“How can this be God?” – Noah’s heart surgery

Our family on Fourth of July weekend taking a short trip to Amish country before Noah's surgery.

Our family on Fourth of July weekend taking a short trip to Amish country before Noah’s surgery.

Half of Noah's BIG family - my whole side on our weekend.

Half of Noah’s BIG family – my whole side on our weekend.

I’ve sat here all morning trying to figure out how to write about Noah’s surgery tomorrow and our feelings about that. We were matched with Noah 14 months ago and prayed for him every single day. I memorized his videos and started to fall in love with him before we even met. We met Noah exactly four months ago tomorrow. He walked into our lives looking shell-shocked and a little terrified and we were a little terrified too. Now he’s happy and laughing and this morning he told me that he loves his big family and America. This boy we had never met six months ago is my son. And I love him.

Tomorrow he’s having open heart surgery. When I picture what they have to do to him, I feel sick to my stomach. I know this is necessary for him to live, and I know it’s what’s best for him, and yet the thought of him having to go through that makes me break out in a cold sweat. I trust God, and I know this is what Noah needs, and I just wish there was another way.

I wonder, is this just the smallest glimpse of God’s feelings about sending His only Son to earth? He knew what was coming, and He knew that we would crucify His only Son. He knew it was what was best for us, that it was necessary for us to live, but I’m sure He wished there was another way.

We’ve started sharing the Gospel with Noah. His grasp of English has come so far, and he feels safe with us, so it feels like the right time to begin explaining what we believe. Noah comes from a background somewhere between atheism and vague Buddhism with some ancestor worship thrown in (a complicated prospect for a boy who has no information about his ancestors). He had no concept of Jesus before He met us. He accepted without question that we prayed, but when I explained that we were talking to God by doing that, he looked incredulous. Toby has a cube in their room that has the Gospel printed on it pictorially, and Noah brought it to me. Apparently he’d been looking at it and wanted to know what the paper said that was nailed to the cross over Jesus’ head. It is the charge against Jesus at His crucifixion: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” I explained the Gospel to Noah and told him that Jesus was God. He looked at the picture of Jesus on the cross, and then waved toward it as he asked, “How can this be God?”

All the gods Noah has seen are made of gold. They sit in big temples. There are hundreds of them and you can follow them or not. They are revered, feared, cosseted, and powerful. But this One, this God, was a humbled man on a cross. One who died. One who was mocked and spit upon and beaten.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Is. 53:5

How could this be God? If He was God, why would He allow Himself to be treated this way? It doesn’t make sense!

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. I Cor. 1:18

In the wisdom of this world, powerful people save themselves. They demand respect. They would show their power by painting their world in gold and placing themselves above everyone else. But God has taught us a different way, and He has shown it to us with a different love.

… [Be the same as] Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Phil. 4:5b-8

Jesus came to earth to die for us. He came even though we didn’t deserve it, even though many mocked Him, spat on Him, brutalized Him. He came because it was best for us, because it was necessary for us to live. Sometimes life comes at a great cost.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Roman 5:7-8

Tomorrow we will demonstrate our love for Noah by helping him through this surgery. It’s hard to look at him now, to all appearances healthy when he’s still, and know that we will cause such trauma to his little body. But we also know that his healthy appearance isn’t the truth, and that this trauma is necessary for a much greater good. In the same way, all of us try very hard to look “healthy” on the outside, but without Christ, that appearance isn’t the truth either – we need the sacrifice of Jesus to truly live.

I pray that one day Noah will know Christ. That he will love God as we do and know the truly life-saving power of the cross. I pray that for everyone on this earth. And tomorrow I will be praying that God will protect Noah as the surgeons give him the gift of a much healthier and longer life.

We have gotten many questions about Noah’s surgery. We would love your prayers for tomorrow!

