Monday, August 27, 2012

Much to Celebrate

On Saturday, Matt and I attended a beautiful wedding of the son of our former Sunday School teacher.  It is always a glorious thing to attend a wedding. In my opinion, there aren't many celebrations in life more wonderful than weddings. Two lives joining as one is a pretty big deal. But this wedding was even more special due to an extra cause of celebration.

The groom, who was in the same youth group at church with our daughter, has had a rather extraordinary life. He has spent the better part of his young years battling health issues--serious ones.  In fact, he has had two liver transplants, the second of which was only a few years ago.  He has dealt with health problems related to both surgeries quite consistently for most of his life (liver rejection, etc.). In spite of all that, this amazing young man has always kept a strong faith in God, a positive attitude, a great sense of humor, and a heart filled with greater concern for others than he has ever had for himself.

When our daughter was in the youth group at church, Matt and I went on the youth ski trip to Loveland, CO as parent chaperones and group leaders. This young man was on that particular ski trip and began having some problems with his liver-related health issues. It became a little scary at one point. He was really sick and looked so very ill that for a while we were concerned about whether he would need to be taken home immediately or maybe even to a hospital first.  During this situation, when one would expect a youngster to not be in the best spirits or mindset, Matt and I observed this young man exhibiting concern for others though he was the one who needed the concern (he didn't want to trouble anyone by ruining or interrupting the ski trip due to his illness, and he displayed numerous other instances of selfless concern for others in the days that followed, even though it was clear he still didn't feel that well).  Thankfully, he improved enough with medication that he was able to stay on the trip.  But we saw him put his own feelings and personal needs to the side as he ever so naturally embraced a humorous, joyful heart that week.  He is a strong, enduring, persevering young man, and I was extremely impressed with him--have been ever since.  I've never forgotten his amazing spirit. 

Just a few years ago, upon waiting for a liver to become available for his second transplant, I dropped a care package off at his house.  We knew things were not looking good for him and our church had been praying devoutly and earnestly for his healing and/or for a liver to become available (which is an awkward thing for which to pray--you're essentially praying for another person's demise and another family's loss.  It seems like a really horrible and selfish prayer request, but it is a necessary one.  When you know and love someone who needs an organ, what choice do you have?).  He answered the door looking so sickly--I really wasn't prepared for it.  It tore me up to see him in that bad of shape, especially as such a vital young man who should be living his life to the fullest with much less burden to bear.  But by his spirit, you would have thought he was in perfect health.  He was so joyful, kind, positive, and grateful.  I was awestruck yet again.  I went there to minister to him and hopefully give a little love and encouragement to him to let him know we were thinking of him and praying, and I was the one who left blessed.  He even went so far as to sincerely ask me about my daughter, Allie, and how she was doing at college (yet he was barely able to stand or answer the door, and in the middle of a severe, serious fight for his own life).  Amazing kid.

I recall bawling the entire way home and pleading with God to please provide a liver for him.  This young man is the only child of his wonderful parents, and having an only child myself made me even more empathetic to their family's situation, and just how very special and important "only children" are in the eyes of their parents.  I prayed, "God, this young man loves You, he loves his family, and he is an amazing witness for You.  He doesn't deserve to go through this at this age, and yet he has the most grateful, kind, caring heart.  You HAVE to keep him here.  He is invaluable to his parents.  He is invaluable to your cause."  God answered that prayer (and that of hundreds of others who love this kid) when He provided a liver very soon afterward.  I've never forgotten the way this young man looked that day I wept and prayed for him in my car.  To see him looking so healthy and happy Saturday, and relishing every moment of his "big day" were blessings of enormous proportion.

So it was a great honor and thrill to attend the wedding of this wonderful, Godly, precious young man.  He has been through more in his young life than most people go through in their entire lives.  It was immensely uplifting to witness him marry another wonderful, Godly person in purity and utter joy (I don't think I've ever seen a groom beam quite like he did upon seeing his bride coming down the aisle--absolutely adorable)!  The faithfulness of God to bring him to this day of momentous celebration brought tears of joy to my eyes and many others.  We have seen this beloved family go through so many times of great distress and have prayed for this young man's protection and healing more times than we could ever count.  So Saturday, I also had the privilege and joy of lifting up many words of praise to God for it all, and for allowing all of us the grand delight of seeing God's hand of healing and provision in this young life.  I asked God to shelter him and his darling new bride, and give them a long life of loving one another and serving Him together.  I also prayed for the family of the special person who donated the liver to him--that God would give them many provisions, blessings, and comfort, as well. Besides my own daughter's wedding last November, I don't know that I've ever attended a wedding where I felt so humbled and thankful for what I was witnessing from God's hand on so many different fronts. What a great day.