“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” (Isaiah 35: 5-6)
When we brought Daniel home from the orphanage last October he was so unresponsive, we weren’t sure if he could see or hear. It was obvious that he couldn’t walk or talk, and we had no idea if he would regain these skills after his severe brain infection last September.
When Charly and I visited Daniel in the local hospital at the end of his 19 day stay, I noticed his little pair of red shoes under his bed and the verse came to mind “How Beautiful Are the Feet of Those Who Bring Good News.” (Isaiah 52:7) We didn’t know if Daniel’s feet would walk again, but we believed that God had a unique purpose for his life. We didn’t know what God was doing in allowing him to get so sick just before we adopted him, but we believed that He had ordained every day of his life.
We knew that God could, instantly or over time, heal him completely and restore him to his pre-sickness state, but we didn’t know if that was His plan or not. Wait and trust. Continue to move forward in his adoption in the midst of all the unknowns.
It was A Sharp Turn in the Path that we weren’t expecting, two days after our file got locked with David and Daniel’s, and we thought we had crossed the finish line in our fight for these two boys.
In these past six months, we have seen God use Daniel’s illness and recovery in all of our lives as a way for us to grow deeper in our faith and to see His hand at work in ways we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. And we can testify that God is good. All the time. In sickness and in health. In good times and in bad. In the midst of trials and when life is smooth sailing. God works all things together for good.
When we were driving across the US last month, we sang along with a praise CD, “Our God is greater. Our God is stronger. Our God is higher than any other.” And I remembered that these were the words I sang in my heart the day we waited to see if the one in authority in Beijing would give us special approval to get matched directly with David and Daniel. It seemed the best way to us. The shortest way. But God clearly closed that door, even though He could have opened it for us. We knew He was greater, stronger, and higher than the authority in Beijing. But the way God chose for us was Not the Shortest Way.
The next line in the song is “Our God is healer. Awesome in power. Our God. Our God.” If God had given us the shortest way, we could have brought David and Daniel home earlier and Daniel might not have gotten sick. We don’t know. And we will never know. If so, we wouldn’t have known God as healer in the same way that He has allowed us to experience. His awesome power has been clearly displayed in Daniel’s life.
In December in Denver we took Daniel to a pediatric neurologist. We saw her again two months later for a follow up visit. She was amazed by how much improvement he had made by February (he had started talking, regained bowel and bladder control, was sleeping better, and was more independent…) She asked us what we thought the reason for his progress was. Charly said that we are people of faith and that we and many others have been praying for Daniel’s recovery. We believe that God has brought healing into his life.
The doctor told us that his brain MRI showed many scattered spots of brain tissue loss. One of the areas deep in his brain affected by his infection indicates that he should have a movement disorder. She said this was most surprising to her in his recovery: he doesn’t have one anymore. There is no medical explanation. Only God’s healing. You can see what Daniel’s movement disorder was like in the video clips I posted of his Two Months of Change from October to December. He is such a different child now than he was then.
After spending three months in the US, when we returned to our Lanzhou apartment, we discovered that Daniel didn’t remember much during our time here. We still have the wheelchair we borrowed from the orphanage folded up in our living room. We told him how he used to not be able walk and we pushed him around in the wheelchair. We had to carry him up our nine flights of stairs. He used to not be able to feed himself. We used to use a scarf to tie him to his chair to keep him stable while we fed him because he was in constant motion. He used to be our silent little boy. Now he has his own sense of humor and can carry on simple conversations.
A few days ago when I was reading a Bible story to Daniel about Jesus healing the lame, he looked over at the wheelchair and said that he used to not be able to walk either. Yes, Jesus healed him too. Just like during the days when he walked on this earth. God’s miraculous healing is part of Daniel’s story. Part of the good news he can share, through his words—because the one who was mute can now speak—and through his new life.
Zechariah was mute throughout the course of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, and when he could speak again after John was born, the first words out of his mouth were praise to God and faith in His purposes for John’s life.
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people…And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1: 68, 76-79)
In the days and years to come, may God give Daniel a growing faith, a heart that overflows in praise to Him, a deeper understanding of His purposes that He can then share with others. And may He guide Daniel’s feet into the path of peace, accomplishing all of His purposes in and through his life.