This week, on April 4, our family remembers Transplant Day.
It was a day we eagerly anticipated, the climax of our time in hospital, the day we had set our hopes for our daughter’s physical healing.
Expectancy. Fear. The unknown.
I walked our 5 year old daughter into the operating room, helped sit her up on the table and watched her fall into the deep sleep of anesthesia. They would take half a litre of her bone marrow and give it to her 9 month old sister, so she would begin to produce what her body was not, the immune cells she was missing.
My husband stayed up in the room with the little one, as I paced circles around the walking track, which was near the pediatric operating area (convenient for me). Uncertain how our oldest would handle the anaesthetic, the pain, the side effects of the procedure. Unsure if the transplant would work, or if it would be rejected it.
So many unknowns.
I look back and remember that day, the fears and the anxieties, the hope and the peace. The memories bring back deep emotions from a very trying time.
We all have memories, anniversaries of different kinds. Some we celebrate with joy, some sting with what could have been, others we are still deeply grieving through. What do we do with our memories? Do we stuff them down, so that we don’t experience the pain? Maybe we choose to just remember the good? Do we give ourselves the grace to feel, to bring our hurts and pain in front of our Father God? When the anniversaries come, how do we respond?
See, how we remember affects us today. Adele Calhoun* writes “how we remember determines so much of who we are and who we become.” If walking in our memories affects who we are today, we need to learn how to remember in order to grow and transform into the people God wants us to be.
The Bible Calls Us To Remember. The Bible uses the word “remember” over 400 times. God instructed the Israelites in Deuteronomy 15:15, “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you.” They were to institute traditions that would help them to annually remember all that God had done for them. He wanted them to celebrate, to think on, and to teach the next generation.
Psalm 143:5 says “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” We are called and commanded to remember what God has done in our lives. Inside the stories of our lives, God has been at work. He has been shaping us and growing us, and we bear the testimony of His goodness to us in all that He has done, in us and through us.
We Can Get Stuck. Our memories can be painful. We can hold on to bitterness and resentment over situations that happened in our past. There may be grief hanging on tight. But when we stop looking for God’s purpose or presence, we get stuck right where we are. Sitting in the pediatric ICU, there were moments when I knew I could cling only to the grief, especially in the midst of suffering. I could choose whether or not to look for Him, or rather choose to drown in sorrow. It is not an easy choice, and there were times when I did both. We may not have answers to God’s purpose in our pain, but we always have the promise of His presence. However, we must take courage and pray for the strength to look for it.
We Remember In Light of the Gospel. In Luke 22:19 “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” We have a powerful story to hold on to. An evil-shattering testimony of truth, that Jesus came to make things right in this world, through the Gospel. Calhoun** writes, “Jesus’ scars are reminders that God has entered hell and is prepared to be with us in our own private hells of hurt - even as he draws us out of them toward healing and new beginnings.” Jesus has scars too. His journey here on earth was not filled with ease, rather with animosity and suffering. He walks with us, as we call out to Him in our struggles, and He is ever with us, if only we look to see Him there. His desire is to bring us into newness of life, to experience healing through Him, and most often, our character is shaped in the difficult times of life.
This week, our family will celebrate healing. We look through our photo book of moments from two years ago when there was so much uncertainty. We remember the hand of God in all of it, and as we move forward into a new season of life (and perhaps some new uncertainties), we know that every step has the potential to keep us stuck, but the life of Jesus reminds us to hold on to His promises and His presence, in whatever lies ahead. We have a two year post-transplant appointment coming up, to check her bloodwork and see if her body is mounting antibodies to her immunizations. It’s more anticipation, and another step forward into this journey He has laid ahead for us.
How we remember shapes us today. As our own anniversaries and memories creep up through the daily grind of life, we are filled with so many different emotions. We remember the Bible calling us to remember, to proclaim the goodness of God. We strive away from getting stuck by looking for His presence and promises in our memories and by bringing the Gospel to the very front of it all.
Today, if you look back on your life in decades, who was God to you? What events shaped your life the most? How did you see God’s hand at work?
*Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Invitations from God, p.172