Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

Sunday, August 25, 2002


How quickly we are required to embrace the vicissitudes of life


          Sudden turns must be negotiated on any road we take. They appear without warning, relentlessly, and no one escapes them.

            Face them we must. Our only choice is our attitude. We can decide what stance shall be ours as we embrace the vicissitudes of life.

            That tough decision was thrust upon our family on Wednesday of this week. A doctor diagnosed little Zoey’s problem as acute leukemia. The news felt like being hit in the pit of your stomach.

            This precious little girl, who was two years old in March, had suddenly become weak and listless this summer. Until six weeks ago she had been a bundle of joyous energy.

            When one morning she could hardly walk, her family physician began to search for answers. Sadly he advised the parents to take her to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. His suspicion was confirmed by the tests made the next day in that splendid hospital.

            Treatment began the next day. The good doctors there wasted no time. Zoey is in pain, the result of a war going on in her bloodstream. Thankfully her pain can be somewhat curtailed.

            Zoey is our great granddaughter, the son of Garrett and Marianne Albritton. Garrett is the son of our oldest son, Matt, and his wife Tammy.

            Within hours of the news Dean and I attended a prayer meeting held in Matt’s church, Trinity United Methodist Church in Weoka, near Wetumpka. Earnest prayer was offered for Zoey, and for others, like an older woman who had been diagnosed with lung cancer on Monday.

            Zoey’s parents asked Matt to baptize the little girl. So quickly arrangements were made and Matt baptized his granddaughter in the chapel at Children’s Hospital. It was not an easy assignment for a man who has been a pastor for only two months.

            Dean and I have walked where Garrett and Marianne must walk in the days ahead. We know some of the feelings and fears they will wrestle with.

            Our son, David, was about the same age as Zoey when he was diagnosed with acute leukemia. Like Zoey’s family we were not prepared for this sudden turn in the road.

            We learned about what hospitals call “the Children’s Wing.” We found that we were not the only hurting parents in the world, nor was our child the only one afflicted with a dreadful disease.

            This experience taught us quickly that problems come in all sizes. Spilling soup on your shirt is a small problem. A disease like leukemia is a big problem. Dealing with big problems helps us all find greater patience to face life’s small problems.

            Small problems are an annoyance. Big problems can destroy us. Big problems teach us to call upon God for strength we do not have in ourselves.

            Great progress in the treatment of leukemia has been made since our David was victimized by it. The chances of survival are much greater now.

            In times like these we remember how precious the gift of hope is. We realize what a difference our friends make, and how much it blesses us to know that others have been on their knees praying for us.

            Fortunately none of us has to walk the treacherous roads of life alone. There is One who gladly takes our hand and walks with us through the dark valleys.

            Thankfully, he walks with our family in these days.