Friday, August 24, 2012

Some residents of the assisted living facility
next door keep gardens.
In Mark 9 a desperate father brings his only son to Jesus after failed attempts by a group of disciples to heal the boy of demon possession that causes seizures and made him mute. The disciples are arguing with the Jewish teachers who, some scholars think, want to confine the disciples healing to a Jewish ritualistic exorcism. So, when the healing failed, the disciples are confused and begin to doubt their faith. The father, having witnessed the failure and questioning of the disciples, is now desperate and begs Jesus to heal him “if” he can. Oh, my. This man is face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ in a desperate appeal for a miracle to save his son, and he says “if you can.” I can just imagine that Jesus stops and frowns a bit, and in some translations He repeats in irritation what the father says, “’If you can’?” Kind of like He was saying “Excuse me, I’m sorry, did you just say ‘if you can?’ because I think I heard you say ‘if’ to Me”. We don’t know at this point what the father’s beliefs were before the disciples’ attempt except that we can assume he at least had a curiosity and knowledge of the miracles that were being preformed through Jesus’ name because he brought his son to the disciples in hopes he would be healed, but after the failure it seems he was an unbeliever and he let that one slip. I’m thinking that Jesus doesn’t like to use miracles for unbelievers. Even when he came through his hometown of Nazareth the Bible says in Matthew 13:58 that “He did not do miracles there because of their disbelief.” That’s pretty clearly written. Miracles were used to support His claim to being the Christ, and supplement the faith that He is; faith at some genuine level has to be there. So, when this father says “if,” Jesus is frustrated because He knows this man does not believe and is making the rounds trying anything to just rid his son of the demon, and the message from the Son of Man is bigger than a boy being healed. Jesus cuts him to the heart in verse 23 when He tells him “All things are possible to him who believes.” That hurts because this father knows he is an unbeliever, and he needs this, he needs this miracle. Then in verse 24, distraught he cries, “I do believe. Help me with my unbelief.” Chilling, isn’t it? He says he believes, but he knows there is a barrier or just something in his heart or brain that just can’t seem to commit or is fickle despite what he knows, or has heard, or maybe has witnessed, which we have already established he must have had some kind of belief to get him there. So, he begs for help in ridding himself of his own demon of disbelief. I could sense God’s frustration with me this week. I’m sure it’s no surprise that the families of Ryan and Hunter weigh on my heart at all times. With Ryan’s family making their walk through the valley of the Shadow, preparing for a day that looms. Hunter’s family emotionally mangled from the fight to an end that will continue to haunt them. I hurt for them, and I’m afraid for us. I have been struck violently by reality many times since December 29, 2011, and Wednesday was yet another blow, but this time I saw it coming. You can imagine the high-dose “education” I’ve gotten over the last nine months (which feels like years of yesterdays) as a new member of this cancer community. Off and on, usually correlating with when I’m with Eli, I read articles about the disease, treatments, treatment centers, patients, clinical trials, verbiage and really it varies depending on how deep my clicking goes.
One of his favorites.
So, as I’ve mentioned in prior posts, we are trying to be proactive with plans B,C, and D, so that we are as prepared as we can be for any outcome any time. So, after Ryan’s recurrence, I stepped up my efforts in learning about treatments and recurrent tumors so that when we are sitting in that office looking at Eli’s scans again, we have a plan. As a side note, it depends on when a recurrence happens, and what and where it is, but in general, it would likely be devastating, nevertheless, I want to be informed. So, through this amateur research and as a member of this community, I become aware of histories of other children fighting medulloblastoma, such as I did with Ryan, Hunter, and Lucy. It is an emotional read because it seems like more often than not, the news is not good. Since I can’t seem to find a dependable crystal ball, I do use these children as examples and guides through our own journey. After Ryan’s news and Hunter’s passing, I became “dismayed” despite what it says in Isaiah 41:10. I kept wondering where is the 60% (using the most conservative of the survival rate). Who is a member of the 60? Lucy, is she it? An impressive story of survival and God’s handiwork, but the devil filled my heart with doubt, so her story seemed too extraordinary therefore is an exception not the rule and I needed a rule by which to measure. The road suddenly felt lonely. As one weak in faith, a Bible verse wasn’t enough, I wanted examples of the 60. I wanted to know there was somebody ahead of us on our journey, somebody else still on the road. So, I would read and click, click and read, still where is the 60? Then Wednesday night, literally minutes before I saw the post about Hunter, I saw a link in a long list of children fighting cancer that said “Drake Dahn 7 years old (Medulloblastoma)”. I just stared at it. Did I dare click it, because I wasn’t sure my heart could take another one. I was coming down from a pleading prayer asking for the healing of Eli and for “help with my unbelief.” How frustrated God must be with me daily, just as Jesus was with the father of the boy. I ask God for something, but then don’t trust what He says to me in the Bible through inspired writers. So, with a weary hand, I clicked the link. A little brown-haired boy with one dimple smiled through squinty eyes back at me on the page as it loaded and my heart sank to see such a sweet face that looked so similar to the little boy on my pages. Then the first sentence read “Drake is in remission!!” What? How old is this post, because surely, I thought, there is a later one that says “Drake lost his fight…” or “Dear friends, we are sorry…”  So, I searched for the date of the post and it was August 10, 2012. The next thing was a link or a title that said something like “Pictures from Drake’s 14th birthday.” Fourteen? But, the original link said he was 7, I thought to myself. I held my breath and searched more intensely through the history, skimmed some back posts, and looked at the dates. It was true; Drake Dahn is a 14-year-old survivor, a member of the 60. I dropped my face in my hands and sobbed shamefully that I so badly needed that example. It was like God was saying “Did you say “if you can’”? Minutes later, I read a post about Hunter and may have become hysterical had my dear friend not called and unknowingly talked me down. So, I hung Drake’s light out in front of us and we trudge onward. I wrote a post to his site thanking the mother for continuing to journal through the darkness and into the light.
The ABS volleyball team with Eli bracelets.
Oh, and, here’s my favorite part about the story of Jesus healing the boy. Mark makes a point to tell us in the scriptures that Jesus noticed a crowd was gathering, and it wasn’t until then that he healed the boy. Luke also makes a point to write about the crowd saying that after the boy was healed the crowd was “amazed at the greatness of God.” I’m not convinced that Jesus would have healed the boy based on the father’s plea because of his unbelief. But, when the opportunity to further His message and show “the greatness of God” presented itself by a “crowd gathering”, Jesus healed the boy. There is not a minute, not a single minute that I am not thankful for the crowd that has gathered in support of Eli. And, I think this is the perfect Biblical example to show how important it is to share Eli’s story and raise awareness about childhood cancer because the message of God’s greatness is bigger than healing a boy, but by healing a boy the message of God’s greatness will spread because of the crowd that has gathered.


  1. This is very brave of you to be so open and raw with all of us. I appreciate your honesty in your words more than you know. We must believe! Believing will remove the mountain! Fight!!!

  2. Kristie,
    I had the pleasure of meeting your family this morning at Madison CofC. One of these days when I am visiting Jean and Freda's family I hope to meet you and Eli. Y'all are definitely in my prayers and soon the family will be back together as Eli continues to heal and get stronger.
    Dot Washington


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