From the Depths

As he sat in the hospital waiting for the doctor’s word on his son, Ron pondered every conceivable question.  Why is this happening?  What did my son do to deserve this type of treatment?  What is the purpose in all of this?  As questions continued to arise, he placed his tear-filled eyes into his hands and wept like all was lost.  It was then he began to remember happier times.

Six years earlier, Ron and his wife, Barbara, had been surprised by the news that she was pregnant.  Although the child was unplanned by them, they understood God had bigger plans for this child.  They began to adjust their lives anticipating the arrival of their little baby.  Ron worked feverishly to ensure that most of the necessary construction on his house was completed, while Barbara picked out colors and cribs.

After the arrival of their baby boy, things went well for them.  He began to grow as most children do, making up words, playing with their toys and learning to say, “No.”  For the first five years of his life, David appeared to develop normally.  It wasn’t until the elementary school called indicating that David failed a hearing test.

David had experienced ear infections for most of his life.  Sometimes medication didn’t work, sometimes it did.  In all cases, it appeared that he was healed every time.  There were no “red flags’ that entered the mind of Ron or Barbara.  Now their biggest fear became a reality.  David had a tumor that needed to be removed, otherwise he could die.

The doctor called it cholesteatoma tumor, a non-cancerous tumor inside the ear that eats away at bones and cartilage.  Normally, it wasn’t fatal, but in David’s case, they feared that due to the size of the tumor, it would begin to eat at the base of the skull.  It was the worst news they had ever heard.  Never did either of them understand how or why this happened.  The doctor speculated David may have been born with it, while another possibility was one of his earlier infections created the tumor.  In either case, no one knew how or where this tumor came from.

Ron had sat with his son in the waiting room of the hospital.  He watched his son play with various toys as if there was nothing wrong.  The anesthesiologist entered the room with a smile on his face.  He carried a small cup of clear liquid and called David over to him.  David gladly took the drink and within minutes began to feel sleepy.  Ron and Barbara knew the time had come for doctors to attempt to remove the tumor.

Ron dressed in the suit provided by the hospital.  Dressed in white from head to toe, Ron didn’t cry.  In his mind, he didn’t have time for that.  This time was for David.  His son needed him more than ever.  Fully dressed, Ron picked up his son and carried him down the hallway.  As Ron looked back, he could see Barbara place her head on her mother’s shoulder and cry like the world was lost.  Not being able to bear the sight, Ron turned his head and followed the nurse.

They approached a small room, where every electronic contraption could be found.  Large lights were overhead, a heart rate monitor was to his right and the operating table was straight ahead.  Behind the table was where the anesthesiologist stood waiting for David to ensure he was fully asleep.  Looking around, the doctor stood there encouraging Ron with a smile as if to indicate that all would be okay.  Ron doubting the situation wanted to run with his son in his arms, but knew that wouldn’t be the best decision.  David had this foreign tumor and it needed to be removed.

Ron carefully placed David on the table before him.  The doctor placed a mask on David’s face and asked Ron to leave.  Ron leaned over his son, kissed his head and whispered, “Don’t worry, everything will be alright.  Jesus is with you.”  It was then that faith turned into a reality.  Did Ron really believe this?  Was what he read really true?  Was God really with his son through this?  Ron lifted his head, nodded at the doctor to say, “He is in your hands now”, turned and walked away.

The poor nurse assigned to escort Ron back to the waiting area, placed her hand on his back and said, “Everything will be okay.  Your son is in the best hands.”  Not desiring to listen to anyone or hear any words of encouragement, Ron just turned to the nurse and crudely stated, “Please be quiet.  I don’t want to talk with you right now.”  The nurse, having wisdom, just smiled and continued the silent walk back to the waiting area.

After checking on his wife, Ron decided it was time for him to get some air.  He told Barbara that he was going outside.  Barbara didn’t acknowledge Ron, but Ron understood that she heard him but didn’t care because her baby boy was undergoing surgery.  Ron slowly turned toward the door and walked outside picking up his cell phone.

As Ron stood in the sun he decided to call one of his friends, Bobby.  Bobby had helped Ron understand many different situations in life.  Bobby was a temporary pastor at his church and had walked with him through the process, thus far.  Now Ron needed to work through this so Bobby was his best choice.  The phone rang and Ron heard the comforting voice of his dear friend.

