessed by this and it had given me such hope. I felt poised for God to work a miracle and heal Samuel. But that's not what happened. Actually, the opposite happened. Samuel got worse and by the end of the week we learned it was more than the chemo and the leukemia making him sick. In addition to all that, his appendix had ruptured. Appendicitis can be very serious in a healthy child and Samuel was not a healthy child. He literally had no measurable ability to fight any sort of infection. I wondered if this was a death sentence.
We watched Samuel weaken before our eyes, too sick to eat and feeling miserable. Much to my dismay, he also became angry at God. If I'm honest, I did, too. I could not understand why our prayers lifted in earnest faith were being ignored by God. I could not understand why my boy had to suffer so. Thankfully, God is big enough to handle all our frustrations. For me, my internal railing against Him came to a head on Thanksgiving day. I knew I should feel thankful, but I was not. I felt alone in the hospital with my very sick boy while my family was eating their Thanksgiving dinner 140 miles away without us. But actually, I was not alone. God was very near and He taught me a lot about trusting Him even when things felt very wrong.
You see, at the time I thought that God wasn't doing what He was supposed to do. We had prayed and the opposite of what we had prayed for happened. It felt like God had failed us. God didn't answer my questions and accusations, but instead made me decide if I was going to trust Him anyway. Would I trust Him when nothing made sense? When it came right down to it, I knew I had to. Where else would I go, if it wasn't to God? I knew He was our only hope.
Thinking about my friend, K., and what she did has made me go back and remember that hard week. It is amazing how hindsight brings new clarity. At that time, I was praying and expecting God to show up in a certain way. When He did not, I felt disillusioned. Now my perspective has changed and I can see now what I struggled to see then. God did indeed show up, just not where I was looking. He not only showed up in mighty ways, but His timing was perfect. Samuel's life-threatening appendicitis was not a surprise to God. He had called the Prayer Posse to action so that we could all pray over Samuel just before it happened. I can see that he was spared a lot of pain and complications that could have caused.
The Bible tells us that God even numbers the hairs on our head. He knew exactly when many of Samuel's would jump ship and called on K. to encourage us in a meaningful way at just the right time. It is amazing to realize that God was continually at work behind the scenes.
I can now look back on that awful week with gratitude. I am thankful that God has opened my eyes to see how He showed up and cared for us in those hard, hard circumstances. It also encourages me as I look forward. God has shown us how He walks with us through the worst of times. He is unchanging and I am confident He will continue to walk with us no matter what.
This year I won't need to spend Thanksgiving separated from my family. We can be together this year with the exception of our sweet Samuel who has slipped beyond the veil. He is so missed. I wish I could hear him again questioning me about every detail of the food prep. Micah and Rose have taken up his position at the kitchen island asking questions about what we are making, stirring the pots, and begging to lick out the bowls. I wonder, are there bowls to lick in heaven? If there are, I'm sure Samuel is right there and ready for his. This separation from one that I love so much is hard. I don't want to celebrate a holiday without him. However, I am thankful for those that I do get to be with. We can celebrate here in thanksgiving with the knowledge that Samuel is celebrating even better in heaven.
Hoping that all of you reading this can find much to be thankful for, as well.
Still trusting in His mighty hand,
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