Answers to your frequently asked questions:

Q: Will this fix Noah’s heart?
A: No. It isn’t possible to “fix” Noah’s heart as he is missing an entire pumping chamber. This will reroute his blood system, making it more efficient and allowing his single ventricle to not have to work as hard as it currently does. Rerouting his system should greatly improve his oxygenation, getting it near normal levels which should really improve his quality of life. He will be able to run and play! It will also take some of the stress off his heart, hopefully allowing it to last longer.

Q: Is this his final surgery?
A: Probably not. He will have a gortec vessel implanted which will likely need to be replaced sometime in the next 10-20 years. Some patients with this procedure still need a heart transplant later in their lives.

Q: Will he have a “normal” life expectancy now?
A: They can’t really tell us as the surgery hasn’t been performed long enough for them to know how long people live with it. However, we do know it greatly increases his life expectancy and greatly improves his quality of life which are both amazing and wonderful things. The oldest patients with this procedure are now in their early 50’s.

Q: Will he be able to participate in sports/ have “normal” physical activity?
A: We think so! They can’t tell us how he will respond exactly, and he will not be an Olympian, but most children with this procedure can have very normal, active lifestyles.

Q: What’s the schedule for the surgery/ how long will he be in the hospital?
A: He has to be at the hospital at 6am tomorrow and surgery starts at 7:30. He will be in for 5-9 hours, more likely on the shorter end of that span. He will be in ICU for 1-3 days and then move to a step-down unit on the cardiac floor. We are allowed to stay with him at all times, even at night and in the ICU. The rest of the time in the hospital varies a lot because people’s reaction to this procedure varies a lot. Noah is also significantly older than most patients having this procedure so he may be in longer. They have told us to plan on about two weeks, but it could be three or more or even as short as 7-10 days. We’ll just have to see how he does when he comes out.

Q: What are your prayer requests?
A: Thanks for asking!!! We specifically want to pray for his safety, for the procedure to be successful, for the gortec to last in a miraculous way so he doesn’t have to do this again, for protection for his brain (he has to go on a heart/lung bypass and that can cause concerns with oxygen deprivation), for protection from clots as he is healing, and for our family to bring glory to God with every single person with whom we come in contact at the hospital.

Q: Can we come visit him in the hospital?
A: Do we know you? 🙂 Seriously, yes, after he is out of ICU, if you know Noah personally, text me and we will let you know if it’s a good time. Also, you will need a code to get on his floor. The boy will be very bored and will be allowed to move around and play by then, so don’t forget to bring a game and your sense of humor with you!

10 Responses to ““How can this be God?” – Noah’s heart surgery”

  1. Fanny says:

    Praying for Noah. God is good and He will provide as He has done. I definitely will want to come see him once he’s out of ICU. Will text you.

  2. Danielle Wright says:

    Prayers! I also want you to know I sent this out on our prayer chain, the whole Bethel family is praying for your family and this procedure.

  3. Susan Rabold says:

    Our prayers will abound tomorrow early in AM. Will be awaiting the good news whenever it comes! : ) God will be with ALL of you. PTL in all things! Love and Prayers! Susie (and Ron too!)

  4. jennifer says:

    Thanks, Fanny, we will be happy to see you! Love you, thanks for all you’ve done for us. 🙂

  5. jennifer says:

    Danielle, thank you! I appreciate that so much! We are planning to bring Noah over to Bethel after he recovers – we wanted to thank you all again in person and you have been such a blessing to us!

  6. jennifer says:

    Thanks, Susie, we appreciate that so much! We will also be excited for the good news. 🙂

  7. Joan says:

    Praying for you and your precious family as you minister and serve this little child. He is so loved and so precious in the sight of God. “Thy will be done”

  8. Jodi says:

    My prayers are with you. I know God is with you! He is faithful.

  9. jennifer says:

    Thank you, Joan, we appreciate your prayers so much!

  10. jennifer says:

    Yes He is! Thank you, Jodi, you all have been beautiful support during this whole adventure!

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