This post is the tenth in a year-long series ... Through this series of posts I plan to share our family's experiences during our 17-year-old daughter's year-long battle with brain cancer, which began in February of 2008. My desire is to process through the events of that year from the perspective that a decade of time has brought ... for myself, really. But if you'd like to follow along, you're welcome to join me.
February 23, 2008
Hannah was a young woman who took her faith seriously. From the time she got down on her knees in our living room and asked Jesus into her heart as an 8-year-old child, she had a sincere desire to serve God. In August of 2006, she wrote this (if you use your imagination, maybe you can picture the little hearts with which she dotted all her "i"'s ...):
"I pray that I won't hide my light under a bowl but for the world to see. Lord, break my heart for my friends and let me share this joy that I'm feeling and not keep it hidden for it is not your intention for us to keep quiet, but to share the gospel. Prepare me, Father, and give me a passionate concern for the lost."
Now, she wasn't perfect. She struggled with the same issues and temptations common to all teenagers. She made her share of mistakes, but her heart was always turned toward the Lord.
About a month before her headaches began, Hannah attended a youth retreat at our church called Disciple Now. A special speaker was brought in for the weekend, and one evening he talked to the kids about how God sometimes uses storms in our lives to mature us, and to give us an opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ to those around us. As he talked, she began to realize that she had never experienced a real storm in her life, and when she prayed that night, she asked God to send her a storm, so that through it, she could glorify God and bring others to Him. The next morning, she posted on her Facebook page: "This world has nothing for me ... I will live for Him."
Now, we knew nothing of this prayer at the time. What teenager shares something like that with their parents?
But on the night of February 22nd, with serious brain surgery looming in the near future, Hannah shared this story with her dad, telling him that she believed this was her storm. He shared it with me when I arrived at the hospital the next morning, and I was blown away by the faith and strength of our 16-year-old daughter. I still am.
Do we believe that God gave our daughter a brain tumor in answer to her prayer for a storm? No.
But we do believe He knew what was to come in her life, and He was preparing her for the day she would hear that news. From the very beginning, she accepted this situation as her storm, and never once did she question His hand in her life. At least not that we knew ... We were not privy to the conversations she may have had with God when she laid her head on her pillow each night. What I do know is that He gave her a special grace ... a supernatural grace even ... which allowed her to shoulder this burden in manner that astounded those who watched her.