When Jada Daves was told that her newborn child would likely die … that she should make plans accordingly … she had two choices: Collapse or fight. She chose the latter.
A mother of five and corporate coach, Jada and her family put on the full armor of God and went into battle. Her heartfelt letter is one of 52 that my wife Louise and I have chosen for Godwink Stories: A Devotional.
Here it is:
My 2-year-old son Shafer (pictured top right) was having a meltdown before nap time. We tried everything to calm him — singing, reading, DVDs — but nothing worked.
With him being so sick and fragile, I prayed for God to provide something to help soothe him. Then, we “accidently” found the Bill Gaither musical group on TV. He was mesmerized.
“More … more … more ‘Gaifer,’” he would say.
From then on, we tuned in, almost every day.
Let me give you a better understanding of our story.
At three weeks of age, we were advised by our doctor to place Baby Shafer in Hospice care and to “just keep him comfortable.”
The mother in me screamed “NO!”
We proceeded to switch medical teams. Prognosis was grim as he endured one life-threatening issue after another; finally diagnosed with Denys-Drash syndrome, a medical condition so rare that there have only been 200 documented cases in the world!
At Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital he endured nine months of dialysis, 11 hours a day. Our baby boy continued to fight, but his kidneys eventually failed. We got the kidneys out just in time … missing full-blown cancer by weeks … so skipped chemo and headed for transplant.
Then, Godwinks galore, another super miracle. As his mother, believe it or not, I was the perfect match to be his living donor. I cannot tell you how rare that is! The odds are one in multi-millions that I would be a perfect match in six categories.
So the story became not just one of faith, but a medical marvel inviting headlines: “Mother gives life to son twice!”
More Godwinks: Shafer’s transplant surgeon was Dr. Shaffer, another physician was Dr. Schaeffer, and the ambulance transporting him to Vanderbilt was flanked by Shaffer trucks on both sides. (Is this all a mere coincidence? I think not!)
Another Godwink became clear as we recalled a Gaither program we had watched one night, with tears and heavy hearts, as Taranda and Tony Greene shared their story of kidney failure. We were not quite sure why, but God had allowed us to see and hear their story at “such a time as this.”
It all made sense months later, when, waiting to go to transplant, my mom gave me a DVD featuring Baby Shafer’s favorite song, “Giving Thanks.” But the video “just happened” to also have Tony and Taranda’s testimony on it.
God was assuring us that He knew right where we were; that we could trust Him to be faithful, regardless of the final outcome.
We made it to transplant and experienced miraculous success. Six months later we are still listening to “Mr. Gaifer’s” beautiful music, every day and night, as it lulls Baby Shafer off to sleep. And, our hearts are overflowing with gratitude.
We all know how the music of Bill and Gloria Gaither lifts your spirits and soothes your soul. Their lyrics are powerful affirmations of God’s love for us. Every song a prayer.
Still, it must have been difficult for Jada and her husband Kevin not to grow weary when their faith was tested. They didn’t know, from one week to the next, if Baby Shafer would live or die. They could only hope and pray.
Jada and Kevin trusted God even when everything was stacked against them, when the doctor said that there was only a multi-million chance that Jada’s kidney would be a perfect match for her baby. But, trusting God worked; God winked; and Jada miraculously fit the criteria for her precious child to receive her own kidney!
It is never easy to suffer through painful trials, especially when it involves our children, but we must never give up. As Jada said, “God knew right where we were … we could trust Him to be faithful, regardless of the final outcome.”
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid … for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV)
And now Jada and her family are doing exactly what the Gaither song says —“Giving Thanks.”