When our son Pete was three, he was diagnosed with leukemia, and from one moment to the next, our lives changed drastically. There are no instruction manuals that can prepare you for how to cope when your child is facing a life-threatening disease. Even though we found shelter in the loving arms of Jesus, our tender Shepherd, we still had to find a way to face the scary events of the following weeks and months.
Finally, there was light at the end of the tunnel: The doctors pronounced Pete healed. But in reality the challenge was not over; years later, the ugly monster raised its foul head again, not once but twice.
When the cancer returned the first time, we were in South Africa, an unfamiliar country with a different language, culture, and medical system from what we were used to. But the fears and pain were the same, along with the interminable waiting for the tiniest signs of improvement. The improvement did come, and again it seemed he was cured … until three years later, we were stunned to discover that our son’s cancer had returned yet again.
Still only ten years old, Pete was facing his third bout with the illness.
We cried and agonized. We didn’t understand God’s reasons, but we felt His presence ever by our side. I was pretty sure I could relate to how the apostle Paul must have felt when he wrote, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are … never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.”1
And so once more we held on desperately.
Back at the hospital, the doctor was explaining that the best possibility for permanent healing was a bone marrow transplant, but everyone in our family had already been tested. None of us were a match.
“Let’s test again,” he advised.
The next week the doctor met us with a smile. “Your youngest son is a close enough match,” he said.
It was no instant victory. Again it took days, weeks, and months before Pete was out of danger. But he pulled through and has been cancer-free for the past ten years.
How do you survive a crisis? You hold the hand of the Shepherd, moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day.
- 2 Corinthians 4:8–9 NLT ↩