July 10, 1984. A pivotal day in my life, as our third child was born, the first boy in two generations for my family. I rejoiced in the birth of our son, who at the time we believed to be a healthy baby.
Shortly after bringing David home from the hospital, we began noticing some things that concerned us as his parents. First, he was extremely sensitive to sunlight. Then, one by one we noticed he was not meeting the early developmental guidelines typical for a newborn. He was also very irritable, causing us to think he was in pain.
We had recently moved to Houston and were currently staying with my mother-in-law until Mitch could find a job and we could afford a place of our own. Mom shared our concerns about David and suggested we make an appointment with a local pediatrician.
I called and scheduled an appointment, and since my husband was in Jacksonville, Texas, packing up the rest of our things to bring to Houston, Mom and I went on what we thought would be a routine pediatrician’s appointment. It was anything but.
Where we had been concerned that something wasn’t quite right, we were shocked at the pediatrician’s decision to immediately admit David to Texas Children’s Hospital for testing. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were embarking on the most difficult journey of our lives.
Our life as a married couple hadn’t been easy before this. In November, 1975, on a trip to Fort Worth, Texas to pick up some supplies for Mitch’s boss and visit some dear friends, our vehicle was hit by a man who lost control of his vehicle, crossed two lanes and hit us head on. As a result, our eighteen month old first-born child, Teresa, was killed, and I was hurt so badly that doctors told Mitch I would probably never walk again. The doctors were wrong, but we were now well acquainted with sorrow and suffering.
Shortly after being admitted to the hospital, David was seen by a neurologist who ordered an EEG and several other tests. The EEG showed a brain pattern indicative of massive infantile spasms, a rare but devastating seizure condition that affects only infants. Later the same day, David had his first seizure which lasted almost an hour. If he had not already been in the hospital to immediately begin treatment, David probably would not have survived. This was the first of several cluster seizures per day, typical of this diagnosis.
We had visited a new church the Sunday before all of this happened, one some friends of our attended, and immediately felt at home. So soon after David’s diagnosis, we called our new pastor to tell him what was going on. He made arrangements with the elders of our church, and they all came to the hospital to anoint David with oil and pray for his healing, according to the promise of James 5:
“Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.” (James 5:14-15 NASB)
When the elders began praying, David went into another cluster seizure. They continued praying, and the seizure stopped. David never had another cluster seizure. But unfortunately, the damage had already been done. We didn’t know it at the time, but massive infantile spasms cause brain damage and mental retardation.
When God intervened in David’s life and supernaturally stopped his massive infantile spasms, we had faith that he would be totally healed. When this didn’t happen, my faith was shaken. In anger, I told God if this was how He was going to act I was tired of letting Him be in charge of my life.
Scripture says the goodness of God leads to repentance. What happened next didn’t feel like the goodness of God at the time, but looking back many years later I recognize it was. God simply withdrew any sense of His presence. Now, I was facing life as the mother of a severely handicapped child in my own strength, and it wasn’t a pretty picture. It only took me a few days to recognize that I couldn’t go on like this, and I came back to God in repentance.
When God Doesn’t Do What We Are Expecting
Living victoriously with chronic illness requires an even if kind of faith. Whether the one suffering with chronic illness is a family member or yourself, even if faith is an essential.