“Ron, how are you?  How is everything with David?” asked Bobby.

“He’s in surgery right now”, stated Ron with an exacting voice.

“So then the question is… how are you?”

With tears in his eyes and a fluttering voice Ron shared, “Bobby, I don’t understand.  God gave us this child.  Why did He allow this to happen?  David didn’t do anything to deserve this.  Why is this happening?”

With the wisdom of God on his mind and sympathy in his voice, Bobby said, “I wish I could understand, but I cannot.  Have you cried out to God and ask Him?”

“No.  Right now I am angry with God and don’t want him to be angry with me.”

“Bobby, didn’t Job cry out to God?  Don’t you think he was angry?  He lost everything, his home, his worldly wealth, his health and even all of his children.  Even King David cried out to God in his time in need.  In fact, on the cross, Jesus cried out, ‘Father, why have you forsaken me?’ Cry out to Him.  He will answer”, encouraged Bobby.

Ron thanked him for his time and comfort and agreed that crying out to God directly was the best way to understand the situation.  Although, Ron didn’t feel like talking with God, he understood that was the only way to possibly get answers to his questions.

As he sat in the hospital waiting for the doctor’s word on his son, Ron pondered every conceivable question.  Why is this happening?  What did my son do to deserve this type of treatment?  What is the purpose in all of this?  As questions continued to arise, he placed his tear-filled eyes into his hands and wept like all was lost.  He cried out to God and said, “Why?  Why is this happening?  What has David done to deserve this?  There are so many others out there who have done worse, so why can’t you punish them?”

No answer came.  As Ron continued to cry out to God but over the course of the next few hours, the questions became demands.  “God, why aren’t you answering me?!  I demand an answer.  I can’t handle this situation.  You said you wouldn’t give me anything I can’t handle.  God, where are you?!”

Again, no answer came.  Just as Ron was giving up on his prayers, the doctor came out, still clothed in hospital scrubs.  As she approached, she told them, “Ron, Barbara.  I want to let you know that David is doing okay.  He is currently resting but unfortunately, he will have to do this again in six months.  We attempted to get all of it but we cannot do any more until then.  I know it has been over five hours, but the next surgery shouldn’t be long.  After David wakes up, you can take him home.”

Another surgery?  Ron and Barbara didn’t fully understand why their precious little boy needed anther surgery but trusted the doctor for her experience and knowledge.  Questions flooded Ron’s mind once again.  What was happening?  Why to his little boy?  All he could do is get his son, take him home and give him the care he needed.

Six months later, the second surgery came.  Once again, they found themselves in the waiting room with their son.  Again, the questions flooded Ron’s mind.  As they waited for the doctor, their son was in the play area putting together some puzzles.  Not far from David, was another little boy who appeared to be crying and whimpering in his mother’s arms.  Curious about the situation David approached the little boy and asked, “Why are you crying?”

The boy’s mother replied, “He has to go into surgery.”

Overhearing David’s conversation, Barbara asked the crying boy’s mother, “Oh, what kind of surgery?”

“Tubes.  It’s a pretty long surgery, about an one and a half hours.”

Barbara just smiled and said, “I understand.  Our son needs surgery in his ears too.”

The boy’s mother responded, “Tubes?”

Barbara mustered all of the strength she could find and replied, “No.  I wish it was.  My son is having another surgery to remove a cholesteatoma tumor.”

“Oh I’m sorry.  Here I am crying over this silly procedure, while your son has a more serious situation”, the boy’s mother stated while wiping tears from her eyes.

Barbara responded, “Don’t worry about it.  Our son already had one surgery, so this should be his last.”

“How long is your son’s surgery?” asked the mother.

“The first one was about six hours but this one should only be two or three hours.”

The other mother appeared shocked and the look on her face resembled that of a statue with the expression of shock and disbelief.  Barbara and the boy’s mother continued their conversation when something incredible happened.  David turned toward the boy and said, “Let’s play a game” and took the boy by the hand and led him to the video game console.

“What just happened?” asked the boy’s mother.

