When the word mass comes with a measurement of length and depth and is found in your 17 year old daughter's abdomen... well, it is an absolutely sickening, horrid word.
She had been in pain. We knew that the daily pain had been increasing... with frequency and intensity. But, you just never expect. We didn't expect it.
On January 14th, they found a mass in my daughter's upper abdomen. The ultrasound tech poked, prodded and spent an extra 20 minutes measuring and trying to discern the realities of this mass. In that beautifully new, pristine white, sterile, cold room, the doctor explained that there was a 3.6 cm x 3.5 cm x 1.5 cm mass. He showed us the sonogram---there it was, plain as day...even to an untrained eye. It needed more investigation and he scheduled a CT scan for the following day.
The next 48 hours was a wild mix of emotions.
We were in a different, foreign country. We had only arrived the day before. My husband was scheduled to speak at a 400 person conference in Asia on the topic of "Freedom".
For the past three months, as he had been preparing his lessons for the conference, it had become our family mantra, "What does freedom look like in this, Lord?" ...when my email account is failing, when my friend is in depression, when my unsaved family member is in the hospital, when I spill beetroot juice on my white sweater, when the university decisions for our kids hang in the balance, when we are grieving the upcoming launch of our girl.... In these things, small and large, what does freedom look like?
In jet-lag, in shock, in someone else's home. With this news... what did this mean? What was next? The mantra question just hung there around us, whispering into my soul.
What, Lord, does freedom look like in the midst of this?
After we sent out an email to let our prayer partners know of the mass... the email responses began to come in. Our friends, so many of our friends, were standing with us. Praying, they wrote. One after another wrote to us and told us, "We are praying!" Our family, our friends... they were praying for us. These emails were a sweet balm. As they came into our inbox, we read them together, prayed and felt the comfort of Father's kids worldwide standing in the gap. Asking. Pleading. Praying.
Our friends who live in this foreign land---they cooked for us, shuttled us to and from the hospital, prayed with us. Laughed with us. Cried for us.
Freedom looked like being the weak ones---the ones in desperate need of prayer and help. Freedom looked like the comfort of the Body of Christ. Freedom looked like unhindered asking... His kids knowing God's heart, His power and the possibilities asking on our behalf.
For those who follow this blog regularly, or know me personally, you will know I am not a big "crier". I don't cry easily. I have often said that I have plenty of tears inside, they just don't seem to make their way out of me! My crying friends (which tend to be some of my favorite people) know that I envy them. I tell my free-to-cry friends often what a gift their tears are to me. If only... If only I could cry like that!
These past months, though, something beautiful has been shifting in me. I finally asked a free-crying-friend to pray for me. I asked her to ask the Lord to give me the gift of tears. He has been answering. Slowly but surely, I am crying! ...weeping, in fact, at times. I rejoice in this health. I am still not a "crier"...and I don't anticipate that my personality will change... but, I am more free to allow the heavy, hard, tear-filled pain come and have it's way. I am finding freedom to feel. Freedom to be sad---deeply sad---I am finding freedom to cry.
What, Lord, does freedom look like in the midst of this?
So, with this horrid, terrifying news, I quietly excused myself to the guest room...and I wept. I wept freely and with faith that He was with me, He was hearing. Lament in the purest form... I poured out my heart in tears to the Lord. Pain, pain, pain... that was all the words that came with the tears. Just deep pain.
My baby girl. My darling baby girl.
Pain. Pain. Pain.
Freedom in the Lord looked like pain and tears for me that night. Freedom looked like feeling. Lament and surrender wrapped up in pain... there was deep freedom.
48 hours of deep pain... waiting, watching, feeling...
As we waited in the hospital for the next poke, the gross green-colored juice to drink, and the IV... my daughter began to sing a song. I don't remember what song it was... but it was quiet and it was worship. It was surrender. We joined her and sang. A quiet singing in the busy, bustling hospital room. Freedom looked like surrender. Freedom looked like worship.
On January 16th, the very same doctor looked at us and shook his head, shrugging his shoulders. He said he couldn't explain the discrepancy. The mass was gone. The CT scan showed a clean, pristine, beautiful abdomen. No mass. No problems. All was "healthy and good" in my girl's abdomen, he said.
It's a miracle! I said this without really thinking. It just popped out of my mouth as an exclamation. "We asked Jesus to take it away!" I told him. He just shrugged his shoulders and smiled. "There is no mass," he said.
No mass, he said. These are good, good words.
We walked away with two CDs in our hands: an ultrasound with a mass and CT scan without a mass. Walking away with a documented miracle, and deep relief, my daughter and I jumped, danced and cried in the hospital! Right there in that place, we freely expressed our joy.
Freedom looked like proclamation and witness. Freedom looked like profession of joy, praise and worship--- Dancing and crying and hugging... looking a bit "mad" I am sure to any on-looker.
As we exited the hospital, aware that we wouldn't be back anytime soon, the phrase came into my heart... He said "yes!"
He said yes...
I knew that freedom looked like receiving and rejoicing in His "yes" to our asking, our praying, our pleading. Freedom looked like knowing He sometimes says "no"... but, today, He said yes. Trusting Him for His answers. The freedom to ask and to trust His kind, His all-knowing heart...
In this... In this there is freedom.
What Lord does freedom look like in this?
...freedom looked like being exactly who I am with and in Jesus. ...Needy and weak. ...Honest and real. ...it looked like surrender and worship. Weeping. lamenting, rejoicing and laughing. ...freedom looked like asking, hoping, pleading, expecting. ...freedom looked like receiving and proclaiming. ...witnessing and trusting.
You Lord, present in the the unknown, the scary, the painful, the "no" and the "yes". You, Lord, Present in the lament, the worship and the joy... You, Lord, are our freedom.
You are freedom, Jesus. You.
It is for freedom that I am set free.... (Galatians 5:1)
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom... (2 Corinthians 3:17)