How blessed we are to have friends who lift us up, who speak truth to us, who listen, give advice, encouragement and their constant prayers. This is richness; this is true treasure to have such wonderful women in your life.




Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Hannah's Story


by guest writer Susi Rowley

Seventeen years ago this month my life was changed forever.  My brilliant, nearly four year old daughter, Hannah, was diagnosed with leukemia. The fact that statistics said she had an 80% chance of survival up to five years wasn't comforting to read, even when told by the staff at CHLA (Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles) or to hear repeatedly from our friends and family. Yet I heard it often. A 20% chance my amazing Hannah would die was no comfort at all.  At that time, I had been a Christ follower for eighteen years and little Hannah had given her heart to Jesus just three months earlier.

 

Over the next four years and nine months, the fear and reality of death was all around us. The Lord brought so many families into our lives, most of whom had children given about the same odds for survival as Hannah; however, many of these precious babes died.

 

How do I keep going with death and sadness all around? First, I wholeheartedly believe that our family, including Hannah, was put in that hospital "for such a time as this.” It wasn't fun or easy, but minute-by-minute we as a family chose to let the Lord be glorified in each situation.

 

That being said, seeing the Lord seemingly ignore our plea for help and call our amazing gift home to be with Him, while she suffered the unimaginable pain of an intestinal infection and leukemia ravaging her little body, broke my heart. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to think that the Lord was going to be more glorified in Hannah's death than He was in her life.

She was so very loved in her short eight and a half years. Once she got sick, God's people loved our family incredibly well. People all around the world were praying for Hannah, which meant they were drawing closer to the Lord through her journey. She once told me she would live a life of sickness if it brought glory to her Lord. She also used to encourage me to remember that if the Lord chose to take her home with Him, she would be in the presence of the Most High God, and I should rejoice and not be sad. (She also prayed fervently for several moms she knew who had lost their children to cancer and weren't able to minister to their other children due to the grief they were experiencing, and she certainly didn't want that to be me.)


The truth is God can't be glorified in the "why.” Picture your own child begging to go play at the park, "daddy is on his way home and mommy has to make dinner, maybe tomorrow" you say. However, no answer you provide is sufficient for your little one who only wants to hear you say, “YES.”  If I repeatedly ask God why, even if He gave me a legitimate answer, my response would still be "but why"? I would be responding just like my child's response to me. No answer God gives me will make sense.



We simply need to cast our fear on the Lord and trust Him for the strength to go through whatever valley may come our way. You WILL NOT have the strength ahead of time. Stop worrying about the "what ifs.” Only if a tragedy hits your family, will God flood you with the strength to go on. Fretting over all that "might happen" or "could happen" won't bring glory to God and will hinder your ability to serve and minister to your most precious gift…your family.



Hannah has a beautiful younger sister who is currently in Guatemala on a mission’s trip; she is also praying about serving on a ten-month mission trip in early 2017. It would be so easy to quench her desire to serve the Lord because of fear of losing our Abigail. My husband and I have purposed in our hearts to trust the Lord on her behalf and not let the death of our first child cause us to hold Abigail back from God's calling in her life. We also have seen first hand that we can't choose to live or die. We can however wholeheartedly trust in the One who holds the keys to life and death.



The Lord was with us in that hospital room in the final day of precious Hannah's life. He hadn't abandoned our amazing little girl in her greatest hour of need. She was awake and alert and in unimaginable pain yet she suffered holding onto her faith until the very moment she reached over my direction looking far above and beyond my eyes, smiled the most beautiful smile I had ever seen and said "I'm in, I'm in.”



 I believe that death isn't in our DNA. Because God created us as eternal beings and death only came after the fall, dying never sits well on our hearts. Even if a loved one lives a long life, we don't want them to go and miss them terribly after they are gone.  I always told my girls that death is the devil's last-ditch effort to get us to denounce our Savior. Many times and certainly in Hannah's case, the horrible suffering is just the devil working overtime. We give glory to God in and through our suffering. Oh, the crowns my little girl must have received when she entered into the presence of her God! We made a pact that day that we would meet her at the Tree Of Life... We truly have a little treasure in Heaven, and Heaven is a very sweet place for our family.


7 comments:

  1. Susi I can't imagine the loss you, Jerry and Abigail suffered the day Hannah was taken home. You paint such a beautiful picture of Hannah looking at the Angels and saying, for those who were fortunate to spend her last moments on Earth, say "I'm in, I'm in" I know am very aware of the lookin get beautiful eyes when she saw those beautiful Angels of God as I would see that same look in my husband Cal's beautiful blue eyes (9/18/08) & my Mother's longing brown eyes (9/8/09). I remember telling Cal to look for Ally, our granddaughter, playing next to the tree and before he knows it he will turn around and see me there. Hannah's testimony and journey helped me more than you will ever know, as she showed how wonderful and beautiful our Lord really is. Also, your family's show of faith and peace in your eyes showed me the hope we have in Jesus. Thank you Rowley family God Bless you!!! Love you sister in Christ 💚

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    1. This is such a beautiful, uplifting and hopeful comment! Thank you, Yolanda!!

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  2. Susi I can't imagine the loss you, Jerry and Abigail suffered the day Hannah was taken home. You paint such a beautiful picture of Hannah looking at the Angels and saying, for those who were fortunate to spend her last moments on Earth, say "I'm in, I'm in" I know am very aware of the lookin get beautiful eyes when she saw those beautiful Angels of God as I would see that same look in my husband Cal's beautiful blue eyes (9/18/08) & my Mother's longing brown eyes (9/8/09). I remember telling Cal to look for Ally, our granddaughter, playing next to the tree and before he knows it he will turn around and see me there. Hannah's testimony and journey helped me more than you will ever know, as she showed how wonderful and beautiful our Lord really is. Also, your family's show of faith and peace in your eyes showed me the hope we have in Jesus. Thank you Rowley family God Bless you!!! Love you sister in Christ 💚

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  3. This entire post from Susi is so beautiful and honest and hopeful and full of wisdom!!! I keep coming back to reread it and two things that Susi says in this blog post that really impacted me.

    The first is that NO answer God gives us to our "Why?" questions during difficult situations will make sense to us. Her example with your child asking to go to the park while you are fixing dinner really hit home. We have all dealt with that kind of question from our little ones and no answer, however wise and right, besides "Yes" will make them happy. I am just saying that was PROFOUND!!!

    The second one was this quote from Susi:

    We simply need to cast our fear on the Lord and trust Him for the strength to go through whatever valley may come our way. You WILL NOT have the strength ahead of time. Stop worrying about the "what ifs.” Only if a tragedy hits your family, will God flood you with the strength to go on. Fretting over all that "might happen" or "could happen" won't bring glory to God and will hinder your ability to serve and minister to your most precious gift…your family.

    Honestly, there is so much to glean from this post, Susi! Thank you again and again, my friend!!!

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  4. When I witness to new people and they have a fear of what happens after death I give them scripture to reassure them but also tell them Hannah's story and her words I'm in I'm in. They are always amazed and comforted. It makes heaven more real for them. Hannah's faith still encourages.

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