I have been regularly blessed with emails of encouragement, support and hope over the last years; one person who has consistently written is Christy, the wife of my brother’s college roommate, Steve. At the end of February when I received an email from her with the subject “God Knows” I didn’t anticipate the heart-wrenching news it contained… “I feel that I have stepped one step closer to what you feel. Our youngest, a twin, has been diagnosed with leukemia. I realize it’s nothing like Krabbe disease but it gives me a glimpse into your world that I never could have had otherwise…”
My heart sank; I am regularly gripped by the many stories I hear of children facing horrible diseases, but this hit me especially hard—someone who has supported us through our journey with Judson suddenly fearing for the life of their own child.
Steve and Christy’s son, David, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and although it is a highly treatable cancer, his case has been more severe than originally anticipated. Their family is now riding the roller coaster of treatment and prognosis. Meanwhile, their faith is being beautifully displayed in the midst of these difficult circumstances.
Christy recently emailed me with a heavy question that struck at the rawness of my experience…
Question: I know you dealt with prayer in your book. Do you believe that God predetermined everything that Judson would endure?
My heart felt the tremendous weight of her words…not simply because it cut to the core of my raw experience, but because it wasn’t an abstract question for her; she is now deeply wrestling with prayer and the sovereignty of God where the life of her own precious son now hinges upon God’s answer.
Drake and I are still, and probably will always be, wounded over God’s answer to our prayers for Judson. So my response admittedly stems more from my emotions rather than trying to theologically understand God’s decision to heal Judson in heaven rather than here on earth. And to be frank, much of the time I feel like God gave us a scorpion when we asked for an egg (Luke 11). But I trust his Word is true and therefore surrender daily to the fact that I don’t see God’s perspective on the difference between an egg and a scorpion.
We asked. We asked because God called us to ask. We begged, we pleaded, we were relentless and at times audacious in our request.
Could our prayers have/did our prayers move the hand of God in Judson’s circumstance? Oh man, this is a tough question for me! In the broadest sense, my heart says “no”—that no matter how much we pleaded for our son’s life, this is the exact journey God had for Jud, much like he did for his own Son. Yet, I also think there were circumstances in the process where God intervened in the smaller details of our situation because of our prayers. So yes, I guess I believe God foreordained this journey for Judson, but not necessarily every aspect of Jud’s life.
Christy similarly expressed, “I completely believe in the sovereignty of God but not that He has predetermined every minute detail of each life. The men of God in the Bible believed they could change God’s mind. They believed He would heal people. They believed God would interact with them. I feel like my brain cannot even make sense of all of this. I suppose that’s when God writes on the window of my car TRUST (referencing Eyes that See pages 179, 246, & 262)… In the end, I always end up with knowing that God’s ways are higher than mine. Who can understand the mind of God? His ways are always just.” God knows.
In my heart of hearts, I do believe prayer can move the hand of God. Since we don’t know when, or how, or why, or where God will move, that may be why faithfulness simply entails asking.
And so I am asking. I am asking for God to intervene in David’s body and heal him. Will you join me in praying for the Helm family? Please visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/DavidHelm to follow David’s journey.