A few weeks back, I started following a blog that goes right to my heart, and I’m not sure in the most typical way. An Atypical Miracle: Phoebe Fights AT/RT Cancer tracks the story of Phoebe Fair, a little girl who has battled an aggressive form of cancer since she was two years old, which would be most of her life at this point. I can’t say for sure that God won’t heal her in this life, but as of a few weeks ago, the plan seems to be to make her as comfortable as possible before Jesus takes her home.
I feel like in even bothering to write about this at all, I run the risk of somehow cheapening what’s going on – as if it existed for me to make some sort of point about. I apologize in advance if I end up crossing that line. My heart hurts for the whole family. Also, if you decide not to read any further, please at least consider giving to the Phoebe Fair Fund, or at least read their blog and remember them in your prayers.
The fact is, every time I think of my son Levi and try to imagine how I would feel in the Fair family’s shoes, I just can’t do it for very long. It’s too much. What keeps getting pressed into is my belief in God’s goodness. Can I think about stories like this, that put an entire family through deep pain – maybe as deep as is possible in this life – and still believe that God is ultimately good?
What’s strange is that my answer is an emphatic yes. Of course I believe! If anything, now more than ever.
This is where I feel strange and out of my element, but honestly, I think sorrow – even deep, excruciating pain – has a way of driving me closer to Jesus. I think what I’m figuring out as I get older is how full of pain life actually is, and how truly desperate I am, how much in need of constant Fathering I am. I’m not made to live apart from Jesus, and yet it’s so easy, in so many subtle ways to do it. When I read about Phoebe, it’s much harder to do that – not because I’m ashamed to compare my pain with hers, but because I feel the invitation in her story to be closer to Jesus because I can see how much he cares about her. The family’s latest post as of this writing, “Circle” includes this small glimpse:
Phoebe: “Mommy, know who slept with me last night?”
Me: “Yes, Grammy slept with you last night.”
Phoebe: “No, Jesus slept with me last night.”
Me: “Jesus slept with you?”
Phoebe: “Yes, God.”
I think this is the truth of my situation too, and someday I’ll get to go home and rest too. But for now, I get to remind myself of Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21 – “to live is Christ, to die is gain.”
I don’t know the full answer still about why things like this happen, but at least partly because of their story, I don’t think I need the question answered to be okay.
UPDATE: On October 5th, 2013 at 10:30pm, Phoebe Fair went home to be with Jesus. I find I can’t write it without tears, and my heart is still broken for her family and friends, but I do smile when I think of her laughing and playing in her true home at last.