Are God’s Angels Among Us?
Michael Landon in Highway to Heaven. Tess and Monica from Touched By An Angel. If only God really worked that way…or does he?
We live in a fast-paced, jaded world where talk of miracles, faith, and the very existence of God is often met with derision. However, in four-year-old Savannah’s small corner of the universe, life isn’t like that at all.
Savannah is an only child, doted on by all – especially Andi, the woman who’s raised Savannah as her own. Andi, together with Savannah’s father and their extended families, have lavished love upon this one child as if she were a gift from God. Every child should be so blessed.
Savannah’s third birthday came and went with all the usual trappings. Thanksgiving followed, with counted blessings, and then came the Christmas season. Surrounded by parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, Savannah delighted in the revelry of an extended family that looked forward to the coming year. If only they had known.
Shortly after the beginning of 2010, Savannah spiked a fever. Like any dutiful mother, Andi took Savannah to the doctor. Each temperature flare brought another trip to the doctor and each visit, a new round of meds. But the precious one kept getting worse, not better. Andi, a nurse, refused to settle for an ambiguous, “That’s all we can do,” and took Savannah to Texas Children’s Hospital. Tests soon confirmed their greatest fear: a cancer called Neuroblastoma. The Stage IV disease now had a name, but so did Savannah’s angels.
The moment they knew what Savannah – what they all – were facing, they gave it all to God. Phone calls were made, and the grapevine started growing, adding links to a prayer chain with the potential to circle the globe. Hyperbole? Hardly, not when believers get a bee in their spiritual bonnets. Even Facebook was abuzz. (And still is: www.facebook.com. Search for “Praying for Savannah Jackson”.)
Neuroblastoma is a nasty beast, one that loves little children, but the beast couldn’t see what Savannah saw: God’s watch-care in the form of angels. While lying in her hospital bed one day, she said, “Mama, do you see that?” Savannah pointed at the ceiling, and Andi looked up. “No, baby,” said Andi, “what is it?” The child answered, “That’s January, my new angel.” A few days later, in much the same way, she told her daddy there two Januarys now, not one.
Some might dismiss Savannah’s assertion as imaginary friends, but not Andi or Wayne, Savannah’s daddy, or anyone in their extended family – especially Barbara, Savannah’s grandma. Under the watchful eyes of both Januarys – and those of her extended family – Savannah survived months of tortuous treatment, including surgery and chemotherapy, celebrating her fourth birthday along the way.
The upside of aggressive treatment is that it can kill cancer; the downside is a compromised immune system. Savannah had good days and bad days, some far worse than others, and multiple stays in the hospital. As the tumor shrank, Savannah’s army of prayer warriors grew, with more troops added daily.
The worst setback was a little over a week ago, and they had to rush her to ICU. Almost comatose and unresponsive, Savannah lived on life support and prayers as her family held fast to their faith.
Death lingered in the doorway while angels hovered overhead with Savannah’s tiny hand reaching toward them.
Three days later, Savannah rallied enough to leave the ICU. In her private room supported by oxygen, she fell into a fitful slumber. Barbara, being a good mother hen, shooed Andi and Wayne home to shower and rest. Barbara pulled a chair close to Savannah’s bed and glanced above the child’s head. Savannah’s eyes fluttered open and in a weak voice she said, “Only one January is here.”
Barbara caressed the child’s hair. “Where’s the other one?”
“At home with Mommy,” Savannah answered.
Savannah knew her grandma’s love was strong enough to take the place of an angel. Perhaps she also knew her mama’s weariness would warrant an angel’s care.
Does God really send angels to watch over us? Most certainly, he does, but we will never hear the flutter of their wings unless we listen with childlike faith.
Savannah Jackson’s journey is far from finished, and while her sleep is restless and her body is ravaged, she draws comfort from those gathered around her. And from those who hover above.
Joni Bain Reese
29 July 10
A footnote: Barbara is my first cousin. Via email, she has this to say about Savannah’s angels: “Joni, I can feel their presence in her room. As sick as she is, I feel their presence and am comforted as soon as I walk in her room.”
The latest update from Savannah’s grandma, Barbara (B. G.) via the Caring Bridge website:
Savannah was awake most of the day today. She complained all day of hurting….She asked us all through the day to “Push the button” for her pain medication.
We like to think that the fact that she is Ms. Cranky Pants is because she is getting better. Her ANC (absolute neutrophil count) was zero. On Monday it was 30. On Tuesday it was 100. Today it is 140. It has to go up to 500 before she can go home.
Savannah is still on TPN (nutrition by I.V.) and will be until she starts eating again. She hasn’t eaten in about 10 days. The good news today was that when the nurse turned off the oxygen, Savannah did fine without it. After a couple of hours, Mama removed the nasal canula and the tape that held it on her face. Savannah told B.G., “Mama hurt my face!” and asked B.G. to kiss both cheeks. That made it all better. And, she looks so much better without that on her face!
B.G. and her mother (Grandma Mimi) had a discussion by phone this morning about people “standing in the gap.” In Ezekiel 22:30 the Lord said to Ezekiel, “So, I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found no one.”
This we know with certainty. There are so many people “standing in the gap”. Savannah’s prayer warriors stand before God on behalf of Savannah and us on a daily basis. They continue to plug the breach against the enemy throughout Savannah’s journey to healing. God bless each of you who are praying and staying with us through this long journey.
A note from Joni:
I wrote “Are God’s Angels Among Us” last week from my husband’s hospital room. He had double hernia surgery July 20 and was hospitalized again July 22 – 24 with a post-op infection. It was hard to hear the rustle of wings with the TV blaring, but each night after the nurses came to in to check his vitals, I’m sure I felt the brush of an angel’s wing as I nodded off to sleep.