Remembering God’s Grace and Glory
Christine Chen—Baldwin Park, California, USA
In November 2007 a cold
paralyzed half of my six-year-old daughter’s face and took away her smile and
ability to blink. Through this incident, we learned that events such as these
actions are not so easily managed—they need the grace of God.
Katie caught a cold during the
first few days of November, but she got over it soon and seemed to be back to
her regular self. When we had guests over on the following Sunday, I was
preoccupied with the preparations for dinner and didn’t really have time to pay
special attention to my children, who were running around the house with their
However, my husband and I both
noticed that Katie looked a little different from usual. We told her, “Don’t
smile with only half of your face, that’s a bad habit.” She told us that she
wasn’t doing it on purpose, but we didn’t press her for an explanation. It was
severe enough that our guests noticed and mentioned that Katie looked
It was rather late by the time
everyone went home, so the kids quickly took showers and got ready for bed.
When Katie was washing her hair she cried out and said that her eye hurt. My
husband reminded her to close her eyes when rinsing her hair, but she said that
she couldn’t. We were all so tired that we didn’t spend time trying to figure
out what was wrong.
The next day was a holiday for
the kids, and I started to become more concerned when Katie was getting ready
to practice violin before lunch. I took a closer look at her and asked her to
close her eyes. She could only close her left eye. I told her to try harder to
close both of them, and she told me, “I’m trying as hard as I can!”
I realized then that her
situation was really serious. My husband was at work so I didn’t want to bother
him, but I wasn’t sure what I should do. I wondered why this was happening to
my daughter. Even though I knew that God would take care of Katie, I still felt
All of a sudden, I remembered
that a brother had just moved to the area from the East coast, and he was a
medical doctor. Although I didn’t know what he specialized in, I felt that it
was better to take Katie to see him because he was a member of our church.
We went to see him that
afternoon, and he told us that Katie had facial nerve paralysis, possibly
caused by a viral infection from her cold the week before. He explained that
the condition (also known as Bell’s palsy) wasn’t usually seen in children and
that it would heal on its own. However, it was possible that it could take up
to a year before she recovered—there was no way to predict.
I was worried that the
paralysis would never be healed, but I had a peaceful heart when I brought
Katie home because the brother didn’t give me any reason to believe that this
would be the case with Katie.
Because Katie couldn’t close
her right eye all the way, it got dry very quickly, and she needed to use eye
drops every hour. When I brought her to school the next morning, I told the
secretary that she needed to have someone help her administer the drops. The
secretary said that any medication given at the school required a doctor’s
I explained that they were only
artificial teardrops and not medicine, but the secretary told me that without a
doctor’s signature I would have to come every hour and give Katie the drops
I wasn’t able to come by every
hour, so I decided to see if Katie’s teacher would be willing to help us. I was
a little intimidated by the teacher because of her stern appearance, but I told
her, “Katie can’t close her right eye so she needs to have eye drops put in
Unexpectedly, she responded
immediately, saying, “I know, this is Bell’s palsy. Give me the eye drops, I
will help her.” She even comforted me by explaining that she had a cousin with
this condition and that I shouldn’t worry so much. I really thank God for this
teacher’s understanding and help so that the day passed by peacefully and
I expected Katie to begin
recovering soon, but her condition got worse instead of better. Even though the
brother said that she would heal naturally, and I knew that God would take care
of her, I had little faith.
I worried a lot about Katie,
and I did some research online on Bell’s palsy. It would have been better not
to do this—the more I read, the more unsettled I became.
Advice from friends combined
with the information I found online increased my worry and fear. I heard and
read things like “early detection brings early cure,” “you should try
acupuncture,” “you should try corticosteroids,” and “if you’re not careful and
she doesn’t get treated soon, her face could be paralyzed for life.” I was very
worried after hearing “paralyzed for life,” and I started to lose my faith and
trust in God.
OF GOD’S GRACE AND GLORY
Although my faith was low and
my mood fluctuated with Katie’s condition, I gradually came to see how God was
with us throughout this time.
It was difficult to endure
seeing my child suffer. Because she couldn’t close her right eye, I had to put
a bandage over it to prevent her cornea from drying out during sleep. Her right
eyelid was completely paralyzed, her right arm and fingers were hard and
swollen, and even the slightest touch to her cheek caused a lot of pain.
She had to use her hand to open
her mouth when she ate, and she couldn’t speak clearly. Her face looked
distorted because the skin and muscles on the right side of her face were
pulled back very tightly.
But thank God, Katie never
complained about any discomfort or inconvenience from Bell’s palsy. Even when
her classmates repeatedly asked why she only smiled with one side of her face,
she was never embarrassed or offended by them.
Since Katie had always been
active, we were used to her bumping into things and getting small cuts and
bruises. However, one day, she ran into something with more force and started
crying from the pain. We were worried because the sound of her crying was
strangely muffled, and, while the left side of her face was contorted with
pain, the right side didn’t move at all.
I knew that God was watching
over her, but when I saw her like this—a bubbly, lively child now in pain and
physically altered—I could no longer wait patiently for her to recover. I felt
that every day passed by slowly and that it would be impossible to reach the
two-week mark when patients normally started to heal.
Nevertheless, we believed that
God had a good reason for allowing this to happen to Katie, so the only things
we could do were to pray and trust in God.
I prayed to God, “I know now
that smiling and blinking are difficult if we do not have your permission. You
have watched over details as insignificant as these! We never knew how to
cherish these things. Please have mercy on our weaknesses.”
I thank God for listening to
our prayers. It is through His love and mercy that we can thank and praise Him.
We have experienced that smiling and blinking are a grace from God and that His
creation is marvelous and unfathomable.
Little by little, Katie started
to recover movement on the right side of her face. By the third week, she was
able to move her eyelid more and more, and after one month she was almost
completely healed. Now, she is back to normal. Thank God for His mercy; He did
not let us worry long over her condition. Every time Katie smiles and blinks
now, we are reminded of His grace and glory.
Through this experience, we
have been able to reflect on the blessings and love that God has given to us.
We realized that we easily overlook His grace.
As Psalm 104:10-14 tells us,
He sends the springs into the valleys;
They flow among the hills.
They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
By them the birds of the heavens have their home;
They sing among the branches.
He waters the hills from His upper chambers;
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.
He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the service of man,
That he may bring forth food from the earth.
God is the one who created the
heavens and the earth. If animals live without worries, what about us, the
children of God? Will He not protect and watch over us?
We have once again experienced
the wonders of God’s creation. May He have mercy on all of us and strengthen