There’s no secret of my beliefs and of my conviction of the truthfulness of God’s word. And thank God for it. And I suppose by leading with that sentence I’m warning those of you who may not believe as I do. But please understand my intentions for those of you who continue to read this to the end. I believe in a living and loving God who is no respecter of persons. What He promises to do for one person according to His word (the bible), He will do for all. He is good all the time.
I’m not sure if my readers know what my family went through the past few days, and I realize I still need to work on part 3 of my Unlimited Potential blog series (that sounds so professional), but I want to reflect on some things I’ve experienced. Last Wednesday my son came down with a fever for which my wife took him to the health clinic. He tested positive for Type A flu and was prescribed some medication (along with the rest of the family). This seemed to set into motion a flurry of events I hope to never forget. Yes, you read that correctly. I do not want to forget it, for I believe much good will come of it.
Thursday morning at almost 5 am Joshua woke up and lay outside of our bedroom door. We got up and checked his temperature which was above 102 degrees, so we gave him some medicine. We then let him sleep in the bed with us. Due to Joshua having the flu we had to close the daycare Thursday and Friday. Courtnee filled in as office manager at a local real estate office that day which obviously left me on kid duty. By morning Joshua was still battling a fever but seemed to be content. He eventually ate breakfast but around noon he threw up. Then as the afternoon went on his fever spiked some and he began laboring with his breathing. He also developed a cough that sounded like Croup. My wife and I had been texting back and forth along with our friend Connie who is a nurse practitioner at the clinic.
Thank God for a Spirit-led nurse practitioner! Connie felt the Lord prompting to check on Joshua, so she left her work and drove up to our home. The moment she saw his labored breathing and the fact that his lungs were retracting, she immediately said we needed to get him to the ER. I grabbed my sweatshirt, a jacket for Joshua, and away we went.
Up to this point, I had been praying over Joshua in accordance with scripture and declaring what God says in His word about Joshua being healed by the stripes of Jesus (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24). I also was putting action to what the bible teaches about praying for the sick and seeing them recover (Mark 16:18, James 5:14). So to be honest, I was confident that Joshua would be just fine. As a team member of my church’s hospital visitation ministry and being involved with overseas missions, I have witnessed many miracles brought about by prayer and the power of God. But this time would be different. This time it was my son and not someone else’s.
An hour after we arrived at the hospital, Joshua’s condition became worse. This is where an intense battle began within me. It is very simple for people to be mindful of this world we live in. We experience it daily. We smell the scents, hear the sounds, feel the textures, take in the sights, and taste the flavors of this life. We are constantly inundated with media and physical stimulus that ever remind us of the physical world we live in and the emotions tied to the things and people here. When someone asks how we are doing, most of us say something that is connected to how we feel, what kind of circumstances have been going on during our day, or how our relationships stand at the moment. Much of how people respond or react to what goes on in their lives is based on emotions.
Yet the bible says we live by faith and not by sight (Romans 1:17, Hebrews 10:38, Galatians 2:20). As Christians, we are to live a life of complete and total trust in God. Faith can be defined as a conviction of the truthfulness of God and His word. And that faith or conviction leads to a hope that is a confident expectation of the things we cannot see or the results we expect based on what God has promised in His word (Hebrews 11:1). The book of Acts says that in Christ we live and move and have our being. So in order to truly have faith in God, one must know the will of God and what it means to be “in Christ.” This is only known through understanding and believing the bible (Colossians 1:9, 2 Peter 1:3) .
When a person begins to learn these truths they inevitably discover there is a whole other kingdom that operates by what I can only refer to as higher laws and principles. It is at this place where a person who knows and chooses to believe what the bible says, and/or believes in God often experiences conflict. They may read a promise of health or joy or peace, but the reality of life on this planet seems to negate what they read. Questions about God being real or loving or omnipotent or the like begin to arise.
The truth, though, is that the reality of this world is actually not the highest reality. The seen realm was made by the unseen realm (Hebrews 11:3, Romans 4:17). Before this earth existed, God was. Before there were physical laws there were spiritual laws. Of course the bible does not say that what we see, feel, and hear is not real. What it does say, though, is that the truth of God’s word supersedes this natural realm. Therefore, when I began to see and take in all of my surroundings, I had a choice to make. Just what was I going to believe? Which set of laws was I going to appeal to and follow?
