Hope Born of Suffering, Perseverance, Character

By Amy Rapada

SAMMAMISH, WA (January 19, 2011) – It was a brief, unforgettable moment.

My husband, Cal, and I were looking at a toy catalog with our severely disabled son, Zach. Cal asked him to point to something he wanted for Christmas. Zach didn’t respond.

Cal encouraged him again. “Zach, if you see something that you like, just touch it.” That was when Zach reached his hand out and he touched his dad on the shoulder.

Zach is thankful for what he already has – a family who loves him and a family who, with God’s help, has found a way to persevere.

There has been much through which we have had to persevere. When he was 17, we wound up at Children’s Hospital. That was not unusual – there had been many trips to hospitals.

What was different about this experience, though, is that we would be there for 32 days due to complications of our son’s mitochondrial disease. He had surgery and we were referred to a residential institution for those with severe developmental disabilities. We also received the difficult news from doctors and specialists that there was nothing more they could do to help.

Zach is now age 19. God blessed us with the ability to keep him at home for 18-½ years. We recently made the difficult decision to fly him by air ambulance to a worldwide center for special needs. He resides there currently with round-the-clock care and intensive innovative therapies.

Our travels back and forth to visit him have become our monthly highlights. Daily phone calls are made to let him hear our voices, and we take delight in his simple noises. Technology has allowed us to read stories to him weekly, while we eagerly anticipate his reactions.

We will visit and be near Zach during the Christmas season and once again, we will be reminded of what we are thankful for – God’s grace upon grace. His grace is enough in the midst of sorrows and gives us joy.

Romans 5:3-4 reads, “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

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