A truly harrowing Christmas memory
for me is of events that took place 15 years ago as we visited the family
of my wife, Patty, in Kansas City, Mo. The episode clearly showed us God’s
provision, and enabled us to grow in faith.
youngest son, Zach, then 19 months old, had a fever all Christmas
Day, but because we didn’t have a thermometer we didn’t
know his exact temperature. We gave him a sponge bath and baby
Tylenol to try to reduce his fever.
God allowed the frightening experience
that followed to happen, but He clearly orchestrated the circumstances to
prevent it from being much worse. Normally Zach would be sleeping in his own
room, but he was in a playpen beside our pullout sofa in the house crowded
with Christmas guests.
Patty and I were in bed, but still
awake, which was unusual for us at such a late hour. We had been playing games
with other family members.
We heard Zach making clicking sounds,
and Patty immediately recognized it as a seizure, even though Zach had never
had one before. Patty swept Zach up in her arms and ran into her parents’
bedroom. Patty’s mom, a nurse, immediately took control, and said nothing
could be done during the seizure itself, which lasted about two minutes. The
time seemed like a terrifying eternity: watching our little son shake uncontrollably,
foam at the mouth, his eyes rolled in the back of his head. Beads of sweat
formed on Zach’s forehead. He didn’t respond to our voices.
This could have been a time for
panic. Instead, Patty just hugged Zach and we prayed for God’s protection.
Three months earlier we had started to attend a Pentecostal church for the
first time and had started learning about exercising spiritual gifts. Patty
instinctively rebuked Satan.
We quickly drove to a nearby hospital.
We learned that Zach had a temperature of 104 — half an hour after being
given Tylenol. A nurse gave Zach another sponge bath. A chest X-ray showed
no problems. The doctor diagnosed him with a fever-induced seizure, and said
some children need to be monitored more closely.
Back home in Iowa the day after
Christmas, our local physician put Zach on an antiseizure drug.
But Zach never had another seizure.
Today, looking at our burly 17-year-old son, it’s hard to imagine that
time when he was a vulnerable baby. Yet that episode proved to be an important
faith-building step for our family.