Guthrie too finds reassurance in purpose: "God has given us visibility and a platform." Now that the story has been told via numerous media reports and Guthrie's book, Holding On To Hope, the response from fellow sufferers has been overwhelming. "I can hardly believe that God is using such hard things that on the surface look so bad - and they are - to draw people to Him.


"As I see that, I literally fall on my face and say, 'Thank you that you can give Hope and Gabriel such meaningful lives.' They are significant because they are being used by God. A lot of people live 70, 80, 90 years and they never come close to fulfilling the purpose that God had for them."


She now sees the big picture. "I feel like we were privileged to be forced to see hope in bigger, deeper terms, to have our perspective altered about where our hope lies.


"This world is fallen. It's broken," Guthrie adds. "It doesn't take looking around very far to see that. If our hope is limited by what we can experience in this life, on this earth, if our only hope is in getting what we want here, we will be disappointed.


"But when we embrace a biblical hope that is built on a foundation of not only God's promises, but God's character, that is a safe and secure place to place our hope."


This article first appeared in the Holiday 2002 issue of FaithTalk magazine, a publication of Salem Communications.