We are celebrating a small victory this week. Valor appears to have caught and fought off a cold for the first time. His hematologists said this would happen occasionally, but it hasn't yet. Every runny nose has become a multi-day hospital stay and blood transfusion, until this week.
As Valor's eyes drooped, energy faded, smiles waned and nose began to run, we looked at our calendars. What needed to be cancelled to make room for this week's imminent hospital stay? What emotional preparations were required? By the fourth tour of care, muscle memory and emotional battle-testing are fairly developed.
Testing has become a theme, too. Peter considers grievous trials and the testing of our faith more valuable than gold, so that we will receive "praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6b-7). Paul considers "persecutions and afflictions" God's righteous means for discerning our worthiness of his kingdom (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5). Even Jesus was battle-tested by suffering to prove his worthiness (Hebrews 5:8, Revelation 5:12).
Testing is both familiar and strange. We stress-test our bridges and banks. We value battle-tested soldiers to lead in combat. Yet to speak of battle-tested civilians or the importance of being stress-tested by God (as Peter & Paul do) is discomforting, even bizarre.
Why the disconnect? We view bridges, banks and soldiers as serving larger purposes beyond themselves. Can this bridge hold this many cars? Can this bank survive another financial crisis? Can this soldier remain courageous and calm under fire? The only way to know is to test. It would be cruel not to. The goal is not shame, failure or pain. The goal is preparation for a purpose and remediation for that purpose if the person or thing fails the test.
And there's the disconnect. We don't view ourselves as serving someone's greater purpose beyond our personal self-fulfillment. So the thought of God testing us for our role in his eternal purposes doesn't even compute. Bridges need testing. We don't.
A couple days into Valor's snotting nose and dissipating smile, it happened. He started to recover. For having an incurable genetic disease, ironically, Valor is the strongest of our 5 children at this age. He would easily rocket from our arms if not held tight. When he's not well, it shows. When he recovers, that shows too. Slowly his eyes grew brighter. His smiles waxed. His nose dried up, and our laps returned to the miniature trampolines they were.
We're not sure what God's eternal purposes are for Valor or us. We don't know why we're going through the tests we are. And we don't know what the future holds. But today we are surprised by strength. God's Strength, Elijah & Brandi 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.