Health Update

December 24th marked the anniversary of my first liver transplant sixteen years ago as well as the death of my third child last year.  It was a hard but good holiday for us as we spent time together as a family thinking about all the Lord has done for His glory.  Today marks the anniversary of my second liver transplant and instead of celebration, I feel somewhat shoved to the ground with my face down in the mud of contemplation.

I write in my office now, after having posted on twitter some disheartening news, reeling from the possibility of new trials and new circumstances that seem to plague me.  Oh Father, why do they plague me, bite at me, and never let me go?  I know I will not get the answer to the why, but Lord; Lord!  It is hard for me right now; my flesh is screaming loudly in my ears.  I heard from the medical staff at SCRIPPS that the latest blood test results for my liver were not good; in fact, it was bad enough to elicit very important tests and scans that could only mean one thing; my health is in flux again.  The earliest I could get in to get these tests is January 10th with a follow up appointment on January 30th, a day before my oldest son’s fifth birthday; two weeks after the anniversary of my third liver transplant five years ago.  I am not a victim; Oh Lord, I am not a victim!  I have given my life to you, and yet I take myself off the altar so many times.

I need your hands to cradle me and enfold me and lift me up.  I need you to physically take my eyes off of these trials and force me to look only upon you.  I don’t care; take the clay that is my life and mold it!  I don’t want to, yet I do want to, look upon these trials yet again and feel like a rag doll pulled elastically back to the reality that is my life.  I know nothing; nothing is certain but your love for me.  You have imputed me with your righteousness as through your death you have been imputed with my unrighteousness.  You indeed broke the chains of my sin and have set me upon a hill like a city to proclaim the light of your truth to the world that will see.  And yet I feel alone right now Lord; alone in my trials, alone in my pain, alone in the confusion that pours over my heart and mind.

No.

I am not alone.  I will focus on your truth.  I will contemplate and meditate on your word as the only source of strength, for I know that I am nothing more than a beggar in search for food and strength and nourishment from the fountain of living waters.  Plant me by and in your truth; give me your life-giving sap of abundance that is your presence as I seek nothing more than you right now.  Swaddle me in the cocoon of your love and breathe life into my dry dry bones as I’m so tired.  Oh Jesus, I need you!  I need you so desperately.

The mantle of these trials upon these shoulders you have given me are not my heritage; you are.  They are not mine to carry, they are not mine to bear.  They are yours; and to you this is possible.  My wife is pregnant; expecting child within two months.  I was dying with my third transplant needed five years ago; so sick in fact that I was in a walking comma.  Kelly was pregnant with my first son, about to give birth, and about to lose her husband.  You proved yourself faithful again, and as I kneel to this truth, I know you will be faithful according to your steadfast love and will.  Your word, according to Psalm 119, is my counselor; may your testimonies be the loudest in my ears as I have only to look back on your goodness to find strength.  I look back on that time and know that you will take care of us.  You have never failed me; you have never failed any of us.

You are my God.  Help me to praise you during this time.  Help me to point others to your goodness and your everlasting covenant of grace made through Jesus Christ alone.  If this is a race, then indeed, let me run to you with eyes fixed obsessively on you.  If my finish line is near, help me to run the race set before me with endurance and faithfulness.  But may my life give glory to you alone; for this is what I was created for.  This is your plan for me.  This is my meaning to life.

I will find out more information as soon as the doctors get back from their vacations early next week; but my life is in the hands of the Almighty who gives grace to the humble and increases the power of the weak.  Give me eyes to see Lord, that indeed there is nothing to fear and that you have overcome all of this.

A Faithful God in December

Last year my son died.  It’s impossible to forget; in fact I don’t even want to.  Today, he would have been alive for ten days last year; knee deep in surgeries with a host of prayer warriors across the world petitioning for a little giant who captivated us.  Today, I am in my office with only memories of that cataclysmic time.  Each day that passes I don’t exactly dwell on him, but I would be lying if I said I don’t at least stop and remember the smells and sights of the ECMO machine, the CDH issues, and the neo natal intensive care unit.  I look at my wife often throughout the day and I see her carrying our next child, due late February or early March, noticing too the toll life has thrown at us.  This time of the year brings back so much.

Each liver transplant I have had, all three, were in the throws of December.  One transplant was done on the 23rd of December, another on the 28th, and still one more in January over the course of ten years.  The one in January, however, was probably the most difficult as Kelly was pregnant with my first son, Noah, while her husband was in a walking coma for much of December and January.  And last year, my son died on December 24th.  From one perspective, December has not been kind.

But from another perspective, one in which I see but do not see, one in which is given through the eyes of faith in Jesus Christ, proves to show me that our God is faithful.  I have only to look at Abraham, through the writings of Paul, in Romans 4, to see that my God has been faithful to His children throughout the ages.  Romans 4.16, 19-21 “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent to the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all…He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.  No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”

Faith is a divine gift from our Divine Father.  Abraham was given faith, and the faith that he was given was counted to him as righteousness through Jesus Christ alone as he looked forward to the promised Seed.  He believed for Christ’s righteousness and rightness, and this I do as well.  It is the reality of the gospel, the quintessential manifestation of the faithfulness of God displayed through love.  But what strikes me to the heart right now is the statement in verses 20-21, “no distrust made him waiver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”

It is no secret that a host of us have been through difficult and trying times.  But as we see with eyes of faith and experience the goodness of God despite the sin in our lives, are we too fully convinced that God will do what He has promised?  And do we even know what that great promise is?  It is nothing short of full redemption from the struggles of our lives, full reconciliation to the Father through Jesus Christ, and an eternity of fullness in perfection for the rest of our existence.

This is the goodness of the Christmas season that we must continue to look upon.  Jesus Christ, in the flesh, fulfilling all righteousness where we have failed.  Despite the difficulties in our lives, despite the horrible trials of December that it has brought to many of us, we must see not the trials, but the faithfulness of December.  The perfect life, the sacrificial death, the glorious resurrection of Christ, and the gift of faith given to us by the Father elicits in our lives a righteousness not our own.  Romans 4.24-25, “It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

Our God is faithful, even when we are not.  Regardless, we can rest assured in the work of Christ, and proclaim from the rooftops even when tragedy strikes, that our God is faithful, even in December.