"Thank You, God, For Hemophilia"??? You must be nuts!
While I embrace the label of "nut," with a confident smile, there is faith-filled reasoning behind my proclamation of praise. These are literally words of worship that I have uttered since the day our boy was diagnosed, less than 24 hours after his birth.
The day after our son was born, my husband and I were sharing anything but smiles and laughter. Even so, through tears we whispered a prayer of praise, "Thank You, God, for hemophilia. We don't know why we're thanking You, but we know You will bring something good out of this."
In Corrie Ten Boom's classic, The Hiding Place, she shares horrible, harrowing stories of surviving Nazi concentration camps after being caught hiding Jews during World War II. At one point in the book, she tells the story of her sister Betsy standing alongside her as they witness barracks of bunk beds filled with straw that is literally moving with flees. This is where they are expected to sleep. As Corrie recoils in disgust, her sister Betsy proclaims, "Thank You, God, for fleas." In the end, it turns out that these 2 sisters are given the freedom to preach the gospel to other women in the camp because the guards keep their distance for fear of these fleas. They are also given enough privacy to consume contraband liquid vitamins that help their health and the health of others around them, because the guards are avoiding the fleas.
I read this book while I was pregnant with our son. It's message of trusting God was so powerful that it changed my life. I couldn't help but tell my husband as I was reading it. That was what empowered us to whisper that prayer of trust despite the tearful, frightening diagnosis we had received for our infant that day.
It's easy to thank God for the positive blessings in our lives. When I sit in the quiet of my home in the early morning, candles lit, sipping freshly brewed coffee, consuming the rich insights of Scripture, it's effortless to be in awe of a safe, nice place to live that shouldn't be ours to enjoy with all of the job battles my husband has faced over the years. When the world is all as I perceive it should be, it seems only natural to utter words of gratitude. Any of us can feel the glow when we enjoy life's celebrations or detect those things that have been poured over us in spite of life's circumstances.
But how do we "give thanks in ALL things"? Is there any greater sacrifice of praise to offer God than thanking Him when our situation seems the most bleak?
I have learned over the years, first comes the action, then come the feelings. In other words, I must first obey God, even though I don't feel it, then eventually my emotions will follow. And if God's sees fit, He may even make my faith sight.
This has been our story since the time of my son's birth. We praised God for hemophilia, even though it made no worldly sense to do it. Over the past 15-and-a-half years we have faced the darkest valleys -- hospitalizations, life-threatening bleeding episodes, thousands of IV needle pokes, shocking financial mountains, and wickedly relentless PTSD. Even so, we have clung to the belief that our Maker can create beauty from ashes.
Where would we ever be... Who would we ever be if we had not walked down this painful, often-heartbreaking trail with our son? While there have been many, many days where I have felt like I would die from the crushing weight of a broken heart, I still stand in the strength of the LORD. He tells me in His word, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18, NIV) This means, my sorrow... OUR sorrow... has afforded us the opportunity to draw closer to the Sovereign Creator and Savior of the Universe. True, we still have to make the choice of whether or not we will take that opportunity to step towards our loving Father, but the point is that our sadness can create a unique opening to grow in intimacy with our Creator that we would not have had without it.
The simple fact is, we would not be the people we are had we not been granted this difficult, often unwelcome, gift. Here are some of the gifts that hemophilia has given us:
- Opportunities to meet some incredible, unique people -- Whether it be medical staff or fellow sojourners, we have met some amazing individuals over the years, all marked with the beautiful fingerprints of God. We have met some of the most inspiring, funny, and talented people through this journey. I shudder to think of what we would be without many of them.
- Increased compassion -- As 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, we are comforted to be a comfort to others. I can confidently say that the Lord has softened our hearts towards others who suffer in this life because of the challenges we have endured. Service has become a habit for my children, because they have seen us do it since Day 1.
- Perspective -- It is way too easy in this world to become self-absorbed, self-centered, and self-pitying. Nothing will cure you of that like having a medically fragile child or one who has special needs. Things I used to think were a big crisis have suddenly shrunk in size. And when I think I have it bad, I always see someone around me who has things much worse than I.
- Intimacy with Christ -- Paul assures us in his letter to the Church in Rome, "If we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His. If we share His sufferings, we know that we will ultimately share in His glory." (Romans 8:17, VOICE) I can never celebrate enough that my troubles drew me away from my sinful life and closer to Jesus!
- Having a front-row seat to see miracles -- Our God is the God of the impossible situation. NOTHING gives you the opportunity to fully see that than struggling through medical mayhem or cognitive chaos with your child. From the Lord's financial provision at times where it seemed all hope was gone, to inexplicably stopping persistent bleeding episodes, I have had the privilege of witnessing things that transcend any earthly explanation. What grace to see God's hand at work in the midst of our son's sorrows!
PRAY: Father, we know that everything that comes to us touches You first. Thank You for being the only One who can transform our trials into triumphs and our burdens into blessings.
~ Barb Dittrich