Our youngest son will turn 10 soon. That is not so remarkable unless you know his history.
When he was born, it was a big shock. He was three months premature. He ended up spending four months in the neonatal intensive care unit and as a result of a brain bleed, developed hydrocephalus. This has led to more than 20 brain surgeries over the past 10 years.
During the past decade, there have been times when I’ve found myself on my knees pleading with my Father in Heaven on behalf of my son. The pain and anguish that a parent feels when a helpless child is suffering are terrible.
My wife and I have learned so much through these trials. Ten years later, we are different people.
We became well acquainted with the NICU after spending day after day there for four months. I know more about hydrocephalus than I ever wanted. In fact, I did not even know what hydrocephalus was 10 years ago. Now, I know that there is no cure, and the only treatment requires brain surgery where they place a shunt and drainage system to relieve the pressure. Xavier now has two shunts. If they stop working, we must immediately rush to Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Through the difficult times, we became closer as a family. We hugged all of our children a little tighter, knowing how precious life was. I’ve learned to have compassion and empathy for other parents who are dealing with medical issues that their children face. I’ve become more patient with my children, although they might not think that is the case. It’s given me perspective on what’s most important. A clean bedroom is less important compared to their well-being, happiness and our relationship.
The difficulties that we go through in this mortal journey are for our benefit, to help draw us closer to God, to rely on faith and to understand what matters most.
I recently was terribly sick with an awful stomach flu. As I slowly recovered, I was so thankful for a healthy body. Every breath we take is a gift from God.
I’ve learned to rely on God and to know that He will provide the comfort needed in our darkest hours.
I don’t know many people who have gone through exactly what we’ve gone through. I don’t know if many people can understand the desperation one feels as your child is taken into emergency brain surgery. You are helpless and alone.
Referring to Jesus Christ, the prophet Isaiah said in the Old Testament, “He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.”
As Matthew said in the New Testament, “Jesus took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.”
The Savior is the only one who knows exactly what it’s like because He has descended below us all. We can always turn to Him.
As we watch 10 birthday candles be lit this year, my heart will be full of gratitude.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to have strong family relations, for children, for life, for good health and for modern life-saving medicine.
We’ve been blessed with doctors and nurses who have worked so hard to save Xavier’s life multiple times while my wife and I have sat helplessly in the waiting room praying earnestly and hoping for good news.
I couldn’t have imagined how hard being a father would be.
There have been heart-wrenching times where I was in deep despair.
I also would have never guessed how deeply I would love my children and the joy and meaning that they would bring to my life.
It gives me a glimpse of how profoundly our Father in Heaven loves each of us.
God’s work and glory are to have his children return to Him for eternity. To make this possible, He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. If we will believe in Him and follow His commandments, we will have everlasting life.
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Bishop Jason Bringhurst is the leader of the Mount Pleasant Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Port Angeles. His email is [email protected]