Sometimes answered prayers come in the most beautiful ways.
Such was the case with our constant cry to God to remove the cancer eating away at our little Lulu. It’s hard if not impossible for a parent to understand why their child has to suffer the outrage and daily terror of Neuroblastoma, a fast-growing and deadly cancer that targets young children under the age of 6. Beyond the unanswered and unsatisfactory plea of ‘Why?’ is the inevitable bargain: “Lord, I’ll take on my child’s cancer. Please remove it from her body and put it in mine. I deserve it far more than she does.” For every cancer-ridden child there are those who beseech the Lord to negotiate a trade. In the end, though, comes the simple prayer: “God, take it away. You have the power to do it, Lord. Eliminate all traces of this cancer. You will be glorified, Heavenly Father. I place all my hope and faith in your hands. Lord, just a touch from you can eradicate the evil disease altogether. Heal her, God, I beg you.” When you pray from a position of spiritual poverty, when you surrender all of your will to Him, when you stretch your spirit to the limit, when you drown in your tears, wonderful things can happen.
In the late afternoon of October 12th, 2016, at the Children’s of Alabama hospital in Birmingham, my precious 3 year old granddaughter Laie “Lulu” Harding was in her bed watching the movie Airbud for the 348th time. Her beautiful blonde hair was gone except for a ring around her head like some golden princess crown. A feeding tube sprouted from her nose and an IV was placed in a central line in her little chest. Her fantastically strong (and 4 months pregnant) Mom Grace Harding sat beside her in an uncomfortable recliner, and I rested in the back of the room with my nose stuck in my phone. There was a knock on the door, and it was a young lady by the name of Katie, pushing a cart of art supplies and dressed in a smock that had seen and recorded pretty much every color imaginable. She asked Lulu if she would be interested in doing some painting, and Lulu perked up and said yes.
We followed Katie just a little way to the end of the hall to a good sized area by the hospital’s giant windows, where we could see a good portion of the city – especially McDonalds, home of Lulu’s all-time favorite: chicken nuggests with rance sauce. Katie laid a large sheet onto the carpet just as another little girl and her grandmother joined us. It was obvious that the little girl had lost her hair to chemo and was now beginning to sprout new hair. As the girls sat upon the sheet and were given blank canvases, paints and brushes, we began to exchange pleasantries. The little girl next to Lulu was named Juju, and was just one year older. Juju’s grandmother’s name was Barbara Smith, but she was called Mawmaw.
Mawmaw told us that Juju had also been diagnosed with Neuroblastoma Stage Four when she was just 3 years old. Not only was the cancer in her abdomen and bones, just like Lulu, but was in her neck and chest as well. It was startling to both Gracie and I that this little girl, full of life and vigor, had contracted the same cancer in most of the exact same places. It was even more startling to hear that when the doctors conducted a follow up body scan after Juju’s second round of chemo, it revealed the cancer had completely disappeared everywhere except for the tumors in her abdomen, and those had been greatly reduced in size!
Tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to Juju’s story, and I saw that it was affecting Gracie the same. Here was flesh and blood proof that the cancer can be eradicated! Mawmaw told us the most important instrument to Juju’s recovery wasn’t chemo or any of the other physical steps taken to get rid of her cancer – it was prayer. Pure and simple. She told us through our tears of all those who had prayed for Juju from Day One, and someone had even started a Prayers For Juju Facebook page (just like our own Prayers For Lulu page!). It suddenly occured to me – and I immediately shared it with the two women – that Juju’s miraculous story was an answer to our prayers! How many times had we prayed for God to reveal His will to us, to give us hope on top of our faith! Seeing Juju sitting next to Lulu and hearing that she was in remission was a direct revelation, a validation of His will, and the hope beyond hope that we had been searching for.
Both Grace and I began peppering Mawmaw with questions, and she answered them all. We began to realize that the things we were going through were the exact things Juju had experienced. At one point, as we were talking about the possibility of Lulu having to undergo surgery to have her abdominal tumors removed, Mawmaw had Juju stand up and show us all the long scar on her tummy from her surgery. I watched Lulu carefully and saw that she was soaking all this in as well. She may not completely understand what is going on, but I think during that art session she was beginning to realize she was not alone.
James 5:16 states: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Let me testify to you of the absolute truth and power of this particular verse. Fervent prayer brings results! When you fall to your knees, when you raise you face to the heavens, when you whisper your words to the Lord, you are doing more in the name of LOVE than all the drugs, all the treatments, all the surgeries, all the methods used by modern science. Your prayers are a sweet incense to God. When you lift up your voice in intercessory prayer for another, you are imitating the very essence of Christ, who intercedes for you constantly, and who gave up his own life so that you might have life eternal. “Pray one for another, that you may be healed”. Read those words carefully. Pray for each other so that YOU may be healed! Pray for the healing of others and you will be healed. Do you suppose Jesus is thinking of Himself when He prays for you? No! So should your heart be purified by unselfish faith and prayer. When you pray for another, you place complete hope in the hands of the Great Physician. Remember: faith is not believing that He can, it is knowing that He will. Prayer can clear a doctor’s mind, may give him insight he might not otherwise have. Prayer can steady a surgeon’s hand. Prayer can direct medicine where it is needed most. Prayer can sooth a mother’s heart, reduce pain, bind wounds, remove cancer, bring about complete health!
God brought Juju and Mawmaw into our lives at the exact moment we needed it the most. Prayer led Juju to remission, and it will lead Lulu to remission also. So, dear reader, I entreat you, I ask you, I beg you to pray for Lulu, for Juju, for all the children who suffer from cancer, for all those who suffer, for all who are lost, for all who cry out to the Lord, for all who pray for you and others. Pray for each other. You will find healing. Pray!
About jaytharding Christian Mystic-in-training, burgeoning Apologist, Writer, Poet, Philosopher, all-purpose curmudgeon
I am part of the load
not rightly balanced.
I drop off in the grass,
like the old Cave-sleepers, to browse
wherever I fall.
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