“Daddy, why do I have to have surgery?”
This was the question my son asked me when he was 6 years old. It was heartbreaking yet it was an opportunity to share what God was doing in his little life. Here is the story as it played out in his little yet real life.
Have you ever gone against tradition? I do. As a matter of fact, I “buck” the societal norm when it comes to tradition. In our church, it is tradition to have your children dedicated. My wife and I understood why people liked this tradition, but I did not feel the need to go through with it. My personal feeling was, when we have children, I will pray over them in the hospital, as I am priest of my home.
After my first son was born, I took hold of his little body, kissed him and prayed, “Lord, this child is yours. I give him back to you to do with him as you please. Use him for Your Kingdom.” I based this prayer on the life of Samuel, when his mother gave him to Eli, the high priest. Why did she do this? She was very grateful that God granted her a son after pleading with God, so in return she ‘gifted’ her son to the work of the priesthood of Israel. When my son was born, I felt the same level of gratitude, as until his birth, I was the last of my family to carry on the family name. However, it wasn’t until 5 years later that the ultimate “daddy” test would occur.
One day, my wife received a phone call from the school nurse. “Your son has failed several hearing tests in his right ear. You may want to get it checked out.” My first thought was “It probably is a wax problem or maybe tubes to clear any fluid.” In the past, my son was very prone to ear infections so it was no surprise to us that he may have a problem. What we didn’t expect was what happened when my wife took him to the doctors.
During the examination, the doctor said, “Oh boy. We need to X-ray this”. This obviously made my wife very nervous. Immediately, the doctor stated, “Your son has a tumor in his ear called, ‘Cholesteatoma’. We need to set up an appointment for an operation.” WHAT?! My 5yr old needs an operation? Is it cancerous? Will it kill him? These were all the thoughts that came to my mind. Was God going to take my son so soon? Questions and anxiety raged internally.
We started to pray about the situation. I pleaded, “Please God, heal my son. Don’t take him.” The doctor tried to reassure us that the tumor typically isn’t cancerous, but it was highly aggressive and could attack his brain. (Even now, I am holding back tears as I think about it.) A couple of days later, we received a phone call, “Bring your son for blood work now. He will be going for the operation this week.” The doctor had a surprise opening and placed my son on her ‘immediately operate’ list.
That week we brought in this bright, happy boy into the hospital. He was given “sleepy medicine”. This was what they told him. He started to fall asleep in my arms and I proceeded to carry him into the operating room. I had seen my wife a few minutes earlier crying her eyes out with her mother. I went into “emergency firefighter’ mode. (I was a trained volunteer firefighter at the time.)
After laying him on the operating table, the nurse escorted me out of the O.R. and proceeded to try and encourage me that everything would be alright. Unfortunately, I did not show God’s love and grace to her. I rudely told her to stop talking and walked out of the hospital doors after reassuring my wife. I called a good friend and mentor of mine and started to explain what was happening. He prayed with me as I cried feverishly.
It was during that short time a thought came to mind, “Is he really mine?” What? Where did that come from? Again I heard, “Is your son really mine? Can I do anything with him?” God was reaching out to me. He was comforting me asking me if what I had stated 5 years earlier was really true. This was the start of my ultimate test. Was I going to give him up completely, no matter the outcome?
I wrestled with this for some time. After 5 ½ hours, we received word, the surgery was a success, but he was going to have to go through another surgery 9 months later to complete the installation of a prosthesis. We took him home realizing that there was more to come.
During the “in between surgeries” time, my son came to me and asked, “Daddy, why do I have to have surgery? Why is this happening to me?” God revealed to me that this was the very complaint I give to Him every time a trial or problem occurs in my life. I had to answer my son appropriately. I said, “I don’t know why this is happening. All I know is that God as His reasons and you will know them when He decides to reveal it to you. Until then, remember, no matter where you are God is always with you.” It was the only answer I could come up with. I knew God said He would never leave us nor forsake us, so I had to reassure my son of this as I needed reassurance.
Nine months later……read tomorrow for the rest of the story.