When Joshua’s condition became worse the doctor informed me they needed to insert a breathing tube through his mouth, down through his trachea and into his lungs and take control of his breathing for him. Even if Joshua’s airwaves, which had been constricted, opened up, the fact that he had been struggling to breath at this point for a few hours meant he could simply stop breathing altogether out of pure exhaustion and die. It was pure horror to watch my son struggling so hard to breath. Never in my life had I experienced anything like this. He is my son. He is my blood. Praying for other people is different. There just isn’t the same emotional connection, and I was nearly at a point of losing complete control of my emotions.Thoughts and memories were suddenly flooding my mind from all kinds of angles and perspectives. Some were good, but most were negative. It’s fair to say, the confidence I had earlier in the day was shaken.
You see, I’ve had very good friends go through some horrific situations. I’ve seen wh0 I believed to be giants of faith die of cancer and experience terrible tragedies. I’ve witnessed people go through things that raise questions that cannot be answered. So do I begin to meditate on those negative experiences and begin asking those unanswerable questions which bring doubt rather than think on God’s promises? Do I focus on the monitors, tubes, cords, sounds, gasps for air, and my son struggling to breathe because he is basically suffocating to death? What thoughts, memories, emotions, or knowledge in that moment am I going to give in to? Just what am I going to choose to believe?
Please, do not hear what I am not saying. I’m not talking about positive thinking. I’m not talking about denying reality or ignoring the facts. We still took Joshua to the hospital. We will continue to have him take his medication. We will be sure to do the natural things we need to do, but we will ultimately put our trust in God’s kingdom, not this earthly kingdom. I’m talking about believing in the words of a living and loving God who made some incredible and amazing promises about how we can and should live our lives. Without Him being real, this blog, the bible, and the overall Christian faith is at best pointless and at worst a lie. If Jesus is not who He said He is, all this is for not.
When I was nearly overwhelmed with the commotion, the thoughts, and the memories of past tragedies, I removed myself from the room and found a private bathroom. The situation was absolutely dire. Everything that was going on pointed to a bad scenario. It all cried out, “Fear, doubt, hopelessness, helplessness, anger, panic, and death.” And none of those scenarios were acceptable! When I reached the restroom, I locked the door and called out to God. Right then and right there I made a decision to put my whole trust in God. I chose to recall all of the words of God and Christ that I had learned straight from His book and trust that He would perform them just as He promised. Also, because I understood what God said in Hosea 4:6 that His people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge, I asked that if there were any areas where I lacked understanding or was ignorant of His word that His mercy would cover me. I spoke out loud as many scriptures as I could remember that promised healing, life, blessing, and hope. I spoke out what I believe God declared concerning Joshua that he would be a leader of God’s people. I prayed that He would continue to give the doctors wisdom so they would do exactly what was needed to be done when it needed to be done. I chose to believe in God and the laws of His kingdom which supersede the laws of this kingdom.
It was at that moment that peace came. My emotions were still a wreck, but there was a sense of peace that was beyond understanding (Philippians 4:7). My focus was where it needed to be, and from this point on I was sure to take all the negative thoughts entering my mind captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). I was like Abraham where he did not consider his own body being dead and the deadness of Sarah’s womb but instead chose to believe God that what He had promised He was also able to perform (Romans 4:18-21).
After inserting the tube into Joshua’s throat, Flight For Life took about 45 minutes to arrive and nearly two and a half hours to get him transferred to the plane (they were very particular about making sure everything was correct with his ventilator). He and I were then flown to Denver where we were transferred again (Joshua to a helicopter, me to a cab) for our final ride to Children’s Hospital.
Once I arrived at Children’s Hospital late Thursday night, in many, many respects Joshua’s condition still looked grim. But Jesus! He said in the book of Mark chapter 11 verse 24, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” I began asking what each of the numbers on the monitors represented. There was one for heart rate, one for blood pressure, one for the amount of oxygen he was receiving, and some others I don’t remember (sorry, I have a sanguine personality). Then I asked the staff at what levels they needed to be.
