12: Truth at the Benefit Sale

12: Truth at the Benefit Sale

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Tough Times

Truth at the Benefit Sale

By David Ozab

Hear my prayer, LORD; listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.

~Psalm 86:6-7

“Cleft lip.”

The words had rung in my head since the ultrasound. At twenty-two weeks, a shadow on our unborn child’s lip shattered our dreams of the perfect baby. We were facing surgeries, possible feeding problems, and other unknown complications. How were we going to handle this? We prayed every night, desperate for an answer, but the question still haunted us. After two weeks of anguish, we needed a break.

That’s why Julia suggested we go to this benefit sale. It was for a six-month-old boy born with a hole in his heart, and as helpless as we felt, we still wanted to help someone else.

We started at opposite ends of the driveway, sorting through tables crowded with clothes and toys. As we met in the middle, Julia picked up a puppet. “Isn’t this cute?”

“Do we need another animal?” We own a lot of stuffed animals.

“It’s a puppet. We only have a few puppets.”

“Well, we’re gonna buy something, and he is adorable.”

We handed the puppet to the woman at the cash table.

“Oh, that’s precious.” She checked the price. “Two dollars.”

Julia handed her a twenty. “Consider the rest a donation.”

The woman’s eyes filled with tears. “Oh, God bless you. Are you sure you don’t want something else?”

We glanced at each other.

“I’ll take one more look,” Julia said. “We may have missed something.”

As she browsed, a man walked up to the table holding a baby clad in a striped blue shirt and denim overalls.

“Somebody wants to say ‘hi.’”

The woman took her baby boy into her arms. At that moment, I saw that he had Down syndrome — as if dealing with heart surgeries wasn’t enough.

Julia returned to the cash table with a baby blanket in time for introductions.

“Hi, Noah,” we said.

He replied with a glimmering, cherubic smile.

“He’s got such an incredible spirit given everything he’s been through.”

His mother lifted his shirt, revealing a jagged scar that ran like a fault line from his neck to his navel. He giggled as she tickled him, which made us all laugh.

She pulled his shirt back down and cradled him on her shoulder. “It’s been harder on us, watching him go through two surgeries and knowing he’s got more ahead of him.”

I couldn’t imagine what she and her husband were going through. I thought about our baby’s cleft surgery. It didn’t seem as overwhelming anymore.

As we drove away, I could tell that Julia felt as hopeful as I did. Neither of us spoke for several minutes. We each knew what the other was thinking, but Julia put it into words: “With God’s help, we can handle this, too.”

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