I’ve had, by my best estimation, about 14 surgeries over the course of my life. *1* Mostly due to my hips and feet, which have each been worked on more than a couple of times. I had my first hip surgery before my first birthday; my first foot surgery before my sixth. I came down with appendicitis when I was 13, which was, unfortunately, just a few years before they learned to do that procedure without cutting your stomach open. Throw in an errant needle which broke off in my toe and needed to be replaced, and a broken hand from playing football, and I’d been cut open quite a few times before my 22nd birthday. I had a lot of toys growing up, and I’ll concede that I probably was a little spoiled, but I’d also bet that half the things I had as a kid were given to me in a hospital. *2*
Not that I’m complaining.
I wasn’t really allowed to complain, even if I’d wanted to. My mom and I lived with my grandparents when I was young, and the last thing my grandfather intended to let me do was feel sorry for myself. Even without him though, I don’t think I’d have complained too much. Many times while I was in the hospital, I shared a room with another child who had undergone far worse than me. I once shared a room with a little boy who’d had a club foot repaired. If you aren’t familiar with the problem, club foot is when develops the wrong way. To fix it, the doctors have to break every bone, and cut every tendon in the foot, turn the foot around, and then pin the whole thing into place. I had one pin sticking out of the side of my foot; this little boy had dozens. Sadly, that wasn’t the worst thing we saw while I was hospitalized. I’m a little foggy on the details, (because I was young and had just come out of surgery), but once I shared a room with a teenage boy who was dying of cancer. At one point, even though I had only recently returned from surgery, the nurses asked my mom if she could push me around the hall for awhile, so the parents could say goodbye to their boy. Again, I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure my mom cried that afternoon, and in thinking it over, it was probably good for my mom to be reminded about how good we really had it. *3*
I’d had my fifth and final round of foot surgeries a year or two before I met Donnette, and despite the fact that hospitals defined so much of my childhood, I’ve actually never had a single surgery since we’ve been together. *4* She’s actually been pretty healthy too; shortly after we were married she had to have a minor surgery, but other than that our only stays at the hospital have been in the maternity ward. *5*
I’ve been thinking about this lately, because a missionary couple our church supports just learned that their daughter, only slightly older than Oliver, has cancer of the liver. They live in Prague, and while that’s a European city it’s not one where English is the native language, and I can only imagine the sort of stress this is causing them. I’ve been reading their updates, and I’m truly amazed at their faith and courage in this difficult time. *6* I don’t know if I would handle this as well if it were me. Doctors can be hard to understand when they speak the same language as you, much less when you’re speaking through a translator. I don’t know what the medical care is like in the Czech Republic, chances are it’s as good there as it is here. Depending on your political point of view, medical care in France is either way better, or way worse, but it’s certainly better there than it is where some missionaries serve. Still, it would take a massive amount of fortitude to not put our family back on a plane and ship them home, some place safe and dependable and less faith-requiring than the mission field.
I’m speaking solely for myself here. I don’t really know the Hunt’s that well, and I don’t want to put my doubts onto their lips; these are my thoughts alone. With that said, I’ll confess that as I’ve read their blog, and others like it from people in ministry who are going through this sort of thing, that I think we should some how be immune to these sorts of trials. That, because I’m willing to leave my friends and family behind, and go suffer for Jesus in the south of France, I won’t be faced with sick kids, or a sick wife, and as for me, well, I’m practically invincible. I know this is completely unbiblical, *7* but that doesn’t stop me from thinking this way all the same.
Which is ridiculous. These sorts of things happen, to missionaries, to everyone else. God doesn’t promise to keep us from all troubles, rather, he promises to attend to us when they do. Right now, I have one healthy child lying on the floor nearby, and another sound asleep in his crib, and I should be grateful for that.
We appreciate your prayers, but this week, please keep the Hunt’s in them as well.
*1* This number may be a bit high, but as I count scars, I’m pretty sure it’s correct.
*2* I remember being in the recovery room from one round of hip surgery and my mom bringing me the last lion I needed to assemble Voltron. In my mind the pain was totally worth it.
*3* It feels a little weird to speak of another person’s sanctification, especially when it comes at such a high cost, and I only mention it because, well, you can’t complain as a parent or a patient when you see another family go through something like that.
*4* The closest I’ve come was developing a weird boil under my arm while we were dating. I didn’t have insurance at the time, and so put off going to the emergency room much longer than I should have. I toughed it out until the thing finally burst, spewing what I can only describe as the stench of death out of my body for two plus days. I still wasn’t going to go to the hospital, and it was only at the insistence of my work that I finally went. For all of the medical advances of the 20th century, the Dr. used a little pain scale with various faces on it to diagnose my condition. Because my slightly uncomfortable face turned into a open mouthed screamy face when she touched it, I was given a shot of antibiotic (and tetanus for good measure) and a $400 bill.
*5* Had a joke here, deleted it. For the sake of my marriage.
*6* To not over or under dramatize, the cancer was caught early, and with surgery and chemo the survival rate for this type of cancer is over 90%. Which is good news, but still.
*7* Unless you think that Job’s friends were giving him good advice.