Theology in the Trenches

Mary’s Miracle (Part I)
Kathleen Kjolhaug Religion Columnist
Friday, May 31, 2019
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“The beauty of the miracle is that the miracle happened even when it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to ... and I thank God for that every day!” Mary

The miracle made itself known at a point when Mary least expected. But as He knows our needs before we even ask, perhaps it wasn’t so unexpected after all. Before her heart received the gift of miracle, it was first broken. Into a million tiny shards it shattered when Abel died. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Sons don’t leave this earth before mamas and every mama knows that. It’s sort of an unspoken code in the book of life. Isn’t it? We assume we will outlive our children. However, that’s not always the case, and so it was with Mary. This is her story.

Life was good. For a while all was well with Mary. Struggles within the norm prevailed but nothing too out of the ordinary. After all, she’d married well. Her husband whom she’d selectively chosen had met Mary’s number one criteria. He was a believer.

Years later after much wear and tear within the marriage, she was left with little choice but to leave. With her children grown, she held it together the best she could by continuing to press into prayer. It came quite natural as her faith had been strong since childhood. It was a gift she could never put into words other than those spoken to her precious Lord.

Once settled into her new home, Abel, the middle child of three, came for a visit one weekend. He hadn’t been feeling well for quite some time now, but he was 19. What’s a mama to do when her son refuses to see a doctor? I’ll tell you what we do. Nothing … because we can’t make people do what they don’t want to do.

Abel left for work the following day and shortly thereafter, a phone call came that every mama dreads. Abel had decided to go visit a doctor after all, and the results were in. It didn’t look good. Mary remembered the words spoken that day. The ultimatum was clear “Get help now or you will die in four days. You have a very aggressive form of leukemia.”

This sort of news will grow up even a 19 year old. Abel chose the medical advice given that day in September and because he did, the leukemia went into remission. By November he was given two options. He could continue with chemo to stave off the advances of this disease or, he could be the recipient of a bone marrow transplant which had the potential to cure. Although the latter chances were only twenty percent, it gave hope. In two weeks he must decide.

Just shy of the two weeks, Abel relapsed. Once back in the hospital, he quickly made his decision. A transplant it would be and as Betsy, his sister, was a partial match, she would be the donor. January would be the month in which this would happen and once completed the 100 day countdown to being home free would begin. (100 days is the mile marker indicative of success.)

Take this information for what it’s worth. It tells you the back story but not necessarily the inner workings of a mama’s heart nor her swaying world laid bare upon the table of grace. Mary shared the following. “I never prayed so hard in my life! I bargained with God. I pleaded. I begged Him to not take my son but to let Him live!”

May 7th … The 100 day celebration took place.

May 8th … A follow up doctor’s visit dashed all hope. The leukemia was back.

May 17th … Abel died.

Silence. Pause. Breathe. (to be continued)

This story will be continued for the next two weeks. It is the only time I’ve ever written a column that will expand over three weeks. I pray that you, the reader, will hang with me … as it is a story worthy of it. I pray you find it a gift to be invited into Mary’s journey. She shared this in honor of all who have gone through the depths of despair and beyond. May you be blessed. Amen.

( Kathleen Kjolhaug is a religion columnist.)