I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13, 14 )
December should be a time of happy anticipation, one celebration after another. Birthdays (we have many in our family this month), holiday parties, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, my parents’ anniversary, New Year’s Eve….There is something about all this that makes every clock and watch in my life step into overdrive. It also has a way of making my calendar feel like a bit of a prison. Without fail I get about halfway in and am desperate for a miracle. Something to slow it all down, make me be still and really take in Advent.
Starting sometime in the summer, I began getting email updates from one of my friends that her husband, Ben’s liver disease that had been diagnosed 6 years before had started causing severe infections. These infections had reached his blood and were putting him in the hospital for extended periods with the need for IV antibiotics. They were working toward a liver transplant for him which even meant a temporary relocation of their family including four kids between the ages of 14 mos and 9 years to the Jacksonville, Florida area to be on the transplant list with Mayo Clinic. In late November after a few cancelled procedures for transplant and persistent infections, his situation became dire. His family started a crusade to get the word out that if he was going to have a successful transplant it was most likely going to have to come from a designated donation. This meant that a family who was facing the devastating reality of losing a loved one would have to designate that Ben receive the liver from their loved one. In addition to a family having to make this incredibly difficult decision, there were many other factors that had to be just so for it to be a successful outcome.
When I read my friend’s update on November 26th with the details of exactly what their family needed to save Ben, I was completely overwhelmed. My heart ached and my mind raced. I was desperate to do something, something to bring out the God-flavors and shed God-colors on this impossible situation. I say that because in my own comprehension, it was an impossible situation.
December made its arrival and the usual bondage to the clock and calendar began for me but with anxious thoughts and pleading prayers being offered up for Ben. There was a day in particular that I was really struggling with doubt. Despite my own healing and experience of God’s faithfulness during my breast cancer journey, my mind was plagued with the uncertainty that He would provide for Ben. I heard a few really important reminders that doubting day…#1 Doubt is normal. #2 God always answers our doubt with Truth. And he had. He had already reminded me of Psalm 27:13-14 and was beckoning me to BELIEVE it.
On Tuesday morning, December 10th, I awoke early to the vibrations of my phone proclaiming that a winter storm was on its way and schools were closed for the day. It was also my husband, Blake’s birthday so I was ready to hit the floor running. As I reached to the nightstand for my phone, I was stopped in my tracks by an email update from my friend sharing the news that Ben had been in surgery for several hours already after receiving a designated donation from a family who had lost someone in North Carolina.
The hours that followed were full of emotion. I was excited for the chance for a new life for my friend, one that would no longer be about caring for a sick husband and fearing the worst, all while trying to make certain there was no question of love or security in her four kids. I was sad for a family that was mourning their loved one and praying there was an extra measure of comfort in their courageous decision to give life to someone else through their loss. I was amazed that God really had heard our prayers and showed up to provide for every detail of Ben’s story. I was ashamed that I had spent any second of the last few weeks doubting that He would.
I am just one of the many who got to sit on the sidelines and watch this epic victory unfold. I am certain I am also just one of the many that were deeply affected by it. This year, Ben’s miracle story was the speed bump, the time-out I was so desperately seeking. The days of December marched on but suddenly had a different feel to them. The anticipation was there but the bondage was not. And the anticipation was no longer for the arrival of certain dates on the calendar, it was for a celebration of the greatest miracle history has ever known, our Savior coming to earth.
All Glory to God for Ben’s life and the gift of Jesus.