But at the tail end of summer, right before the kids started school, a swell came in from the horizon. I saw Marcus crawling around one day, bumping his head on different things. It wasn't anything new, but this time, he was obviously distraught, burying his head in his arms and crying out, "Mommy, It's so hard. I don't know how to see."
I couldn't sleep that night. We are on high alert whenever Marcus indicates anything regarding his vision, so I cried and prayed all night, begging God to guard what little vision Marcus has, even though the doctors say his retinal degeneration is inevitable. I feared it was the beginning of my son losing his eyesight, adding another layer of pain to the challenges he already faces.
As He usually does in times of despair, the Lord led me to Psalm 34, drawing my attention specifically to verses 19-20.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.
When I read this passage years ago when Marcus was first diagnosed, I didn't have faith that God would follow through with this promise...to deliver us from our afflictions. I thought the only way God would do that was by healing Marcus from his condition. But this time, I read it with a clearer understanding. God doesn't promise to take away our afflictions, but He promises to deliver us from them by protecting us in the midst of them. When I read it this time, I felt my eyes were opened to the truth that the way God shows us His love isn't necessarily by taking AWAY our pain, but by loving us IN our pain. Not one of my bones will be broken in hardship, He says.
By God's grace, I noticed my heart had grown a little from a few years back. I woke up from that restless night's sleep with thanksgiving, that God would give me a spiritual love-pinch, a poke in my rib to make sure I was alive and not just a dead weight coasting along. After probing Marcus more about it the next morning, he clarified that his vision wasn't changing, but sometimes it bothered him more than usual and that sometimes it was "hard to see". I asked him if he was sad or okay and he assured me that he was alright. (By the way, we are SO thankful that Marcus can even verbally communicate all this. It is a huge deal and we in no way take this for granted.) So yes, I was thankful that God would use this vision episode not as a code red for Marcus, but as a spiritual defibrillator for me, giving me a good hearty slap in the toosh to make sure I wasn't sleeping my way through the path of following Christ.
Since then, He's allowed for more opportunities for our faith to be stretched. For example, Marcus took a fall at school recently, cried on a different day because he was scared, and today he told his aide at school that he never ever wants to go back to kindergarten again. But through the various hurdles, He's also given us some precious truths to hold onto.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
1 Peter 1:6-7
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ
I could go into a long boring commentary on how these passages have taken a hold of me, but in summary: I love how different afflictions big and small can bring my heart to life by drawing from the Words of Life. They remind me that though it can be comfortable to just happily float along day by day, there is far more joy in desperately clinging onto Him who helps me persevere toward a great and glorious Day.
I've said it many times before, but goodness, do I thank God for our dear Marcus. How I greatly rejoice. My heart is alive and well.