With that information, along with the knowledge of God’s promises, Courtnee and I began to send out prayer requests that Joshua’s vitals would return to normal and his overall health would be restored at a supernatural rate. I had already been asking friends to pray Psalm 91 over him, and after tapping into a very large network of friends and family (we think we had over a thousand people praying on behalf of Joshua) things began to happen. The best way to explain what happened is to list some of the updates we posted on Facebook.
“Joshua arrived safely (at Children’s Hospital). The doctors are going to leave him on the ventilator so his body can rest and keep him sedated because this is all really scary for a three-year old. He has woken up and started pulling his IVs and tubes so they have to keep an eye on him. Please keep believing for his airways to clear, the swelling to go away and the junk to clear out of his lungs. Deep breathes. It is still pretty early and overwhelming so sorry this is the best update I can give you all. Thank you for your love and support. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27 NKJV)”
“Josh is improving. It’s an intentionally slow process by the doctors but all his numbers are good. He’s breathing some but the doctors still have the breathing machine doing most of the work simply to help his lungs relax which in turn helps his heart relax ultimately allowing his body to relax and heal from the flu, etc. but ultimately the Spirit of God is working a healing and a cure in Joshy’s body.”
Here is where things get exciting. Remember, we prayed to a living God and had various friends and family praying prayers of faith and power to the same God that Joshua would heal at a supernatural rate. So on Friday night we had this to post:
“Well Joshua didn’t get the memo that he is supposed to be heavily sedated and have a tube in his mouth until Sunday. He just sat up and removed it and the whole team of people came flying in. Mommy and Daddy now need oxygen ourselves! New game plan…according to Josh we are going to put an oxygen mask on him, wake him up and see how he does breathing on his own! Be in agreement with us that his lungs are full of air, the swelling in his throat to go away, and deep healthy breathes!!!”
People may call me crazy, but this is where I believe God truly showed His power. When Joshua sat up and disconnected his breathing tube, the first thought I had was, “He is responding to God healing his body.” All I could do was grin. I knew what was going on! It wasn’t long after Joshua began breathing on his own that his blood gas levels improved and by the morning were perfect! The nurse said had Joshua been on the ventilator even until Sunday those numbers would not have been that good. God had healed Joshua’s ability to breath, and apparently he knew it.
All throughout Friday Joshua rapidly improved to the point that he was fully breathing on his own without any oxygen at all (they still had the little hose with the prongs that fit in his nostrils that you might see someone wearing out and about with their oxygen tanks). Had Joshua not disconnected his breathing tube, we wouldn’t be able to post these updates:
“First off, God honors prayers. And thank you all who have prayed! We were praying that he would have a speedy recovery and that is exactly what is happening. After Joshua decided he didn’t want the breathing tube anymore and disconnected it after wrestling with his tubes and stuff, the doctors discovered he was breathing better without it. His blood gas levels improved immediately to the point that they are now (6 am) perfect. He has been wearing a mask that blows O2 into his lungs but he has been breathing completely on his own. And just now the nurse said that they plan on weaning him off the mask today and most likely he will be in a recovery/patient room and out of ICU. That would be two days ahead of schedule! Oh the goodness and power of God! It pays to know and to stand on the promises of God!”
One of the most enjoyable moments in ICU was when some doctors and nurses were having a pow-wow outside of our room discussing his case. Apparently I must have said something to one of the doctors early on about Joshua recovering quickly because she said to me, “You were right about your son. He must know something we don’t.” I don’t even remember what I said, but all I could do was thank God as they spoke of what was truly a miracle happening before ours and their eyes.
Around midnight on Saturday Joshua was transferred to a patient/recovery room out of ICU. When we arrived the nurses had already heard of Joshua’s amazing story. It was almost as though he was some kind of celebrity. God is so good! We got settled in and went to sleep. In the morning Courtnee posted more updates on Facebook.
“Good morning everyone! Late last night Joshua got moved out of PICU. Since yesterday afternoon he has not had any oxygen! He was a bit restless last night but he napped on and off during the day all day.”
