Most cultures of the ancient world contain a catastrophic flood story of some kind. The stories often involve a boat, a lone person or family who was saved and a stated reason for judgment by God or the gods. (Visit this website for examples: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/flood-myths.html )
As Valor's emerging diagnosis and the seriousness of his condition has sunk in, I've felt a growing sympathy with Noah and the Biblical flood story. Not only have my tears come rolling down like waves, but test results and ominous sounding medical words like "failure to thrive," "multiple blood lines down" and "possible leukemia" crashed into my ears with growing alarm. Like the panic of a drowning person, I gasped under an avalanche of dread as Valor gleefully smiled, bobbing around his waving hands and feet...
I know we're not the first people to hear bad news. I also know our bad news pales in comparison to what many have heard and experienced. We are not in a country where children die regularly due to insufficient medical care. Our son is not in a vegetative state. We are not a soldier's spouse hearing our loved one will not come home. Our village has not been bombed or overrun by government, rebel or terrorist forces.
But at some level, we can all relate to the devastation of the Noah story. Imagine the slow motion death of animals outside the ark drowning one by one. Imagine the horror as people who scrambled to the high ground realized the high ground was not high enough. Imagine Noah and his family, the lone survivors, reeling as they witnessed the greatest natural disaster the world has ever known. "Why did my neighbors die while I lived? What kind of God would do this? Will there ever be life on earth again outside the ark? Will God send another flood? If we do get off the ark, where do we go? How do we start over?"
Many similar questions flooded my mind as I wrestled with Valor's condition. "Will Valor have to live in a germ-free bubble? Will he ever be able to play soccer or have friends? Will Valor make it to his 4th birthday? Will our family be able to take a vacation away from Valor's hospital again? Will I ever be able to talk without crying? What should we do first, second and third when we take Valor home from the hospital?"
Sometimes good news is harder to hear than bad, because we're used to hearing bad news. As I immersed myself in the Noah story, I heard good news. There will be life again. The dove has brought an olive branch of hope and fresh fruitfulness. The flood waters are receding and a new earth is appearing. The ark has landed and we will soon walk out into the new earth. God has spared us and given us fresh assurance of his presence and stability in the earth.
We are still in the hospital. We have not yet gotten off the ark and returned home. But I do know one thing. There will be life again. Jesus' resurrection has seen to that. The Holy Spirit will show us where to plant our seeds, how to care for Valor, how to incorporate our older four children into this new reality, how not to lose our marriage but grow closer, how to continue as a pastor, father, husband and servant of the Lord. Not just continue, but thrive. That's the death and resurrection way.
-God's Comfort, Elijah Lovejoy
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.