In 2014, my youngest daughter Stephanie, faced the toughest battle of her life. Headed to dinner on my last night before returning to Minnesota, she was following close behind. After coming to a stop at the corner of Riggin and County Center, her car slowly began rolling through the intersection until coming to rest on the concrete divider separating two lanes of traffic.
Not seeing her headlights behind me, I called to see if she had gone straight, but it went to voicemail. Shortly after, she called back. But it wasn’t Stephanie’s voice I heard. It was that of an older gentleman who said, “Your daughter’s in the middle of the intersection, She’s breathing, so I think she’s ok”.
As my mind struggled to process what had just transpired, concern quickly turned to panic. There were others in the car with me, so as soon as it was safe, I made a u-turn and raced back. As I ran toward the car, the front seat was illuminated by the dome light, and I could see her just sitting there, staring into the distance. A police officer was already on the scene, and as I approached, told me he thought she would be fine, but was disoriented.
We would later learn that Stephanie had suffered a grand mal seizure.
As I knelt next to her, I looked in her eyes and asked if she knew who I was. Afraid of what I might hear, I was relieved when she replied, “You’re my Dad”. I’ve always loved being called “Dad”, but perhaps never more so than in that moment. It was obvious however, that something was terribly wrong.
It wasn’t long before Stephanie was taken by ambulance to Kaweah Delta Hospital. An MRI revealed a spot on the back of her brain, but the ER Doctor was unable to definitively determine the cause, and she was now being transported to Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield, where a neurosurgeon had agreed to take her case.
A tumor was found on the upper backside of Stephanie’s brain, and needed to be removed. This particular suregon “just happened to” be an expert on this exact type of tumor. It was the first of many “just happened to” events we would see over the next few days.
It was also the most fearful days of my life. From the time I realized that if Stephanie’s seizure had occurred just twenty minutes prior to the time it did, both her and Ellie would most likely be dead, fear gripped my soul. Having a seizure after coming to a complete stop at a controlled intersection is much different than having one at 55 miles per hour where telephone poles and orange trees border the road. As much as I wanted to believe everything was going to be ok, I was at times paralyzed by the fear of losing her. I was like the father of the boy possessed by a demon who cried out to Jesus, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 19:24)
I also saw the hand of God move like I’d never seen before, or since. Every obstacle we would face, God had already made provision. At every turn, He was already there. The fervent prayers of family, friends, and strangers held us up at a time when it was difficult to stand. We would all like to have the courage of David, who when confronted by Goliath, not only slayed the giant, but cut off his head using Goliath’s own sword. But sometimes it takes an army, not a slingshot to win the battle.
It wasn’t without pain or suffering, but the weeks and months that followed would see Stephanie well again. What could have been a terrible tragedy became a powerful testimony to the faithfulness of God, and the power of prayer.
But then a few weeks ago, as I was leaving Costco, Sara called.
“Dad”, she said, “I don’t want you to panic. Stephanie is ok, but she had another seizure.”
“Why?”, I thought. “Has the tumor grown back, or is it something else? And why does Stephanie have to go through all of this again!?”
In a few weeks we would learn that yes, the tumor had grown back. Because it was attached to a major vein, the surgeon was unable to remove it completely, and there was chance this could happen. We were hoping it wouldn’t.
As I wrestled with the “why”, I remembered an article I had read recently by Francis Frangipane.
“Goliath Had a Brother”
We all know the story of how King David, who as a young boy, killed Goliath, the giant. But did you know when King David was older, he had to face not only the brother of Goliath, but four of his children as well? (1 Chr 20:5, 2 Sam 21:22) Just because you’ve taken out one giant, doesn’t mean the war is over.
There are many giants in the land.
The enemy will take this opportunity to try and rob you of your victory by convincing you it’s the same battle, but it’s not.
“Just because the current giant you are facing looks like one you defeated in the past, do not accept the lie that you never really won the first battle! By the strength of God’s grace, you trusted the Almighty and conquered your Goliath. The first giant is dead. Satan is masquerading as your former enemy so he can slip past your shield of faith and thus regain entrance into your life. Resist him. Do not accept the lie that you were never delivered. Stand in faith. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4). The living God who helped you conquer Goliath will empower you to overcome his brother as well.” – Francis Frangipane
Stephanie’s surgery is August 16th, 7:15am, at Stanford Health Center. Once again, I’m asking friends, family, and others to join us in prayer. I will be by her side, not with slingshot and stones, but with an army of prayer warriors who aren’t afraid to stand and fight!
No matter how many giants may come.