I have alluded to the fact that this hasn't been the easiest year for my family in a few different blog posts, but I haven't really gone into any more detail than that. Honestly, I didn't know how to write about what was happening or even if it was my place to say. The past four months have been the most challenging, faith-testing of our lives, and I feel like it's time to share. With my little sister's permission, here is the story.
It's Christmas of 2013, and life is perfect. Our family is healthy, happy, and together. We are laughing and hugging without a care in the world. That was the last time for the foreseeable future that life would be so perfect, so easy and care-free. I have three sisters: a twin, a younger sister, and a youngest sister. My youngest sister is Faith, and she is 18 years old and a freshman in college. In December, she began seeing spots in one of her eyes. She described it as the spots you see when you stare into the sun and then go back inside, except what she was seeing was all the time. She went to the eye doctor in January who then sent her higher up the chain to a more advanced doctor. He suspected there was something more behind the spots she was seeing, and he was right. They suspected a slew of different causes, Lupus and MS being two strong contenders. We were all so scared.
The tests came back, and she was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, a rare auto-immune disease. Honestly, this seemed like fairly good news considering what it could have been. They put her on a steroid drip to take care of the vision issues, and it was something that could be controlled with medicine. She was given meds and went to college the following week to start her spring semester. Everything was going to be okay.
February 2nd, 2014, everything came crashing down. I got a call from my dad that Faith's vision was completely gone in her right eye, the same eye she was seeing the spots. She came home and was checked into the hospital where she would be escalated to specialized doctor after specialized doctor. Countless vials of blood were taken, and every test the doctors knew to run was done. They came up with nothing. All we knew was that Faith had lost vision in her right eye, but nobody could seem to tell us why. These were some of the top doctors in the world.
We prayed so fervently through this entire process that God would restore her vision, that He would erase the damage that was done and heal her of whatever had attacked her body. I would be lying if I said I didn't begin to lose hope. The doctors hadn't given us anything to hold on to. They didn't think her vision was ever going to come back, and they couldn't tell if the left eye was going to be in danger or not. I had trouble seeing God in this situation. We needed Him- where was He? I think I cried almost every time I spoke with one of my family members, and so did they. Do you know the one person who never seemed to break? The one person who remained confident that God would heal her? Faith. We were scared to death for her, yet she was referencing scripture and telling us all not to be scared, that God had a plan. Wow.
She spent days at a time in the hospital and was at a different doctor's appointment every week, and the doctors still didn't know what was going on. They did diagnose her once, but they took the diagnosis back hours later. I don't think we will ever truly know what happened, and that is scary. Essentially, an enemy (we believe a virus) came in, did its damage, and left. Sarcoidosis was probably a misdiagnosis from the start. Can you imagine being completely healthy, all of a sudden losing vision in one eye, being told the doctors don't know why it happened, and then being sent back into the world to live life as normally as you can? I can't, but that's what happened to Faith.
We had all accepted that the right eye may never come back, but what about the left eye? Living with one eye is an adjustment, to say the least, but Faith can still live out her dreams. Losing both eyes would change her life forever. As you can imagine, Faith was scared. She had remained so faithful through it all, so confident that God had her, but the reality of her situation couldn't be ignored. We all continued to pray for a miracle and for protection of the left eye. One night in the middle of the night, Faith cried out to God in her most vulnerable state. She was so scared she would lose her left eye and be completely blind. She prayed and cried and prayed to the God who has been with her from the beginning, and God answered. In that moment, she saw an image of God covering her left eye. He is protecting it. He is protecting her.
I can't believe that all of this has happened. I honestly can't. There is a saying that "God doesn't give you any more than you can handle", and I have been guilty of saying that before. I mean He never had, so I believed it. That saying is a lie. You won't find it in the Bible anywhere. The fact is, God did give us more than we could handle. He absolutely did. This has been both the most faith-testing and faith-affirming experience of my life. God rocked our world, we never saw it coming, and our faith in Him is stronger for it.
Our family of 8 was reunited last weekend for the Casting Crowns concert, and it was a beautiful time of praise and worship as a family. I watched as Faith lifted her hands to praise the God that gives and takes away and was reduced to tears. I don't think there was a dry eye among us when we sang "Praise You In This Storm". We went through the biggest storm of our lives, but God never left our side. He was present and holding onto us every time we let go. I don't know why God lets bad things happen. I never will, but I do know that God doesn't abandon us when they do. He carries us, loves us, and sees us through to the other side. God is good, friends. He is good all the time.
I look at my 18 year old baby sister and am in awe of her faith. It was no accident she was named "Faith", and I could write a whole other post on the miracle of her birth story to back this up. God has been dreaming big plans for her from the beginning. She may only have vision in one eye, but she sees more clearly than anyone I have ever known.
"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."- Romans 8:28