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  • Katie Smith

Overcome With Pain

When you get to a certain age, you are suppose to draft a living will..... I think? Those desires you have for the "worst-case scenarios." Well, my husband and I finally made one when we left our kids one time last year for two days. But I was recently asked about the moral dilemma in choosing those same desires for your kids. There aren't any good guidelines on how to sign consent for worst-case scenarios in babies.

This past week we watched our dear friends grapple with one of the hardest parts of life: childhood cancer. As their two-year old son was diagnosed with a rare cancer, their world spun and crashed against the heavy burden of signing medical paperwork, which lists all the worst outcomes for "necessary procedures."

It reminded me of all those sweet chemo kids I saw during my hospital stints over the last seven years and all the decisions we made for Levi when he couldn't make his own.

Seven and a half years ago I wrote these words about Levi:

Today was a tough day. Levi didn't do so well off the ventilator, so they are having to re-intubate him as I type. I happen to be there right after he was extubated, and I had to hold back emotion while watching him "forget to breathe" for fear that they would ask me to leave.

My heart ached thinking about all that we are asking Levi to do at an age where he is not suppose to be able to accomplish such tasks. I thought for a moment how hard and broken this world is, and maybe Levi just wanted to rest in peace and not join it, and I would completely understand if that was God's will. These are the true confessions of a mother who has not yet welcomed her baby into her world.

It's quite easy to say you will fight and do anything to keep your children alive and well, but what if they are suffering, and there's nothing you can do to stop it, unless you add more suffering? What is the right answer for painstaking procedures?

Levi has had to deal with another painful experience because of his Perthes disease: drilling into his muscle and bone in order to place a steel bracket and four screws in his hip. The amount of pain, screaming, and tear-shedding this past week has been like watching my son give birth without any meds. I no longer get to throw out that comparison as a barometer for being tougher than my kids.

I don't know when the pain will stop, but I know that God has seen us through before, and He is eternally faithful. Without God, I am truly lost. My will or my desire, is not always best. I've seen that first-hand. There's only God's perfect will. Nothing else gives me the correct lens to guide me through horrific sorrows of life. Nothing else will ease the sting of pain except trusting by faith that He knows more about the future than I can comprehend. If my goal is not MY will, but HIS, then a strange and foreign peace will carry me through the unbearable and give me the wisdom needed to take steps towards another day.

Roman 8:18-27 guided me then, as it does now. As did most of Psalms, 1 Peter, Corinthians 1 and 2, Ecclesiastes, Ephesians, and so many more books written for all life's occasions. I learned to cling to Truth instead of my temporary band-aids. I decidedly hid His word in my aching heart, and it actually repaired it through the trials when I didn't even know it was broken. It took pain for me to see my need for open-heart surgery. Now I can claim Psalm 112:7-8 as my own: "[I] will have no fear of bad news; [my] heart is steadfast trusting in the Lord. [My] heart is secure, [I] will have no fear, in the end [I] will look in triumph on [my] foes."

While I still have much to learn and grow through, by God's grace I've changed since the last hospital stay, and He's given me a different response to this new challenge. Before Levi's surgery this weekend, our dear friends' hard journey with ugly cancer was just beginning. In God's design we were one floor apart, praying for each other's little boys.

Pray with us for peace, pray for healing, pray for wisdom, pray for stamina, pray for soft hearts to hear God's comfort, and pray that we all let go of those little ones we hold dear and entrust them to a perfect God who holds them closer. Then we can remain steadfast through the pain.

In this world you will have pain and trouble, but take heart- Jesus OVERCAME the world. (John 16:33). It blesses us when we learn to overcome our pain with Him.

~overcoming carefully and carelessly

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