Ron realized that something special was happening.  He had seen God work before, but never like this.  God was working through his son in order to bring comfort and compassion.  Before the mother could ask the question a second time, Ron responded, “God is working through my son to reach your son.”

It was about that time that the anesthesiologist came forward and called David’s name.  Once again, David was given a small drink which made him “sleepy”.  Ron then picked up his son and carried him back to the same operating table they had visited six months prior.  He laid his little boy down, kissed him once again and smiled at the doctor to acknowledge his approval of her skills.

A couple of hours passed and Ron and Barbara waited patiently for the doctor’s good word.  No one came.  They inquired from the front desk, who called for the doctor, but no response came.  “What’s happening?  Why is it taking it so long?” were questions that raced through their minds.  Another hour passes, no word from the doctor.  After another six hour surgery, the doctor emerged with a smile on her face.

“I’m sorry I didn’t respond earlier, but there were minor complications.  The tumor had grown back so we needed to remove the tumor again and continue with the second stage of surgery.  Your son is resting now but all is well.  I believe we got it totally this time”, said the doctor with confidence.

Ron and Barbara finally felt relief.  Their son had been healed.  Ron still questioned God, but realized that the battle was over.  Their son would completely recover from his ailment.  He may not be able to hear but at least he would live.  Satisfied with the doctor’s results, they took David home and cared for him.

A few years went by and there was no sign of the tumor.  Only the scar behind his ear became the evidence of a prior complication.  One afternoon, Barbara took David to the doctor for a routine checkup.  It was there, the world was turned upside down once again.  The doctor warned, “I am sorry but the tumor grew back.”

Devastated by the news, Barbara asked, “Is it fatal?”

The doctor turned and said, “No.  It is operable, but I recommend a full ear canal wall down.”

Seeing the confused look on Barbara’s face, the doctor continued, “It means that he will no longer have an ear canal.  We will remove it completely, so that if this ever happens in the future, we can take care of it right here.”

This news brought a sense of relief to Barbara, but how would she tell Ron?  He had been questioning God since the last two surgeries.  Would he completely flip out and turn away from God or would he respond by going to God?  This, unfortunately, was a risk she was going to have to take.  No matter the outcome, she would stand by Ron and pray that he would respond properly.

She picked up her cell phone and dialed Ron at work.

“Hello”, said Ron.

“Hi honey”, Barbara stated with hesitancy.

“What’s wrong Barb?”

“David needs another surgery.”

The news was crushing.  It was as if his heart had been ripped out of his chest and placed into a trash compactor.  Everything hurt.  His body, mind and soul ached with pain beyond comparison.  It was then Barbara interrupted his self pity session, “Ron.  It’s operable.  The doctor will remove his ear canal and remove the tumor once again.  Once completed, they will be able to do it in the office so that David doesn’t have to go through this again.”

There was some sense of comfort to that news, even though his life felt crushed.  At least David would only have to go through this one more time.  Ron, however, knew that he needed to carry his little boy once again and place him onto the operating table.  The toughest of tasks he ever encountered was once again upon him.  Would he be able to do it again?  Would he loose his mind?  As he contemplated each of these questions, he remembered his first thought, ‘At least David would only have to go through this one more time.’

Weeks went by as Barbara and Ron prepared David for the final surgery.  Day after day they would answer David’s questions.  “Why is this happening to me?  Is God really there?  What will happen after this surgery?  Will I get sick again from the ‘sleepy medicine’?”  David has a number of significant and relevant questions.  After the first two surgeries, David had gotten very sick and didn’t want to leave the hospital.  Although the doctors and nurses gave him an anti-nausea shot, David’s body continued to react negatively.  Vomiting, stomach cramps, headaches and pain surrounded David after every surgery.  For David, the nightmare was going to continue.  Was this going to ever end?

On one occasion, David asked Ron, “Daddy, is Jesus really with me during my surgery?”

Understanding the fear in David’s mind, Ron responded, “Absolutely.  Jesus is always with you.  He never leaves us alone.”

“How do we know?” asked David.

Holding back the tears, Ron responded, “Jesus told us this in the Bible”.  It was then Ron waited for the response he thought he would get.  However, David was to respond in a different manner.

“Well, Daddy.  If you believe that, then so do I.  I love you, Daddy”.

