It was supposed to be a routine checkup for an ear infection of their first child. But last month, when Joel and Jess McClenahan took their precious 11-month-old baby girl, Cora Paige, to the pediatrician, they discovered Cora had stage-four cancer. Two weeks after the diagnosis, Cora died, leaving the McClenahan’s with a mind-numbing grief and a host of unanswered questions.
And yet, Joel and Jess clung to their faith in Jesus to sustain them. On their blog, which they created the day Cora was born for the benefit of friends and family, Jess wrote: “Joel and I can’t make it through this on our own, but we know we can with the Lord walking with us each step of the way, ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,’ Psalm 46:1.”
When they began to blog about Cora’s diagnosis and treatment, Cora’s story went “viral” on the web and, almost overnight, the events surrounding little Cora’s life and death was followed by concerned visitors from around the world. A reported 800,000 hits from 17 countries has produced a groundswell of condolences and support. While Cora couldn’t speak a word, her story has already touched the lives of people the world over.
In honor of Cora’s life, the McClenahan’s are planning to build “Cora’s Playground” on the grounds of their church, Grace Community. Speaking to Channel 12 Eyewitness News in Newton, KS, they explained, “We just felt like there was nothing more important than little kids hearing about Jesus so [building the playground] would be a little way that we could contribute to that.” Of the needed $45,000 necessary to erect the playground, $31,000 has been raised to date.
This week has been especially difficult for the McClenahan’s. Jess is honest about her suffering and wonders “how long I will feel like my heart is crushed. [I’m] wondering if life will ever feel ‘normal’ again. Wondering why God allows us to go through such painful things.” And yet, she explains “My relationship with Christ and the HOPE that I have in Him—that is what is getting me through these hard, lonely days. I long to read the Word each day because it comforts me in a way that only HE can.”
If you think of it, pray for Joel and Jess this week as they mourn the loss of Cora. And, if you don’t know the Savior who gives His people a peace that passes all human comprehension—even in the midst of such pain, contact us at 1-800-AFAMILY. We’d be honored to introduce you to Him.