"Wait, what?! I've never heard that could happen!" Those were Brandi's thoughts on Monday after hearing, "Sometimes they grow out of it," from Valor's Duke Pediatric Hematologist (blood doctor). The doctor was struggling to explain Valor's 4500 neutrophil count test results. In context 4500 is nearly three times his prior high of 1600 and well above his standard hospitalization level of zero neutrophils. 1500 is considered normal. His white blood cell count of 12.5 was also far healthier than all previous results.
Last year at Valor's diagnosis we had quizzed this same Pediatric Hematologist, "Do Shwachman Diamond conditions stay the same, deteriorate or can they improve?" Her response, "They tend to decline over time. We just won't know how fast until we track Valor's trajectory."
What makes the past couple weeks even more confusing is that Valor has been quite sick. He's stopped eating and drinking for long periods of time. He's lost a pound off his already slender weight. He's had a red rash all over his body similar to Fifth Disease. He has rarely slept through the night. His throat glands look like ping pong balls. And he's generally whimpered, screamed and just wanted to be held.
Brandi and I fully expected Valor's two routine doctor visits this week in Hope Mills and Duke to turn into automatic hospital stays. But they didn't. His numbers were astonishingly good. He had no temperature. The fundamentals were strong. Doctors suspected he was just fighting back to back viruses.
This raises a mysterious question. Can God partially heal you? We took Valor to a healing service one month ago on December 15 at Resurrection Church and asked God to heal him. Could God be doing that very thing, at least partly? We've taken a cautious "time will tell" approach and that continues. After all we've had hope before and been wrong. But the past month, we've had resignation and been wrong--4500 neutrophils wrong.
Richard Hays in his 1996 book, The Moral Vision of the New Testament, observes Jesus' ministry contains one partial healing. In Mark 8:22-26 Jesus spits on a blind man's eyes, lays hands on him and asks, "Do you see anything?" The man responds, "I see people, but they look like trees walking." Jesus lays hands on the man's eyes again. Then "his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly." It was a partial healing, followed by a complete healing.
Coming immediately before Peter's confession of Jesus as "the Christ" in Mark 8:27-30, Hays suggests the story of partial healing is a spiritual picture of Peter. Peter confessed Jesus as the Christ. But Peter didn't yet "see" Jesus would go to the cross, die and rise again. The complete healing of Peter's spiritual eyes awaited Jesus' resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Maybe Valor has been partially healed by Jesus in his bone marrow, but not yet in his pancreas. Maybe Jesus will touch the rest of his body for complete healing. Or maybe he will have a relapse again soon and go back to square one. Time will tell.
But the Apostle Paul is clear on one thing. All people who have come to Jesus, releasing their selfish independence to participate in his death and resurrection have experienced a partial healing from spiritual blindness. Paul says, "Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).
In God's wisdom, he sees fit to heal our spiritual eyes partially now. Then completely at the return of Christ. Sometimes he does the same with our bodies.
Meet the Authors: Elijah & Brandi Lovejoy
On March 15, 2019 nine days before his 6 month birthday, our son, Valor Emmanuel Lovejoy, entered Duke Children's Hospital for the second time with a recent fever, low white and red blood cell counts and a below 1% weight chart gain. Doctors suspect Valor has Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, a disease that effects bone marrow health, pancreatic function and sometimes skeletal structure, among other symptoms. You can learn more about SDS here: www.shwachman-diamond.org. I (Elijah) am a pastor, and I (Brandi) am a volunteer Children's Ministry Director and home school mom to our five children.
These Chronicles are written from a Christian perspective in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." We believe the Lord does his best and deepest work through profound patterns of death and resurrection, particularly as pioneered and embodied in Jesus Christ's own death and resurrection. Through faith and ongoing participation in Jesus' death and resurrection, we offer these Valor Chronicles in hope that others will find comfort, hope, peace and resurrection life with us in Jesus.