What Bad News is Teaching Me About a Good God
In March of 2020, our daughter injured her elbow. Unbeknownst to us at that time, it was the beginning of a long ordeal, fraught with bad news.
Many times over the past two years, we asked God for healing and good outcomes for our sweet girl, only to receive unexpected and unlikely bad outcomes instead.
I’m not one to ask God “why” when bad things happen. I know we live in a fallen world.
But I do question “why” prayers aren’t answered. Did I not have enough faith?
Today on the blog, I’d like to share an overview of our journey and what I am learning from it.
Here is a recap of what happened:
Bad news: 8 year old Clara is injured at a trampoline park and taken to the ER. She is diagnosed as a possible break, based on pain and immobility mainly, as they didn’t actually see anything on the X-ray and no radiologist was on call.
We follow up with a specialist 5 very painful days later.
Bad news: It’s not broken, it’s dislocated and has been out for 5 days.
We coax Clara into letting them reduce it in the office (which was very painful).
Bad news: It doesn’t work. She’s heading to immediate surgery.
Surgery #1: A 30 min surgery turns into 2 hours.
Bad news: Surgeon couldn’t get the elbow bone to stay in, so she inserted a temporary pin to hold it together. Arm was splinted and then later put it in a cast for good measure.
Several weeks later, the cast comes off and pin is removed.
Bad news: The pin broke off in her elbow joint (which is extremely rare), and immediate surgery needed to retrieve it.
Surgery #2: I have to go with her alone because of Covid rules.
Bad news: A 30 min surgery turns into 2 hours. Surgeon can’t get the pin out and is forced to push it in farther instead. But it is near a growth plate so it could cause a future issue and must be monitored for years.
Her arm is splinted again.
We are back in the office 2 weeks later to remove the splint.
Bad news: The elbow is back out, Clara will be referred to specialist at a top hospital hours away from home.
Surgery #3: Specialist will do immediate surgery. She will cut the ulna bone, set it at an angle, and then use a plate and screws to join it back together. This will create torque to keep the radius bone “in.”
By this point Mitch takes over taking Clara to follow up appointments because all the bad news has triggered anxiety issues for me with appointments.
We follow up weeks later to remove the split.
Bad news: The elbow is out of joint… again.
Surgery #4: Surgeon will repeat the same procedure except use a wedge of cadaver bone to create a more severe bend in the arm bone and more torque.
Bad news: During the surgery the anesthesiologist notices and irregular heart rhythm that often requires heart surgery. We are referred to a cardiologist.
Follow up from surgery,
Good news: The elbow is in! but…
Bad news: it has “slipped up” and not ideally placed. But good enough… hopefully.
Bad news: The surgical break is not healing, and after so much time immobilized and trauma to the joint, Clara’s range of motion is down to nothing.
She starts physical therapy and daily ultrasound therapy for endless months to try to regain motion and achieve healing.
Good news: The cardiologist can’t find evidence of a heart problem, so Clara is discharged from his care.
Good news: Some motion is restored through therapy.
Bad news: Elbow rotation does not come back and the surgical break still won’t heal. Clara needs another surgery to promote the healing of the last surgery.
Surgery #5: Surgeon will reopen the elbow to clean away scar tissue. She will also take bone matter from Clara’s hip to grind and pack into the surgical break and add another metal plate to promote healing.
Bad news: No rotation was re-gained by the procedure. There is nothing more that can be done.
Good news: When the additional metal plate was added and the screws tightened down, the elbow bone came “down” into a better place. A happy and unexpected blessing!
Good news: At a follow up months we learn that the surgical break has finally healed! Clara can now bear weight and work on regaining strength, over one year later!
Surgery #6: More months of physical therapy come and go, and we are still concerned about her awkward hand position and how it impacts her life. Surgeon orders CT scan and decides to call in another top surgeon to perform an elbow scope and clean out the elbow scar tissue another way, to maybe regain that rotation.
Bad news: It doesn’t work, so they move forward immediately with Plan B (or should I say Plan Z by this point?)— another procedure: cutting her other forearm bone (the radius), rotating it, and screwing it back together with a metal plate so that, when healed, her hand will be in a better position.
That was this week.
Looking back over the past two years, I can tell you that it has been an emotional journey of ups and downs.
We’ve all grown through it, Clara especially, as has our trust in God’s complete sovereignty. I can honestly see the good He’s brought about, which would not have happened if the trial was taken away prematurely.
Through it all, I’ve realized that I don’t control God with my prayers. If I did, He wouldn’t be God. He does hear them, and He does love us, but it’s not His will for us to have a trial-free life.
In fact, James 1:2-4 has been playing through my mind as I consider this.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I see the growth in our fortitude, our faith, and our eternal hope. I am grateful for God’s wisdom in each outcome, as hard as it was along the way.
And, in the midst of our story, even when the answer was no, still God’s provision was evident. Did you catch all the Good News tucked in there? Those were answers to earnest prayers!
More things to be grateful for:
- this is Clara’s left arm (she’s right handed)
- the peace we have felt
- Clara’s toughness, faith, and ability to cope
- her dedicated team of doctors
- that her elbow is in joint and in a good position for her moving forward
That’s a lot of blessings!
We don’t know if this is the end of the elbow drama, but we pray it is.
Either way, we’ll exercise some of that newly developed perseverance and keep pressing on.