I received an email today from a longtime friend and former colleague. Her 16-year-old daughter Esther had surgery on a badly weakened heart this week at the Cleveland Clinic. The surgery was perilous and the outcome uncertain, but Esther pulled through and she seems to be out of immediate danger. But there are great struggles—and probably more surgery—ahead.
But today, her daughter has a grin as wide as her face because she is keeping food down and there’s hope that she may have the strength to ride a bike again, something she has been unable to do since 2nd grade.
Esther was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy at the age of seven and she has lived a limited life physically. But although the muscles of her heart are diseased, Esther’s spirit is strong, encouraging, and illuminating.
Esther and her family are faithful followers of Christ, deeply spiritual as they approached this ordeal years ago, and attuned now to every lesson and every provision from the hand of the Lord. Every challenge is for growth, every personal contact an opportunity, every provision—from an ice chip to a new medicine—is a blessing of God.
The Cleveland Clinic provides a personal blog for each patient to update family and friends as often as they would like. What a wonderful use of blogging.
The posts of this personal password-protected blog show us the courage of a young person, emboldened by faith in God to confront deadly illness with purpose and confidence.
There are lessons for us, too.
1. Life is a precious and delicately balanced gift.
2. Life’s struggles have a purpose. At times the purpose may be the witness of persevering through trials, yielded to God.
3. Courage is often exhibited in small packages. We have much to learn from the courage of a young person such as Esther, finding meaning in the midst of great pain and fear. Her Mom is showing a lot of courage, too!
4. There is, of course, the gift of perspective. What problems are you facing today? Perhaps they are as serious as Esther’s. I know mine pale in comparison and that I need to be as grateful for a good night’s sleep or a new project as Esther is that she can walk down the hall and back.
We pray that God will mend Esther’s heart and give her many more years. We pray that she’ll be able to ride her bicycle, and dance and sing and celebrate a full life. And we pray that we would have her courage to see God in each detail of the day, and to lean on Him when we find it hard to stand on our own.