In early May of 1986, Cyndy, who was only six months old at the time, woke up early in the morning screaming at the top of her lungs. Mark and I assumed she was hungry, but when we tried to pacify her with a bottle, her screaming persisted. Suddenly her body hung limply like a rag doll, and then she started having seizures. When the paramedics arrived, it became clear that Cyndy’s condition was grave, and they made plans to stop at the closest hospital to stabilize her.
I panicked when I first realized that Cyndy was going to require more care than a normal baby would require, speaking medically. Yet, I was not sure if I could give her the care she would need. I had been trained to do some nursing skills—CPR, plus additional EMT training—but I never thought I would need to use it on a family member. Would I remain calm? Would I be able to do what was needed for my very own child? All of these questions were answered. I did what I had to do and just broke down afterwards when I had time to think about what had just happen. Cyndy’s medical problems were too extensive for me to deal on my own. I found myself praying constantly to the Lord, for the much-needed wisdom and strength to take care of her.
Our precious little girl was so sick. Time seem to be standing still. It was as if the emergency crew took hours to get to us, when in reality it was only about ten minutes. My thoughts were racing. Will they arrive before she died? If she did not die on them, would they be in time to keep her from dying? These thoughts of panic and terror were on my mind every time Cyndy would seizure.
Looking back at that nerve-wracking morning, I realize that it was one of those significant moments when I knew that God was truly with me. The paramedics were very direct with us and explained that Cyndy might not live through the evening. Can you imagine hearing those words about your own precious baby girl? Hearing those words echoing repeatedly with no end, I cried out, “Lord, please save my child! Just please do not take her!” In my agony, I cried out to the great Physician, the God over every cell in Cyndy’s body, the Lord who preserves our souls. I called out to the only One who could help, realizing it takes dire circumstances to remind us that we are not in control and that only God is sufficient to meet our most heartfelt needs. What a humbling experience that is, to see the hand of God at work.
My desperate prayer was on the verge of having being answered. As the ambulance turned into the hospital’s entrance, I felt an enormous calmness sweep over me. This sensation was exactly like someone putting His arm around me, telling me the whole thing was going to work out for good. No one was actually touching me. Yet my Lord was holding me and encouraging me that He was in control, and that He would take care of my daughter. God was calling me to trust Him and surrender to Him, and His love completely enveloped me in the midst of my fear.
God wants us to cry out as in Psalm 119:145, where the psalmist says, “I cry out with my whole heart. Hear me, O Lord.” Our loving Father always hears our prayers and answers them according to His perfect plan. In John 14:13-14, Jesus says, “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” Of course, a selfish understanding of these verses would lead us to believe that God does what we tell Him to do. Because of His perfect goodness and mercy, God’s plan is always right, even if it does not match our own wishes. His desires and thoughts are higher than ours are, and we will only know true joy if we surrender to Him.
I prayed many times for Cyndy to be healed completely, but that was not in God’s perfect plan. In this situation, we discovered that Cyndy had a high fever and an ear infection. The doctors assumed that this was the cause of her seizures. None of us was aware that this was just the beginning of Cyndy’s declining health, and the near future held much uncertainty and more health problems that would continue to plague Cyndy during her short life.
We ended up in the hospital again in July of 1986. Being prompted by God to check on Cyndy in her crib, I found her body lying lifeless. When I called the paramedics in a panic, I was so traumatized that I could not even tell them where I had laid Cyndy down. This was another episode where Cyndy had suffered from multiple seizures. Our life had gotten to the point that every time she would experience a seizure; we would have to call the paramedics. We started to feel like we were in crisis mode all the time. There was no time to just be ourselves.
On the day before Thanksgiving that same year, Cyndy was having seizures again. When she first started having seizures in the morning, I drove her to the doctor’s office. With every seizure, the doctors would administer a shot to Cyndy. I was in constant prayer that the medicine would work to control Cyndy’s seizures, and finally by mid afternoon Cyndy stopped seizuring. We had spent all day in the doctor’s office due to her seizures. Finally, I gathered the family to pick up Mark from work. Then Cyndy’s seizures started to increase after picking up her daddy later in the day.
As we were heading home after picking up Mark, Cyndy’s condition grew more severe. Her seizures were becoming life threatening, and she begun to turn blue and have problems breathing. We rushed to the nearest hospital, where a friend from church was an ER doctor. He recognized my screams and came running to take Cyndy and examine her. After putting Cyndy on a ventilator and stopping the seizures with other medicines, the doctor sent her to the children’s hospital for further stabilizing and care. We ended up eating turkey at the hospital that year, thankful that Cyndy was alive but still extremely concerned about her condition.
This was one of those times when it seemed we were going to lose our year old baby girl. Where was God when she was in so much trouble? Why was He sending her through these awful seizures? Our Heavenly Father was with her through each crisis, and He knew what He was doing with her even when we could not see His plan. Cyndy was at peace with her Heavenly Father even when we were not at peace. We had to learn to lean completely on Christ to get us through every single spell she would have. We knew that one time she would go to be with her Father, but we did not know when that time would happen.
This was our first glimpse of God’s intentions for Cyndy. He purposefully created her to be an exceptional child. Cyndy was not meant to be a typical child, but a little girl with special needs. This became our introduction to eleven years of laughter and tears, joy and sorrow. Because of this extreme trial in our lives, God formed in us a greater dependence on His grace and a stronger relationship with Himself. We had to trust God with our precious little girl. Since we are normal, sinful human beings, this did not come easily. We did not even learn this willingly. Trusting God is and continues to be a huge challenge for all of us. Throughout Cyndy’s life, I had to continually surrender my little girl to the Lord, knowing that children in her condition are expected to return to their heavenly Father at a young age.
Things are always clearer in hindsight. You cannot always see Christ’s love and mercy in your life while you are in the midst of suffering. I could not recognize God’s hand at work in Cyndy’s life until much later. This was only the beginning of Cyndy’s health problems, but also the beginning of our journey of seeing the Almighty God work to bring glory to Himself through hard circumstances. We must remember at all times that God can redeem all things for good.
In the stormy seasons of life, we need to just look up to our Heavenly Father and trust Him to be beside us every step of the way. I remember Psalm 121 when I think of our Lord being beside us when we are in trouble
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.”
God is our help and our comforter. If God is not on our side, then who can be for us? He keeps us safe and secure. We can count on the Lord to help us through our rough times in life.
Thank you, Lord, for giving us the strength and wisdom to know Your will and everlasting love. Help us to continue to trust in Your goodness and mercy.
In Christ, Amen.