“We aren’t completely certain of the time we leave but are being discharged any moment. So we will be home this afternoon or early evening. Joshua is on some medication and we will keep the daycare closed until Thursday per the doctor’s recommendation, and want to be respectful of the children’s families we watch (in terms of removing any potential fears from their minds). Joshua is full of energy and wonder as he keeps looking out our 8th story window observing birds, people walking around, cars driving by, and the mountains in the distance. We are very happy to be returning home today and continually thankful that we serve a living and loving God!”
“One final thought and encouragement to those of you who have followed our experience with Joshua these past few days. Please do not let what happened to our boy cause you to fear. Never base your beliefs on other people’s experiences. Base your beliefs on the infallible word of God.
Below are just a few of hundreds of scriptures for you to look up and strengthen your faith. God is good to everyone all of the time. It’s just a matter of learning how to take what He spoke from the heavens and have it become a reality in our lives here on earth.
Courtnee and I love you all and are incredibly thankful for your support, prayers, encouraging words, visits, calls, and the like. God abundantly bless you all!
(2 Timothy 1:7, Proverbs 3:8, Psalm 107:20, John 10:10, Isaiah 53:5, Psalm 91, 1 Peter 2:24, Galatians 3:13-14 then reference Deuteronomy 28, Matthew 8:1-3, Hebrews 13:8)”
“We are out of here! Just got discharged! — at The Children’s Hospital of Denver.”
Glory to God for His goodness in our lives!
TACKLING SOME TOUGH QUESTIONS
It’s at this point I want to tackle what I’m certain are questions many people wrestle with. We experienced a miracle. Joshua was released two days ahead of what the doctors said would be a best-case scenario. But while we experienced our miracle, there were dozens of other children in ICU that may or may not have experienced the same thing. In fact, when we left Children’s Hospital I teared up. I realized that there are families that enter that hospital with their children but exit without them. I do not want to say that I have all the answers, but I know the One who does. And from everything that I have gathered from God’s word, He does not play favorites. God did not choose to perform a miracle for Joshua and turn around and say no to another child. Anyone that came to Jesus on the basis of true faith in Him received exactly what they asked of Him.
My hope for anyone that will read this or hear our story is to understand that God is no respecter of persons. What He promised in His word for one He promised for all. All the promises of God are yes and so be it in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Don’t get caught up in what people say, or what you see, or how you feel. Look to the word of God as your template for the picture of what should be in your heart and mind. Let the words of Christ dwell in you richly so that whatever you desire and ask of God will be given to you (John 15:7). Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 that if we would seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness that we would receive everything that we need. There are laws and rules that govern the kingdom of God. God operates according to the very laws He set up in His kingdom because ultimately they are a reflection of His very nature. Dive into the scripture references I’ve listed in this blog and become a student of His word, will, and nature. It matters what we believe. What we believe could be the difference between life and death.
I hesitate to offer thanks to those involved in this process only because I do not want to miss anyone, but I also want to give honor where honor is due. First off, to say “thank you” just isn’t enough. You, Connie Berglund, may very well have saved my son’s life. Thank you for being obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit! You exemplify what a nurse should be in your care and love for your patients.
Secondly, all of the doctors and nurses beginning with Grand River Hospital, Flight For Life, and Children’s Hospital were stellar! The professionalism, sensitivity, humor, calmness, and excellence was very, very evident. I have zero complaints.
Specifically, I want to say thank you to my sister in-law Amy Campagna-Vashus for driving down with Courtnee and staying for an evening. She provided an amazing amount of peace and comfort and support for us and especially for Courtnee. She didn’t even know how she was going to get back home.
Enter Geir Sverdrup. He drove from Rifle all the way to Denver and picked up Amy and took her home. Thank you, Geir, for such dedication to your friends.
And thank you goes out to Scott Robles for visiting us at Children’s Hospital. It was very much appreciated and good to reconnect. We look forward to more time together in the future.
Thank you’s are needed for Jack and Kristy Kirkpatrick and their clan for taking in Hannah and keeping her entertained while we were away. Thank you Pastor Mark and Tasha for the balloons and giraffe sent to the hospital for Joshua, and thank you to the Hospital Visitation Ministry of New Creation Church for your prayers of faith!
And of course, thank you to everyone that prayed for us, sent texts, called, responded to our Facebook posts, and cleaned our home while we were gone. The support we received was overwhelming and spanned across this country. We are connected with the greatest people on the planet.