If someone had told me a few months ago that it was possible to give thanks for suffering and to praise God in the greatest sorrow for his wondrous plan for our lives, I would have thought it impossible, especially for us, ordinary people.
Our story started on 9 April 2014, when we took our two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to the hospital in a serious condition. Since the time she was born, she had been a healthy girl, hardly ever getting sick, so it was that much more of a shock to us. However, we hoped it was nothing dangerous, that we would go right back home from the hospital, and that it was only a temporary crisis.
However, it turned out that this was only the beginning of our difficult journey, which has now been going on for more than half a year. During that time, we’ve spent seven weeks in the hospital, and the diagnosis which they established only after five months was hard for us to accept. Our daughter has an autoimmunological liver infection. This is a disease from which one never recovers completely; one can only be glad that once in a while it’s better. Our story takes us to a medical, hospital world, which is still linked to God’s plan.
In the first days, a great surprise for us was the reaction of our friends when they learned that we were at the hospital. They ordered an abundance of masses for us, and I was receiving endless text messages with assurances of prayers and support. Everybody was asking whether we needed anything or whether they could bring us dinner. Our family was indispensable. They were praying for us, and that prayer was distinctly necessary when the difficult times came, with unanswered questions. Thanks to them, we found the strength to say “Jesus, we trust in You”. I remember one evening when we entrusted Emily to God with the words of the act of entrustment written by Fr Don Dolindo Ruotolo. We tried to continuously renew the words of this act, and when the most sever threat came, we repeated: “Lord, she is yours, take care of her”. That was our succour. Thanks to that, we were peaceful and certain that our daughter was under the very best care.
A few days before Emily took sick, we found out that our second child was due to come into the world. Unfortunately, on 18 May, it turned out that our child had died in the ninth week. At the same time, the decision was taken that Emily should have an operation. The most difficult moment was the biopsy of her liver, on 9 June. The day before, we had been at a prayer vigil led by Fr Adam Szustak. Going to the vigil was a difficult decision, because our daughter was just being prepared for the surgery. However, we decided to leave her with my mother and we went to pray. I was convinced in my heart that we had been asking for her return to health for long enough. I wanted to show Jesus that I loved Him and that this was more important than the hospital or the suffering we were going through. The vigil started with the Holy Mass. Fr Adam’s sermon was directed straight at us. He talked about suffering, about spending time in hospital, and about how God is close to people who daily take up their crosses and follow Him faithfully.
Our daughter has an autoimmunological liver infection. This is a disease from which one never recovers completely; one can only be glad that once in a while it’s better. Our story takes us to a medical, hospital world, which is still linked to God’s plan
After the Holy Mass, I called my mother to ask about my daughter. In the receiver, I couldn’t hear anything except the frightened crying of my daughter. Hearing that, I nearly fell into a panic, and was just about to head back to the hospital. But I stood in front of the church and called to Jesus to help me and suggest what I should do. After a couple of minutes, my mothercalled and told me that the situation was under control, and that we should stay at the vigil. I returned for the conference, which also inscribed itself deeply into my memory. We heard how people who looked at us with faith should see Jesus. After the conference, the praise began. I prayed, praising Jesus for this suffering that we were going through. I thanked Him for the illness and for the plan that he had for us that was so difficult to comprehend. I prayed for the intentions of all our friends who had asked for our prayers, and even though my heart was completely filled with thoughts of our daughter, I didn’t pray for her health; I knew she was immersed in the love of Jesus. During this prayer of praise, I heard unexpectedly in my heart the words: “She’ll be okay!” I was so happy, but I was also terrified of those words. I started to think that I wanted so badly for my daughter to recover that my subconscious was suggesting these things to me. I dismissed the idea and continued praying.
Suffering teaches us, gives us a certain dignity, sensitises us to the suffering of others
At a certain point, the priest took the Lord Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament and walked to the middle of the church. The church was so packed with people that there wasn’t even room to kneel. But at one point my husband said: “Come on, we should go and venerate the Lord Jesus”. We went out into the middle, merging with the crowd, and the priest with the Lord Jesus was just a few steps behind us. Then, unexpectedly, during the blessing, the priest put the Lord Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament in our hands. Holding Him, I once again felt a pressing in my chest, and I heard that voice telling me: “She will be okay. Believe it!” My heart was suddenly filled with such love that I can’t put it into words. I could give up the whole world just to have that love forever. Everything lost all significance: the illness, the suffering, the fear – Jesus was the only important thing.
After these events, Emily’s test results began to improve. Currently, our daughter is under the care of a very good doctor, and her health is stable. We have been changed by the experience. Suffering teaches us, gives us a certain dignity, sensitises us to the suffering of others and expands our capacities to achieve things that previously weren’t possible for us. We learned to understand what “selfless love” really means. We overcame limits. We are now praying our fifth Novena of Pompeii, which has led us to a new and very powerful love for the Virgin Mary. Suffering is a gift which, when we face it in unison with the Lord Jesus, has the power to change peoples’ lives. We are experiencing these changes. Our friend Jesus gives us strength to trust that “she’ll be okay!”
Magdalena and Dariusz