This is my story. I hope that it will bring you encouragement.
In the Beginning...
Although it was 16 years ago, I remember these events like they occurred yesterday. I was only 10 years old and excited about life. I had faith that everything would be great no matter what. After all, God loved me. I didn't have a great conceptual understanding of faith at the time. Little did I know that the journey ahead would build my faith and stick-to-it-iveness. Our family went to church every Sunday and did Bible studies together. Back then I thought that Sundays were "God's days". They were the type of days to fully focus on Him. I didn't know then what I know now. God is with us ALWAYS, not just on Sundays.
As an athletic youth, I was part of a jazz dance group that was getting ready to perform a big show. We were so excited about our outfits, the routine, and the fact that our parents would be watching. Everything was preteen bliss... until it wasn't.
I had recently started to have problems seeing, even with glasses. It felt like my vision was diminishing every day. Like grains of sand slipping through my fingers, so was my vision escaping me. So my Mom took me to the eye doctor to get them checked. At the time, I wore glasses, so we thought that I just might need an updated prescription. The doctor tried, but he could not find a prescription that could improve my vision. Over the next few days, my vision just got worse, and worse, and worse. I felt really bad about not being able to do chores, dance with my group, or do homework. My head started to throb daily. As a result, my parents took me to the hospital to get an MRI (basically a scan of my brain). The doctors told my parents that they didn't see anything unusual. They accused me of lying about my migraines and vision loss. This made my parents mad. I was scared... There was so much uncertainty and fear.
We went back to the eye doctor the next day. He was very concerned and insisted on us getting another MRI. So we did. Once again, my parents drove me to the hospital. This time it was the Seattle Children's hospital. At this point, I was scared to death. I hadn't slept well and was barely able to see. My dad tried to cheer me up by playing Mad Libs with me in the car. We had a blast. It was the most time I had spent with my dad in a long time. After I finished the MRI, the doctors told us that they found a tumor. It was wrapped around some very important areas of my brain. They told my family and I about the risks of the surgery. They also explained the fact that I would have to take tons of medications to replace the functions of my brain that would be damaged during surgery. These medications were medications that I would have to take every day for the rest of my life. Surgeons explained that they would have to remove half of my skull to access the tumor. The doctors continued to talk about the surgery with my parents.
While they spoke, I looked at the coloring books that they gave me. They showed what to expect going into surgery. That day was hard on my family and I. We went home and prayed an awful lot. This was the beginning of a long journey with ups and downs, celebrations, and defeats.
Turning to God
I prayed harder than I had ever prayed before. I also cried an awful lot and talked to God throughout the few days before the surgery. My parents tried not to cry in front of me. They were brave and did their best to take my mind off the upcoming event.
A day or two later, my parents had me hop in the car. They took me to church, where a small group of members had gathered. As soon as we entered the church, we were greeted with smiles, joy, and the overall atmosphere of happiness. The pastor said that everything was going to be okay and that God is always with us.
They anointed my head with oil and prayed over me with open arms. They gathered around like a shield and all laid their hands on me as they prayed. The elders gave me a blanket that they had stitched. It was made to remind me of God's vast and never-ending love for every single one of His children. That night, I went to sleep with the warmth of God's hands on my shoulders and a little less fear in my heart.
To be continued...
Joshua Hurtado from Washington State on November 10, 2020:
This is such a great story, very impactful. I hope many people are able to read this and are encouraged in the process.