By Debbie Shannon
Today’s Gospel for January 16 in Ordinary Time (Mark 1:29-39) strikes a special chord for me. It tells the story of Jesus’ healing of Simon Peter and Andrew’s mother who ‘lay sick with a fever.’ Scripture says her sons “…immediately told Him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.”
We all know people, maybe family members or close friends, who are suffering from sicknesses that we have immediately taken to Jesus in prayer. Upon hearing a diagnosis of a serious or potentially terminal illness, most of us feel lost as to how to help our loved one. The one thing we do know to do, and usually assure our sick friend of, is our prayers. We know that we can take their need to the great Healer, Jesus. Sometimes, God provides a way for us to ‘be a help’ as well.
Just over two years ago, my family was devastated by the diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia in my granddaughter – at just 4 months of age. Living states apart, the only thing I could do initially, when my daughter called with the horrible news, was lift little Clara in prayer. Of course, as soon as possible, I got on a plane and headed to be with them at the hospital. We almost lost her in the first days of cancer treatment. I visited regularly over the next months to be by their side as Clara endured multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, another scare that almost took her from us, and ultimately a bone marrow transplant. We were so grateful to be at Lucille Packard Hospital at Stanford University – one of the foremost facilities for treating Clara’s type of cancer, but I knew that ultimately, it was GOD that would get us through it all.
Quite honestly, I was also very worried about my daughter and her husband. Something like this ‘tests’ your faith. I remember my daughter sharing with me how she now understood why some people question that God can really be good, yet allow an innocent young child to come into the world only to suffer and die.
That comment and it’s parallel to Jesus’ life and purpose was not lost on me. I began to pray even more earnestly that my daughter would still see God in Clara’s situation and in Clara herself, and that she would know that He loved her and had only the best of intentions for all of them. I wanted her to know that it was cancer, not God, that was causing her suffering. I feared for my daughter’s faith as much as I feared for my granddaughter’s life. I began to pray earnestly for BOTH of them, and asked God to somehow show my daughter where He was in all this.
Clara had no siblings at that time and since the only hope for her survival was a bone marrow transplant, she would need a complete stranger to donate stem cells. They would need to be a very good match – a ‘perfect’ match. She needed a miracle.
I would like to share a video that Clara’s mother, my daughter Brooke, created as a ‘birthday gift’ to the young college student who ‘saved Clara’s life.’ Clara today is a healthy, intelligent and infectiously happy 2 1/2 year old. She has a very special ‘hero’ named John, a fellow Catholic who, through the “Be a Match” marrow donor program, was matched to Clara.
As for my daughter’s faith, I will also never forget the conversation I had with Brooke after they were finally able to learn the identity of Clara’s donor. She had been participating in a bible study on Love and her bible translation often used the word ‘charity’. She said she realized that even in the dark days and weeks and months that she could not ‘see’ God, He had been there all along. She recognizes Him now in the selfless act of charity that a young man offered her daughter that saved her life.
NOTE: “MAZE” – an illusionist show benefiting the Be the Match donor program – will be held January 26th at 7pm at the Waco Convention Center Brazos Room. Admission is free for college students.
Like Clara, Illusionist Jim Munroe had a stem cell transplant from a stranger that saved his life. Jim was living his life a Christian, but would be the first to say that God wasn’t always first in his life. Coming home on a flight one night, he recognized something was terribly wrong and his wife drove him straight to the hospital on his arrival to DFW. It was leukemia, and after months of chemo and many prayers, Jim started a new life, with new blood going through him. He now uses his time addressing students on and off campus…showing them that things aren’t always as they seem, and having faith and trust to believe in things you can’t always understand. Jim has met his life-changing stranger – a college student – and has created 10 more donor/patient transplants because of his work.
Jim will visit the Baylor campus from 1-3 pm the day of the event to promote the show and give information about participating in “Be the Match.”
For more information: http://miraclematchmarathon.net/events/illusionist/