Answered Prayers

 

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!

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Pray for Laie

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Counting the children of my children (including some I’ve ‘adopted’ over the years), at 58 years old I have 16 grandchildren and two great-grand children. I love them all dearly and would happily give my life to save theirs. There is only one grandchild, however, that I’ve actually been in the presence of when she came into this world on May 1, 2013: Laie Kathleen Rayne Harding. I even made a video celebrating her birth. This doesn’t by any means demonstrate that I love little Lulu (our name for Laie) any more than the others. It just means that the planets and stars all happened to align so that I’d be there when the big event happened. Lulu’s Dad and Mom – my oldest son Joey and his beautiful wife Grace Harding – were more than kind enough to allow me to be in the delivery room when she arrived kicking and screaming. I’ll remember that moment for the rest of my life.

A couple of months ago Lulu began complaining of abdominal pain and losing both her appetite and weight, but it wasn’t until the day after her big brother’s birthday party (Kyler) on September 24th when she was taken to the ER (for the third time in a month) and given a CT scan, where it was discovered she had a significant mass in her belly. Lulu was immediately admitted to the Children’s of Alabama hospital in Birmingham so more testing could be done. On Monday a surgeon performed a biopsy of some of the tumors in her abdomen, and bone marrow samples were taken from her hip bones. On Tuesday she was given a total body bone scan. The next day (the 28th of September) we were told that Laie had Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a very aggressive cancer that primarily targets young children. In the lymph nodes of her abdomen Lulu had a number of tumors like a cluster of grapes, and it was also in her bone marrow. This grim news knocked us all to our knees. The doctor told us that Neuroblastoma is the second most frequent cancer in children, and is definitely treatable. I could barely hear the doctor as he spoke to us about the plan he had to defeat Lulu’s cancer. My mind went numb with shock as I looked at the angry red areas on her body scan. Stage 4! There are no stages beyond that. Both Joey and Grace’s faces reflected the devastation I felt. When the doctor left we wept, completely blown away by the realization that Lulu’s precious life hung in the balance. It was the very beginning of what has become a long and rocky road.

Our little Lulu has to undergo 5 rounds of chemotherapy, along with radiation and immunotherapy. She was given a blood transfusion immediately in the hopes it would improve her immune system and boost her energy. We were told Lulu will have more transfusions, as well as bone marrow transplants. It will be a difficult and dangerous journey, but the doctors have assured us she has a good chance of recovering. Then another test revealed that Lulu also has a tumor in the membrane between her brain and skull, and more tumors in her legs. As they began administering Lulu’s first round of chemo (five days of two doses per day) the bitter news began to sink in. However, a more significant remedy had begun from Day One. It defies science and flies in the face of modern medicine. From the moment Lulu became ill, people began to pray.

The great Charles Spurgeon once wrote “Intercessory prayer is an act of communion with Christ, for Jesus pleads for the sons of men.” When we began asking for people to pray for Laie, a groundswell of soulful supplications began to spread around the world. Social media sent our request to friends, and they in turn shared this with their friends, who also passed it along. Churches added Lulu’s name to their prayer lists, prayer chains were formed, and thousands upon thousands of people fell to their knees asking that she be healed. There is nothing in this world – Nothing! – more powerful than a fervent prayer. Jesus said “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) It just doesn’t get any more clear than that, my friend.

In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he said “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” He wrote that we should not be anxious about anything. Imagine how difficult this is for the parent of a child with cancer! I can tell you right now, as Laie’s grandfather, that it would be absolutely impossible for me to lay aside my worry, were it not for my deep seated faith in Jesus. It is faith that unlocks the key to the presence and power of the Lord. Faith-driven prayer is like a pleasing incense to God, an aroma that unlocks His eternal and abiding love in your heart.

Let’s read the words of Luke chapter 18: 1-8 “1And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2He said, In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. 3And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ 4For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” 6And the Lord said, Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” I beg of you, dear reader, if you find it in your heart to pray for Laie, please, please pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), pray that she might be healed, because prayer has great power (James 5:16), believe Him when He says He hears your prayers (Jeremiah 29:12) and have faith in the knowledge that God will heal her (Matthew 21:22).

Even if you can’t seem to put the words together, the Lord will hear you. In Romans 8:26-27, it is written “26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

My friend, whether you are a Christian or not, I plead for your prayers. Ask God to heal Lulu, to remove this cancer from her body, to return her to complete health. His glory will be magnified in the miracle of Laie’s cure. Pray that her doctors do all they can with the wisdom and skills given to them. Pray for Laie.

Pray for Laie.

Pray for Laie.

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