No longer could Ron hold back his feelings.  Tears began streaming down his cheeks.  He opened his arms and David gladly embraced his father giving comfort and relief.  Attempting to control his composure, Ron looked into David’s eyes and said, “Thank you.  You helped Daddy today.”

“How?” asked David with a curious look.

“You helped me believe what God has told me.”

“What did he tell you?”

“He told me that this wasn’t about me.  It was about you.  God told me He was going to use these problems for your life.  I don’t know exactly what this means, but I do trust Him to complete the work He has started.”

David smiled.  He didn’t quite understand what Ron meant, but he knew if his daddy was happy then so was he.

The day of the final surgery came.  Once again, the anesthesiologist gave David the “sleepy medicine” but this time asked him a question.

“David, now that you are older.  Do you want to walk in on your own or would you like a wheelchair?”

David thought for a moment and looked up at Ron as if to ask for his approval.

“Would you like for me to carry you in again?” asked Ron.

David then looked at the anesthesiologist and with a sense of confidence and said, “I think I will walk in.  Can my daddy come too?”

With a smile on his face the anesthesiologist looked at Ron while bending down to David’s height and said, “Sure.  He can come too.”

David then grabbed Ron’s hand and walked down the hospital corridors to the operating room.  This was the first time David had seen it with his own eyes.  The other two times, David remembered falling asleep while waiting.  Fear began to encompass the young boy’s mind and body.  He knew he couldn’t turn back but he was scared.  David turned to Ron and asked, “Daddy, can you stay with me until I fall asleep?”

Ron smiled and said, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

They entered the operating room and Ron picked up David and placed him on the table.  While the doctors prepared the anesthesia machine, David held Ron’s hand.  Recognizing David’s fear, Ron bent over to kiss David.  He then assisted the doctors in placing the mask over David’s nose and mouth.  Ron then told David, “Remember, Jesus is with you and I’ll be right here when you wake up.”

David continued to hold Ron’s hand, gripping Ron tighter and tighter to let him know that David didn’t want his daddy to leave.  A few seconds later, David’s eyes drew heavy and his hand slowly released Ron’s hand.  Ron then knew it was the doctor’s moment.  Ron turned to the doctor and said, “This is my boy.  Please take care of him.”

The doctor acknowledged Ron and said, “As a parent, you have my word.”

Ron turned around and met the nurse in the hallway who was to assist him in getting back to the waiting area.  As Ron met up with Barbara, he embraced his wife and comforted her once again.  Both knew this was the last surgery, but it still didn’t make it any easier.  Emotions flared from one extreme to the next, from happiness to sadness, from smiling to depression.  Each moment was different from the next.  As they once again waited for the doctor to say she was done, Ron decided to take a walk outside.

Once there, Ron decided it was time to do business with God.  He hated the random thoughts that flooded his mind and wanted help to get them in order.  Standing by the ledge, Ron gripped it with both hands, looked up toward the sky and said, “Lord.  I know you are in control of all things.  You have shown me how faithful you are.  Even when I am not faithful, you are.  Please let me know if this is truly the last surgery.  I know you won’t give your children anything they can’t handle, but I am not sure if Barbara, David or I can go through this again.”

Ron then patiently waited for a response.  Almost immediately, his random thoughts became order.  Where there was disorder in his mind, now had a sense of organization.  As Ron searched his thoughts, he was reminded something Jesus told his disciples.  He remembered that during his final meal with his disciples, after his resurrection, Jesus told them to “baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.  Teaching them everything I command to you.”

Although Ron didn’t believe in trusting his thoughts normally, nor did he believe in numerology, Ron believed that this portion of God’s work was going to be complete.  He thought to himself, “The first surgery was for the Father, the second for the Son and this one for the Holy Spirit.  All of these surgeries were so that each member of the God-head could take part in working in David’s life.  Each one desired to do a work but each work was with one purpose, to bring David closer to God.”

Excited to hear this word from God, Ron immediately shared it with Barbara.  Although they would not have confirmation for years to come, Ron believed that God was done with teaching David this way.  It was God’s special way of reaching out to David and carrying him through the dark times of his life.  It was in their darkest moment, that God revealed Himself to their hurting souls.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. “ – Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)


The Ultimate “Daddy” Test (Continued)

Yesterday, I shared the first part of my experience with the “Ultimate ‘Daddy’ test”.  Not to keep the suspense to long, here is the rest of the story….

