99 Balloons 
This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

A father’s letter to his son, Eliot, has been circulating on YouTube*. Eliot was born with the genetic disorder Trisomy 18.  Doctors did not believe this little boy would survive even to be born.  Proving experts wrong, he was born and lived 99 days.  The video chronicles the parents’ love and pride for their son.

These parents are an incredible example of what it means to love and be thankful for what we are given. Even though there was incredible pain in knowing their son would not live a full life, they took the time they had with their child to love unconditionally and be thankful each and every day for the time they got with him. The family practiced joy by celebrating their son. They continually prayed each day for healing and a miracle. In the end, when their prayer for healing was not answered, they were still able to give thanks for the time they had with their son. 

The Apostle Paul commands us to be joyful, prayerful and thankful in all circumstances. In the best of times, the commands aren’t tremendously burdensome, but often go unheeded. When we undergo hardships in life, they go against our natural inclination. No one would have condemned Eliot’s parents for being angry and bitter for the circumstances they were in; however, instead, they made the difficult, but possible choice to be joyful, prayerful and thankful. And, they were the better for it. They were able to appreciate each day with their son and ultimately see God’s hand of grace and love in the gift they had been given.

Eliot died on what his parents called his 99th birthday. At Eliot’s funeral, 99 balloons were released in honor of each day his parents got to spend with him.  The father’s letter closed with these words: “Today you went to be with Jesus. An underdeveloped lung, a heart with a hole in it, DNA that places faulty information in every cell in your body could not stop God from revealing Himself through a child who never uttered a word… God found great pleasure to take a lowly thing in the eyes of the world and show truth…”

Eliot’s parents demonstrated how valuable joy, prayer, and thankfulness can be in the midst of difficult circumstances. May we choose to do the same.

To comment on today's devotional, click here.


       

GOING DEEPER:

1. None of us are guaranteed even the next 99 days of our lives.  Who do you need to show appreciation and celebration for in your life?

2. How can you remind yourself to be joyful, prayerful and thankful each day?

FURTHER READING:
Psalm 93; Mark 10:13-16; Ephesians 5:15-20

*To view the video on YouTube, click on the following link:  http://youtube.com/watch?v=th6Njr-qkq0
*Click here to read "A Father's Contempt for the Commonplace" by Eliot's father.

Kelly McFadden currently works at Mariners Church Southern California. She and her husband Michael are the new parents of Campbell McFadden


 

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