In July of 2007, I took a ferry from Seattle across the water to Bainbridge Island, and drove to the beach where I met one of my best friends, Carin, and her 2-year old son Ben. We walked along the water, and threw rocks into the waves, and looked for little sand crabs, and ate grapes and crackers, and soaked up the glorious summer sunshine. Ben was running, and climbing, and laughing. It was a perfect day.
Looking back on that afternoon, our ignorance is obvious – blatantly flashing like a neon sign, humming with a warning we could not hear – as no one could have ever expected what was to come. For a few short weeks later, Ben was diagnosed with an aggressive, high-risk form of cancer called neuroblastoma. And since that day, Ben and his family have walked through nothing short of hell on earth.
While thousands have prayed, Ben has endured surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplants, oral drugs, experimental antibodies – not to mention excruciating pain, vomiting, and the side effects of atrociously harsh narcotics. Jeff and Carin have watched their baby writhe in pain, with no power to do anything about it, or to explain to him “why.” They have continually trusted their son’s safety, health, and comfort to the doctors and nurses – all the while living in fear of what the final outcome might be.
Last night brought some unspeakably heartbreaking news. Ben has four new tumors – three on his brain, and one on his liver. Despite every effort over the past 14 months, the cancer is spreading.
News like this is like… a fistful of broken glass. A fish-hook in the side. An anvil on the chest. And it takes me to a very raw and ugly place – one in which I doubt prayer, and I doubt God. It’s not fair. It’s just not fair. He’s just a little boy – barely 3-years old. He should be trick-or-treating tonight. I cannot stand it. Is there anything worse – anything more senseless – than the suffering of a child?
When Ben was baptized as an infant, his mom, beautiful Carin, stood in front of our church congregation and read the scripture that they were claiming for his life: “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Who knew that Ben would actually be faced with all of these things within the first 3 years of his life. Now I am clinging to the promise that none of these horrors can separate him from the love of God… but where is this love?
I know I’ve asked for this before, but please join me in praying for Ben, his parents Jeff and Carin, and his little brother Ryan.