Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Can We "Win" During Sickness?

A junky cough, a monitor alarming, labored breathing...

I respond with my daughter's emergency medications. I do all the things I have been programmed to do before we leave for the emergency room.

In this moment, I feel like we're losing.
Sometimes, I panic for a few minutes. Sometimes, I muster out a prayer.
The situation is out of my control.
It has happened again and again.

Each time, I feel like we're losing.
Our lives are interrupted by an illness that lands Jaycee in the hospital.
It is scary and unknown. Time and time again her lungs need help during a respiratory event.
Sometimes, she needs oxygen. Other times, it is full-time bi-pap or high-flow nasal cannula. A couple of times it has led to a ventilator.

The worse the hospital stay, the more it feels like we're losing.
The more support she needs to breathe, the more it feels like we're losing.

When we're back home, it feels like we have been in a boxing match that we have barely survived. Jaycee's body shows the marks of the battle. My daughter has bruises from repeated sticks. Her skin is often broken down from tape. She is frightened from the things that were done to her in the hospital and often is hesitant of my touch once home. Sleep evades me as I try to forget about the trials of the past days and weeks, and I often have to work to keep anxiety at bay.

After the chaos is over and life settles down, I briefly feel like we've won. She's alive and back home. That's a bit of a win, but the pain that led up to the win makes it feel very insignificant.

At church recently, a guest speaker made some comments that resonated with me on the topic of spiritual winning.

That's when a thought came to mind. It was a thought that I know was from God.
You think you are losing when you are in health battles with Jaycee, but you aren't. You've always won. When it looks like your losing, you're winning. 

I was astounded by this revelation. I mulled it over and even cried thinking about it.
I had always viewed these battles as losses simply because we were in them. Sickness found its way in her body again and again. Prayer hasn't kept these sicknesses away. I have never felt like a champion. In fact, I have felt battered.

For days, I thought about this idea. You think you are losing when you are in health battles with Jaycee, but you aren't. I even consulted my brother about it. (He's smart!) I've been looking at these hospital stays and health battles all wrong. The sickness isn't the indication of a loss, and that's hard for me to believe.

Somewhere in my upbringing, I became programmed to think that sickness is mostly due to sin or open doors or some problem in our life. I equated sickness with a spiritual failure that's present somewhere, and each illness of Jaycee's made me feel defeated spiritually. If you have been going to church a number of years, you probably understand this line of thought. It grew into my subconscious, and it made me feel like I was on the losing end of this battle simply because we were in them again.

My perspective on our situation is narrow. I'm too close to it. I see my daughter hurting, and I take it personal. I want her healthy-plain and simple. When she's struggling to breathe or turning blue or crying in pain in the hospital, my view of the whole thing can only be one thing....that it's bad and God isn't close in our situation. Oh man, how I need God's perspective!

I've come to understand another option. Jaycee was born in an earthly body with crummy lungs. Period. Her illnesses related to her abnormal lung function may occur simply because we live on a planet that doesn't always give us perfection in our bodies. We aren't in Heaven after all. Therefore, her illness isn't a sign of spiritual defeat but a mere product of living here on the earth. That's not to say God can't intervene in her situation. But, it's a way of seeing her illnesses as something else besides a "spiritual attack" that makes me believe we are on the losing end of things. I had a similar revelation on Jaycee's Down syndrome years ago, but never equated it to her lung issues.

Here's what I have gathered though in the past couple of weeks. If I really believed everything in the Bible, I would be more transformed by Christ and not let these health battles wreck me for weeks. If I can keep my eyes on Jesus, then I can find peace when life is out of control. If I don't look at her illnesses as a sign of losing, then perhaps I can see that I already have victory.

When I sit around feeling defeated because I see my daughter sick again, then I guarantee I am not in a position to effectively minister to her when she needs it the most. 

I have struggled a bit to write this post out. I hope it makes sense to most of you. I suppose I could say the winning occurs in my inner dialogue, my attitude, my point of view, and my emotions. If I think we're losing, I'm going to feel defeated and powerless to do anything. If I see myself for the champ God sees me, then I can be a victor especially when my daughter is struggling to breathe.


  1. Father thank you for these moments. Thank you for this family and continue to speak to them. Give them the strength they need on this earth until we make it home to you. I know I needed so badly to read these words. Thank you for always being here to carry us through all situations. In Jesus name, Amen


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