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By Koos Stenger
After our three year old son had been diagnosed with leukemia our lives changed drastically. How do you as parents cope with the news that the little fellow that brought so much joy suddenly had to face such a life-threatening disease?
There is no formula for it. You just take it as it comes.
You seek shelter in the loving arms of the tender Shepherd, but you still have to do the walking.
And after we walked together as a family, holding Jesus' hand through many difficult days, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. The doctors pronounced him 'healed'.
But years later the ugly monster raised its foul head again.
The cancer had returned, this time in an unfamiliar country with different people, a different culture, and a different hospital.
But the fears were the same and so was the pain, and the endless waiting for even the tiniest signs of improvement.
We had to take it just as we had done before; moment by moment, day by day and step by step. Again we walked as a family, holding the hand of the Shepherd and again there was victory as the cancer was defeated and we raised our arms in joyful praise.
Now we were certain it would be over.
But it wasn't.
Three years later we discovered the ominous signs that the evil destroyer was back in business. At first we tried to deny it.
It could not be true. The dark marks on his skin that told the story of the return of leukemia would probably leave. It was something else. But deep inside we knew better.
The cancer had returned.
How could life be so cruel? How do you tell your son, now ten years old, that he has to face that battle again? Who survives such an attack three times?
We cried. We felt so much pain and we could not understand, but we knew, like Paul that: We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
(2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
We were not angry at God. How could we be angry at the giver of life? Shall we not take the good with the bad?
Our tender Shepherd helped our hearts to stay soft and we prayed: "Dear Lord. Carry us and especially carry our son. We want You to know we trust You. We don't understand, but we are not angry. How could we be angry at You, Who have given us so much to be thankful for? Life is in Your hands and whatever the outcome we want You to know that we yield to you."
And there we were; back in the hospital.
And again we walked as a family, holding on to our tender Shepherd. What else can you do?
The doctor looked troubled. "Look," he said. "The only thing that could possibly bring permanent healing is a bone marrow transplant, but where do we find a donor?"
We did not know. A perfect match is hard to find.
We had all been tested before, but none of our immediate family was a match.
"Let's test again," said the doctor.
So we did.
The next week he met us with a great smile on his face. "Your youngest son," he said, "is almost a match. We can adapt some cells in the bone marrow and make it a match. Shall we go for it?"
We were perplexed. "God, what are You doing?"
It was no instant victory. Again it took days, weeks and even months before we knew he would survive. But he did.
How do you go through a crisis?
You hold the hand of the Shepherd. Moment by moment, hour by hour and day by day.
Whether we live or whether we die, we can trust in the One who has a loving plan for our lives, even though we may not always understand it at the time.
It is enough to know that He knows, He cares and He understands.
He too does that moment by moment and day by day.
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