Today at church we continued our Coming Storms series. Today was Joy in the Coming Storms, Here is a to link our sermons you can listen to them all! Joy in trials and adversity... they just don't go together. Rick (our pastor) explained how they make sense. We tend to equate joy with happiness. Happiness is our feeling in response to what is happening. Joy is my CHOSEN outlook regardless of what is happening.
As I was listening to the message my mind went to Joe..... the hurdles. First, would he make it or not??? In retrospect, this made all of the other hurdles so minor. We were told "he will walk late, talk late, crawl late. All the major mile stones would be delayed. He could have cerebral palsy. He could have learning disabilities".... All we could say was, "Who cares... He is alive."
But, then came one that brought me to my knees. I remember from the very first day he was in the hospital, there was a dry-erase board that had all the testing he needed done. Head ultra-sound. Eye exam. Blood work. I saw eye exam and asked the obvious questions. I was told about Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). I was told it was not usually a problem. ROP causes the retina to detach. There are 4 stages, 1 and 2 fairly common. 3 is cause for concern and and usually surgery, 4 is blind. Very few kids every actually need surgery although many preemies have varying stages of ROP. Well little by little, Joe progressed to 3 and surgery was done. It is a cruel thing to go through when they are so small. But, we were just getting ready to take Joe home after almost 3 months in the hospital. So, we had to wait a little longer .
The doctors rechecked him after surgery and his eyes were still getting worse and they could do no more. They said Joe was going blind. With one last shot, we were referred to Riley. There we met the most wonderful Doctor. Dr Danis who gave us hope. There were 2 more options. Joy. He will probably have some sort of vision!!! I could have been really angry but, I still had that "He's alive" factor. I had joy even though he still could be blind. Joe had scleral buckles (little stitches placed around the eye, he still has one 9 years later) placed on both eyes and we had to wait to see if they were successful. I remember vividly the day we went to see if the buckles worked. Dr Danis was running way behind and Chris and I were both so nervous. The unspoken silence. Would Joe be blind??? Finally, Dr Danis came in the room and said that he was sorry that he was running late. He had just been with another family whose baby had buckles in and they were in for their check and they got bad news. Ewww.... not what I was expecting. So, he began the examination. Poor Joe had his eyes clipped open and was swaddled tight and ....Good News!!! The buckles were working for Joe.
Today Joe is basically blind in his right eye, and has poor vision in his left. With glasses he is corrected to 20/70 in left. You would never know that Joe sees poorly. He Chooses Joy. We have never tried to treat him any different and he takes a little bit longer to do things. He works hard at things he really wants to do. Joe is a perfect example of Joy to me. He could be bitter or angry because of some of the issues he faces. These are issues that we cannot control or change. Joe has had about 20 surgeries on his eyes and constant eye checks with eye drops that he hates. He hates surgery, but he does what he needs to without much complaining. Instead Joe makes a choice to be Joyful. Way to go good ol' Joe. I love you so much, you are my hero.
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.