Nine months later, we brought my son back to the hospital.  While we were waiting, another boy was crying because he was going to have surgery for tubes.  His parents were also crying trying to reassure their son that everything would be okay.  My 6 year old, saw this and put his arm around the crying boy and said, “Don’t be sad.  Let’s play a game together.”  The boy immediately stopped crying.  A look of shock came over the parents, my wife and I and the boy’s parents asked, “What just happened?”  I said, “That was God working in your son’s life.”  We talked for a few minutes and told each other our son’s problems.

Shortly after, the doctor came and gave him the “sleepy medicine” once more.  After my son started to fall asleep, a nurse told me that I could not carry him.  I told her, “No one will stop me.  He is my son and I will place him on the table, no one else.”  She saw the determination in my eyes and led me down the terrible path.  Again, as we were waiting for the outcome, the same thought came as it did 9 months earlier, “Is he really mine?  Can I do with him as I please?”

This time, I knew it was God.  I prayed and said, “Yes.  It is very hard for me to give up my son, but yes.  Do with him as you see fit.  You know what I want but he is yours.”  It was then that the ultimate revelation came to mind.  I wonder if God felt the same way when Jesus hung on the cross?  Was He thinking, “This is hard, but it needs to be done.”  Was he crying the same way I cried?  Did He really feel the same way I do?

While the operation was proceeding, my friend, who I had called 9 months earlier, came to the hospital with his wife and we cried and explained that although I didn’t like what my son was going through, God was in control.  After 6 hours, the nurse came out and said, “The operation was a success, you can see you son now.”    A few days later, the doctor told us the tumor was not cancerous and we didn’t have to worry about it.  She was going to closely watch it but it shouldn’t grow back as they were able to remove the entire original tumor.  Unfortunately, what she predicted did not come true.

A few years later, we brought my son in for a routine check-up.  The doctor looked into his ear and said, “I am sorry to say this, but we are going to have to go back in and do a different surgery.  We have to eliminate the entire ear canal.  The tumor has grown back.”  The pressure of a thousand horses running over my body over and over again is the only description I can use that explains how I felt.  He was going to have to get yet another surgery.

He was scared, but he was also old enough to understand that this had to be done.  He didn’t like it but he knew what to expect.  This surgery took another 5 ½ hours.  After the surgery, the doctor said, “We will check the tumor again but because of this surgery, he should not need surgery again.  If it comes back, we will be able to remove it at my office.”

Needless to say, the third surgery was the final one.  Today, he is a teenager and loves sports.  He can’t hear out of his ear, but the tumor has not returned.  God taught me several lessons when it comes to life.  First, He truly is in control.  No matter what we go through, He is right there carrying us, crying with us, laughing with us and talking softly to us.  Second, when we make a serious commitment to God, He will test us.

In the Bible, Peter made a serious confession to follow Christ, but Christ stated, “Peter, Satan has asked to sift you.”  God allows us to go through trials to show others (including the angels) that our commitment is real.  When we decide to make that serious commitment to His Kingdom, we should not be shocked when trials come.

Lastly, God reminded me, He fully understands what we go through.  Just as I had to give up my son to Him, God gave His Son up for me first.  Jesus willing gave His life for my benefit to the glory of God.  Jesus was beaten and bled just to ensure that the Father could have a relationship with us.  How crazy is that thought?  Let it sink in.  Someone gave their life so that you could live eternally in paradise.  AMAZING!  Don’t let this opportunity go by.  God is calling you into a relationship with Him.  This two part blog is no accident and it is not by chance that you are reading this.  God wants you.  He love you.  He made you.  He desires to be with you.  As I took the “Ultimate ‘Daddy’ test” and realized what God was doing, so you to will go through some “Ultimate ‘[place your situation here]’ test”.  Just remember, whatever you give up to God, He will answer.  It may be uncomfortable, but He really is in control.

Be encouraged and make a positive difference in someone else’s life today with your story.  God Bless.

The Ultimate “Daddy” Test

“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.