I stood in the pediatric ICU at UCLA hospital at the bedside of a two-year-old boy who lay there entwined in cords linked to what seemed like science fiction machines. His eyes were closed and his breathing labored. He was so small…so helpless. I loved this boy and I loved his mother who stood opposite me across the bed. Ryan had undergone a bone marrow transplant to fight the sickle cell disease that had begun to ravage his tiny body.
Juli, Titus and their children were in the US from Kenya. This bone marrow procedure for Ryan and his brother was known to be life-threatening, but it was also their only hope. They were all walking a journey of such weight that it’s hard to imagine how they were making it. Ryan had seemed to be managing the process when his organs began to shut down and he was rushed to ICU. It did not look hopeful.
And now here I stood with tears in my eyes and deep pain in my heart, listening to the foreign sounding hums and beeps around me, looking from this precious little boy to his weary, frightened momma. God have mercy. God please intervene.
As the nurse adjusted the countless wires hooked up to Ryan, Juli spoke softly to him, holding him in a sitting position. Ryan’s eyes opened dully as she spoke to him. His eyes seemed to focus on something and he reached out weakly. Sitting on a table at the foot of his bed was a plastic dump truck. As Juli held him, I picked up the truck and placed it on the bed in front of Ryan. He smiled. I should say, HE SMILED! I put one ball into the truck. He reached his little hand out and I gave him a ball. He placed it in the truck. It seemed that Juli and I were holding our breath. This little boy literally seemed to have come back to life. We traded places so Juli could be in front of him and talk to him. I held his frail little body in my hands and wanted to both weep and dance. It was a moment in time where hope seeped back into the room, where the scent of joy overrode the antiseptic atmosphere. Ryan was here. Ryan was alive. It was as though God opened His hands of great mercy and allowed Juli this window into possibilities…
Ryan tired quickly and we laid him down but the atmosphere in the room had changed. The colorful little truck was a symbol of promise…of what could be. There were still long days ahead with frightening setbacks and complications. But for about five minutes, in PICU at UCLA Children’s hospital, grace filled a room so acutely that a mom, her son and a friend inhaled a fresh breath of life.
As it is in every single life, there were no guarantees that Ryan would get better…that he would live. Juli told me countless times that she knew this might not end well. But Juli and Titus believe God is good whatever the outcome. That sounds ridiculous to some people, I know, but it’s a reality for many. Hope is in the goodness of God, not in our perfect outcome. Life happens. Oy vey. It just keeps happening.
Today, if you are in challenging or even what you consider hopeless circumstances, I encourage you to pause and consider the idea that God is. God is. He is good, He is powerful, He is compassionate, He is wisdom, He is love, He cares more for you than you can imagine. He is. Ask God to give you an experience of hope today…a window into who He is and what He can do. It may be as profound as a little boy coming to life or as simple as a plastic dump truck. There is no good reason for you to navigate the overwhelming challenges of this life on your own. God is.
NOTE: The full story of Ryan, Geoffrey, Sharon and their journey to the US and through the bone marrow transplant is stunningly shared in Juli’s book From Beyond the Skies that is available September 28, 2021 thru Amazon. I have read it twice and will read it again. You can also visit frombeyondtheskies.com for information.
Lamentations 3:19-24 The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. 20 I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. 21 Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: 22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
Psalm 62:5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.
Psalm 130:5 I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word.
Psalm 42:5-6a Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and 6 my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you—
Psalm 146:5-6 But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. 6 He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Psalm 33:18-19 Watch this: God’s eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love. He’s ready to come to their rescue in bad times; in lean times he keeps body and soul together.
Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 11:1 Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.
Romans 12:12-13 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
1 Corinthians 15:19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.