A Family’s Faith Under Adversity
INDIA, a charming nine-year-old girl from Wisconsin, U.S.A., is no stranger to illness. Indeed, she has already undergone three major surgeries and countless smaller procedures. “For six years,” says her mother, Lori, “India’s life revolved around emergency rooms, hospital stays, and visits to the doctor.”
It all began when India was 18 months of age. She started having unusual symptoms, including chronic diarrhea, high fevers, distended stomach, and abnormal weight loss. She also had pain in her abdomen. Every night for two years, little India repeatedly woke up whimpering, moaning, and sometimes even screaming in agony.
While the doctors tried to determine what was wrong, India continued to suffer terribly. “Our baby was basically starving to death,” says Lori. “For more than a year,” adds Mark, India’s father, “we watched our little girl wasting away and didn’t know how to help her. I remember feeling totally helpless one night as Lori and I talked about India’s funeral, which at that point we thought was inevitable.”
In time, it was determined that India had ulcerative colitis—a disease that attacks the lining of the large intestine. She also had primary sclerosing cholangitis, which affects the bile ducts in the liver. These ailments were treatable. However, surgery would be required, and for the ulcerative colitis, drug treatment would be needed. Both conditions require constant monitoring and care during recovery.
It is now more than seven years since India first became ill. Thanks to the care of conscientious physicians, she is well on the road to recovery. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mark and Lori feel that their faith in God’s Word—in particular what it says about sickness, death, and the hope of a future resurrection—has helped them to endure. It has done the same for India. “India has always talked freely about the resurrection hope as described in the Bible,” says Lori. “It is very real to her.”
On one occasion when India was in the playroom at a hospital, she met a young girl whose sister had leukemia. Lori relates what followed: “The girl told India that she was afraid her sister might die. India then told her what death is according to the Bible and that she was not afraid of dying. The next day the girl’s mother came to me with questions. She was amazed that India could speak so freely and fearlessly about such things.”
Mark and Lori have found that the prayers of fellow believers have been an enormous support. “In the past,” Mark says, “when I told people that they would be in my prayers or when I prayed with them, I always wished that there were more I could do. Now I realize how important those prayers with and for others are. Prayer was the single most important thing that could have been done for us in our difficult times. What a loving brotherhood we have!”
Mark also feels that India’s illness has helped them to examine their priorities. “Our outlook on material things has definitely changed,” he says. “How worthless they seem when your child is sick! The worthwhile things in life were—and are—our relationship with Jehovah God and our loving brotherhood.”
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San Diego Children’s Hospital
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India with her family