Please take a good look at this photo of our sweet little nephew. His name is Ethan. What do you see?
The scene is a familiar one, isn’t it? On the surface, a young child is drawing with chalk on a sidewalk in the warm sunshine. It’s a simple and carefree pleasure of childhood, a cheap one, too—and in this instance, a young boy’s chance to creatively express himself.
It’s also a picture of innocence; a sweet and happy outing. The family driveway provides the perfect canvas for a small kid with a big imagination. As you might be able to tell in this snapshot, Ethan is copying a picture of a heart, likely drawn by his mom or dad. He appears quite focused, doesn’t he? He’s on the job! He’ll get it done!
But Ethan’s outing and subject of choice is not all that it appears. It’s not less, mind you, but actually quite a bit more. In this snapshot, he is, indeed, just outside his house having fun. But Ethan is also a very sick boy and knows more about hearts than most children his age. Especially his own.
Our precious nephew has undergone three open heart surgeries. He was born with only two chambers instead of the usual four. With each surgery some incredible doctors have been attempting to reconstruct his whole coronary system. As you can imagine, it has been a long, emotional and painful journey.
Ethan’s parents are Christians. They depend on the Lord for every second of every day. They consider each moment with their son to be a gift, leaning on and believing in the words of the Psalmist who wrote, “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him . . . Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Psalm 127:3,5a).
It is so easy to take our health and our energy for granted. On an intellectual level, we may know we’re not invincible, but do we realize how fragile our lives really are?
Here’s a boy so greatly afflicted, and yet a child who loves and enjoys his life. Look at that smile! He’s proud of his new glasses and was especially tickled when someone pointed out they were Buzz Lightyear colors. Can you blame him?
Ethan and his mom and dad and sister are relying on the Lord. “Do not worry about your life,” Jesus tells us, “. . . who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Matthew 6:22, 25). Our Lord’s words are powerful and true. Yet, it is still so very difficult to not “worry” about your sick child, isn’t it?
Somebody recently told me that it’s not until Jesus is all you have that you often realize Jesus is all you need. Ethan and his parents know this is true—and I hope that by personalizing their journey here, we might remember it as well.
Please pray for Ethan, and all the boys and girls who are struggling with physical and emotional ailments, won’t you? Jesus loves each and every one of them. And, maybe tonight, hug your kids just a little tighter. Every day is a gift.