March 16, 2008

Explainable Peace

I thought I’d throw up, right there in the exam room.

Dr. Sherri, our family’s pediatrician, palpated lymph nodes in my five-year old daughter’s neck and armpits. We’d noticed an unusual little “knot” in Abbie’s chest; Dr. Sherri had checked the bump and was now making a more thorough examination. I knew that swollen lymph nodes might indicate something as serious as leukemia. And just the thought of the possibility made me queasy.

After a few minutes, Dr. Sherri explained a benign childhood condition she believed was causing Abbie’s symptoms. “It’ll either just stay the same or maybe even go away.”

Whew. The knots in my stomach loosened.

“Still,” she went on. “I’d like to do some blood tests just to be absolutely sure.” Nausea reared its ugly head again.

Dr. Sherri turned to Abbie and said, “Honey, we need to do a little test on your blood. We want to make sure it’s red, not green. ‘Cause, if it’s green, I’ll need you to come back here and eat an onion! Do you like onions?”

Abbie grinned. And then, on the way over to the lab, she said, “Momma, I wanna see the blood come out. Don’t cover my eyes!
But it won’t really be green, will it?”

I reassured her, surprised at my nonchalant tone.

Abbie keenly observed every step of her blood draw, barely flinching even as the needle poked into her vein. She wasn’t anxious. And the next day, we received the glorious news that all the tests had come back normal; the doctor’s initial diagnosis stood.

At that point, I realized that – despite some moments of worry and even my nausea – I had not succumbed to the deep anxiety to which I’m prone. And I knew why: When we’d first found the lump, I’d emailed hundreds of people – friends and family, church members, even acquaintances – asking them to pray. One way God answered was to blunt the force of my fears so I could remain calm for Abbie’s sake. What a reminder of the power of prayer – and of the power of the God to whom we pray!

For reasons beyond our comprehension, God doesn’t always choose to prevent or heal a physical ailment – as I write, a friend is dying of cancer, and I don’t understand why God’s chosen to take her from her young daughters. But His peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7) is available in any circumstance. Ask for it. If you can’t manage that, ask others to ask for you. Then watch and listen. Beyond your expectations, peace will come.


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