Though Justin has been tried and tested, I am seeing God transform him into a “tree planted by the water.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8) There is still pain and fear in his life, but as we continue to put our hope in the Lord, He shows me beautiful glimpses of this molding and shaping that is taking place in Justin’s heart. God is making one tough kid.
Today he played in the first soccer game of the season with his bro, Michael. Aside from the telling lack of hair, you would not have known Justin is a pediatric cancer patient. He played just as well and as hard as all the other kids.
Justin’s doctor and I have both observed that his feet have turned a bit outward and his walk doesn’t appear natural and normal. His doctor noted that this is a common response in childhood cancer patients because a certain chemo medication called Vincristine causes foot pain and numbness. This is also most likely being exacerbated by Justin trying to overcompensate due to the lack of strength in his legs. Justin seemed to have lost most of his muscle tone when leukemia first attacked the bone marrow in his feet, causing him to lose ability to bear his own weight for several weeks.
Justin’s legs became more sturdy as his feet healed, but he still isn’t as strong as he was before cancer. (Well, physically.) Justin will be evaluated, again, by a physical therapist to determine what we can do to correct and improve his gait.
So why am I bringing this up on a day of victories on the soccer field?
Despite “incorrect” gait, visible central line (to me) in his neck and lack of hair (clearly looking different than other kids), Justin walked, confidently, onto the field and hustled after the ball again and again.
Now this next part is good and another example of how God cares and is in control of all the little details of His children’s lives. Even on the soccer field.
It turns out that Justin and Michael’s coach is the husband of a long-time friend and blog reader. He was already familiar with Justin’s illness which meant no awkward, embarrassing (for Justin) discussions between his mom and the coach about possibly needing rests and more water breaks than other kids. Nope. Not today. God made the way smooth and very “normal” for Justin. We were so pleasantly surprised.
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8
Justin refused those extra breaks we offered. And I didn’t push him to take them. Today, he wasn’t a cancer patient. Today, he got to just be a kid, complete with chicken nuggets and fries after the game.
Grace be with you, my friends.