When Christian, our son, was four years old we thought we were going to lose him. At four he was into everything so when he began to slow down and nap more than normal I was concerned about him. I took him to see his pediatrician and after he examined him he sent us home saying that he thought everything was fine, might just be a change in the weather or allergies. If you’re a parent you’ll know this, we instinctively know when something is wrong with our child so I took him back. This time the doctor ran blood tests. When he came back with the preliminary results he seemed concerned. He told us that he’d have a better picture by the following day. He gave Christian a cartoon sticker, told us not to worry and left the room. Barry took Christian to the car to get his juice box but I went back inside and asked to see the doctor again. He was a friend and I asked him to be straight with me and let me know what he thought could be wrong. He was reluctant but I pressed him. He said it could be anything from one to ten, from something as simple as allergies or low iron count to more serious things. I asked him what the more serious thing was. He paused for a moment, then he sat down and said one word, “Leukemia.”
We drove though McDonalds on the way home as Christian wanted a “Happy Meal.” At that moment I would have bought him a pony. He’d asked if he could sleep in our bed that night and by eight o’clock he and Barry were fast asleep. I paced the floor all night trying to bargain with God.
“If it is leukemia please, please give it to me. He’s too little to bear this.”
I was so afraid for my son. I wanted a normal life for him. I didn’t want hospitals and chemotherapy and pain. About 3 o’clock in the morning I read this,
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1 (NLT)
I grabbed hold of these words and reminded God of what He has said. I stood in the kitchen and prayed out loud,
I’m reminding You of Your promise. You have promised to be a refuge so I am choosing now to take refuge in you. I’m afraid and I need your help. You’ve said that you are my strength and I need your strength right now as I don’t have any of my own. I’m in trouble, please help me.
As I poured out my fear and my pain I felt God pour in His love and peace. I fell asleep until the doctor called us the following morning. It was good news. Christian was anemic, easily treated. I was so relieved, grateful that he would never even have to know of the possibility of something worse. Not long after that I was speaking at a conference and shared that story. At the end, a woman came up to me and told me that she got the other phone call, the one you don’t want. She must have seen the look on my face as I thought of how my happy outcome must have been like salt in an open wound to her. She grabbed my hand and said,
“No Sheila, don’t feel bad. You need to know this. Whether you get the answer you pray for or the answer you fear, God is with us. He is always with us.”
I thought about that for a long time. We had both experienced the hand of God reaching down into the place where we had fallen. Our outcomes were different but the one thing that we both shared was the gift of God’s presence even in the midst of our fears. The gift of His peace. I pause here and pray for you right now.
I’m asking God to give you the strength to keep holding on when you’re afraid.
I’m asking God to hold you and not let go, even if you bark or wriggle or bite.
Life is full of unexpected miracles if we have eyes to see them.
Sometimes the greatest miracle is the one that happens in us. We discover at a depth we’ve never known before that we are held, we are loved, we are not alone. Not ever alone.
Sheila Walsh is a Bible teacher and bestselling author with more than six million books sold. She is cohost of the television program “Life Today,” airing in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia, with almost one billion potential viewers daily. Calling Texas home, Sheila lives in Dallas with her husband, Barry; her son, Christian; and two little dogs, Tink and Maggie, who rule the roost. Her latest book, Holding On When You Want to Let Go, is available now.
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Taken from Holding On When You Want to Let Go by Sheila Walsh. Used by permission of Baker Publishing.