I've heard it said that having a child exposes your selfishness. Consider how much selfishness is exposed when you have five children. Some of my daily battles include: "I need some down time. I'll let the kids watch videos for a couple of hours, so I can sleep, eat without interruption, or watch a show I want;" "The kids are finally asleep. Now I can relax, eat a yummy late night snack, and do what I want;" "Why are the kids not listening? It's easiest to yell, so I'll give into my anger and scream at them;" "Caring for a newborn is exhausting. I need to sleep in. The dishes can wait. I'd rather drink my coffee and relax than enforce discipline, routine, and structure in my family"...
I recognize that on some levels, these statements are okay. It is important to care for me, and with five kids, I might lose my cool from time to time. But I also know there is a difference between self care for the sake of healthy living and selfishness for the sake of indulgent and idolatrous living.
After hearing Valor's bone marrow diagnosis and the care it will require, his needs overwhelmed me. "I already struggle to selflessly care for my five kids. A new level of selflessness will be required. For the sake of Valor and his health, my selfishness must die. Valor is sick and he needs me." As I pondered that last thought, I saw Jesus' sacrifice in a new way. He gave Himself selflessly because we are sick and we need Him.
Physical ailments have a way of illuminating our spiritual condition. My hope is that Valor's physical condition will remind us of the spiritual condition of our hearts. Just as Valor must regularly check-in with doctors to keep his body healthy, we must regularly "check-in" with our Great Physician to keep our spirits healthy. There will be times when Valor is at the mercy of the doctors. Something will be urgent and without the right intervention, Valor's body will fail. So, too, we will have times of desperation when we are at the mercy of God. Only His "medicine" and intervention will keep our spirits from failing. Just as I look at Valor and think, "He's sick; he needs me, " Jesus looked at us and selflessly sacrificed Himself knowing, "They are sick; they need Me."
As scary and sorrowful as sickness can be, physical health also poses dangers of its own. Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17). If our whole family were physically healthy, would we see the selfish areas of our lives that need to change as clearly? Would our kids be as eager to serve and encourage one another instead of fight? Would we be praying and valuing life (our own, yours, other sick children) as highly? Would the sufferings of Jesus and the power of his resurrection be as sweet and real to us? Probably not.
From the beginning, health, wealth and prosperity have always tempted humans to forget God, to think everything is fine because our body and tangible possessions are fine. But this was always a lie. Our souls are sick, regardless of bodily health. And sometimes healthy people have the hardest time seeing this. Jesus came to heal sinners who are sick, not people who think they are healthy, righteous and don't need a doctor. God's Health, Brandi & 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.