written by Mrs. Wanda Cape
There was a preacher I heard who has a great affliction say, “God gave me a 'gift' when He chose to afflict me.” I began to ponder on the thought of how an affliction could be considered a gift. Never before had the thought occurred to me that the affliction of our daughter, Heather, might be a gift that the Lord was giving us. But, I must say, I do agree with the statement the preacher made. The Lord, too, gave our family a gift when He chose to allow our daughter, Heather, to have an affliction. Remember, “…to the hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet.” Very early into our marriage, the Lord put a desire in the hearts of my husband and I and we hungered to serve Him. According to Proverbs, when you are hungry, even things that are bitter will taste sweet to you. Is your soul hungry to be used of the Lord? Are you willing to be broken in order to be used?
Have you ever thought of the gift of eternal life that God has offered to us through the suffering, and death of the very Son of God? Jesus’ death was very bitter, but with His death came eternal life to all who believe. We have probably never really thought about all that our Saviour went through for us, yet, we are excited about the gift that came from His suffering and His death; the gift of a home in Heaven.
What gift has the Lord brought into your life for you to demonstrate to others that you have a wonderful Saviour? Is your burden that you have lost a child to death? Do you or a loved one have an affliction or an incurable disease? How is your spirit? Do you realize what the Lord has placed in your lap? This trial that the Lord has brought into your life is a gift. Can you see your burden as an opportunity to bring God glory? Use your burden and the experiences that come with your hurting heart to help others.
Writing about the grace of God is an overwhelming subject, because His grace is sufficient and unique to each of us based on what we need in times of trial. Our need just happened to come into our lives in the year of 1994 as my husband accepted his first pastorate and we entered full time ministry. I would like to say to you that my husband and I have always had an excellent spirit during the illness of our daughter, but that wouldn't be an honest statement. We have learned that God's grace is a gift that comes to us in a package He has designed and is given to us many times when we least expect it, but when we are in desperate need of its arrival.
It was Saturday, July 15, 1994, and we had just gotten home from soul-winning. We had been having a wonderful day! Then...within a matter of moments, everything changed... We were having company over for supper and our middle daughter, Jenah, jumped off of our front porch to welcome them. She was holding on to the hand of one of the ladies from our church who had already arrived, and she pulled the lady down on top of her. Well, Jenah's leg was broken. Her dad took her to the living room of our home and was trying to calm her and bring her comfort until the ambulance arrived. A few minutes later, Heather, who was 9 at the time, came into the kitchen as she asked, “Mom, why is the room spinning?” Her eyes were jerking from side to side and her head was turning to the left. Up until this point, I had only witnessed seeing one person have a seizure in my lifetime. What was happening with Heather wasn’t anything like I had ever witnessed before. I was overcome with fear. I screamed for Bro. Cape to come quickly. He ran and caught her just in time before she collapsed and hit the floor. We had no idea what was happening. She was having her very first prolonged, complex partial seizure that lasted about 45 minutes. This seizure was the beginning of a disorder that would cause thousands and thousands of seizures, and the introduction to two rare diseases. Unannounced to us, God was giving us a gift on this day, and His will for Heather’s life slowly began unfolding...
In 1996, Heather's seizure disorder had advanced to the point she was having over 200 a day. Brain surgery was needed to remove sections of the left side of the brain to stop the cycle. It was during this six month hospital stay that our family was able to see several people come to know the Lord as their Saviour, including a nurse named Robin, whom Heather led to the Lord herself. This surgery was successful, however a few months later Heather's seizures gradually came back.
In 2000, a vagus nerve stimulator was implanted to try and control her seizures, but they never completely went away. Doctor visits, medications, MRI's, EEG's, seizure after seizure, surgeries, fall after fall, broken teeth, collapsed hip, broken ankle, hospitalizations, test after test after test and each seemed to lead to a dead end road. Through each phase of Heather's illness there have been times of questions? "We are trying to serve you, Lord, with all of our hearts, WHY is this happening? What have we done wrong???" "Will the seizures ever stop?"
In 2007, the seizures are recorded at over 100 per day and surgery is not an option. Prayers are going up for her, our family and the doctors all across the nation. The Doctor says, "The only alternative to stop this cycle of seizures is a medication known to cause death."
We were waiting on one last test before we decided to give the medicine. That last test confirmed that Heather's brain is constantly firing seizure activity, though the seizure may not always manifest itself outwardly so that we can see it, she is having constant activity when she is walking, talking, sleeping, etc. Through much prayer, we agreed to administer the medication and the Lord intervened! Praise the Lord, the seizures stopped outwardly, and three weeks later the medication had to be stopped due to an allergic reaction. When we agreed to administer the medicine, the Lord used the seriousness of this situation to convict the doctor of his sin and he too received Christ as his Saviour! With 19 years of watching our daughter suffer, I can honestly say that God's grace has always arrived right on time. With each tear that has fallen and each question we have asked, I have found that when I turned to the Lord for strength and peace, it was amazing how He brought me the comfort to face each day. When I tried to handle her illness on my own, I couldn't. I couldn't handle it by myself. I wasn't strong enough, nor wise enough. As I began to see the Lord use our burden to bring some lost soul to Him, I had an answer to the suffering and it brought me comfort in knowing He chose Heather!