August — my least favorite month. It’s hot, the kids go back to school and we celebrate Anna’s birthday. I know I should feel happy about my daughter’s birthday, but I seldom do. You see, Anna will most likely lose her hearing by her thirteenth birthday. That’s what the doctors have told us. Diagnosed at two years old with a condition known as Large Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome, Anna has never had the gift of hearing things clearly.
Yet, she listens better than anyone I know.
I will never forget the first time we put hearing aids on her. As I walked out of the hospital with her in hand, the pink hearing aids placed above both ears did not prevent her from skipping. As soon as we exited the hospital, she stopped. For the first time she heard unfamiliar sounds. The noise of the cars passing overwhelmed her. The sound of an airplane brought her confusion. She kept looking around trying to figure out where all the commotion came from. The dog barking across the street only magnified her fears. “I’m scared Mommy,” she cried.
I scooped her up and whispered Joshua 1:9 to her. “Remember,” I said, “courage means to do something even though it scares us. We need to act brave. God has not left you.”
“He’s here in the hospital?” she asked.
“Yes, He loves hospitals,” I responded.
“For all the sick people, right?”
“Right.” I smiled.
I often wonder how Joshua must have felt, looking out ready to conquer the promise land? He had heard God’s instructions, but instead of letting his fears overcome him, he remembered the words “Only strong and courageous.” He listened to God’s message. He understood God’s omnipresence and power. And he trusted His instructions.
Anna’s birthday reminds me of the future ahead of us. I dread her birthdays. Yet, I do my best to make them special. Every year I wonder about her hearing loss. And every year I face the same fear.
A couple of years ago, Anna noticed my struggle. She waited until bedtime to ask me about it. I told her even though God had given her seven wonderful years, I felt anxious she would lose more hearing.
“Oh,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about that. I’ve prayed and I know that no matter what happens God is right here with me.”
“Oh really,” I responded.
“Plus if I do lose all my hearing it won’t matter,” she said.
“Why is that?”I asked.
“Well, when I get to heaven, Jesus is going to touch my ears and make them all better,” she replied.
“I’m not scared,” she added. “And neither should you. Remember Mom, always strong and courageous.”
Yesterday Anna reached her tenth birthday with no significant hearing loss yet. She jumped in bed with me early in the morning and reminded me, “...only strong and courageous, Mom.”
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9).
Questions: What fears paralyze you today? Are you listening to God’s promises?