God’s Care For His Own
On July 23 1999 Paquito, the seven year old son of Pastor Paco and Mrs Julia Orozco of Hermosillo, Mexico, finally died after three to four years of battling with leukaemia. Jim Adams of the Cornerstone Church in Mesa, Arizona, flew to Mexico for that funeral service, an occasion never to be forgotten. Paco reminded those taking part of the example of David:
When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, ‘Is the child dead?’ And they said, ‘He is dead.’ So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes, and he went into the house of the LORD and worshipped” (2 Sam.12:19,20).
Paco himself was the preacher at his own son’s funeral; ‘Our God is wise. Our God is good. Our God is sovereign.’ At the graveside he thanked the people for coming, committed his son’s body to the grave, and then said to the people, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me” (2 Sam. 12:22-23).
Paquito had been a delightful, mischievous, talented, outgoing, friendly child. His favourite verse was 2 Corinthians 8:9, ‘For we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.’ He embraced that Gospel message with the childlike faith that God requires of us all. His older sister Alejandra knows that she has lost her best friend. His four year old younger brother, George, does not seem to understand the permanence of Paquito’s absence. He loves to tell his parents about the things Paquito said and did, and his memories are not tinged with the sadness his parents feel. The youngest child Rafael reminds them of Paquito most of all. His father says, ‘I like to think that Paquito taught Rafael how to enjoy life. They would laugh so much. Whenever Paquito played on the computer he would invite Rafael up on his lap. Paquito would sit with him and patiently teach him new words. A week before Paquito died he said to me, “I miss taking care of the baby. I wish I could get into his crib and read to him.”‘
The last year of Paquito’s life was tough for all the family. He became so tired he stayed in bed most of the time. He no longer had the energy to take care of his own garden. He had no appetite and so he steadily lost weight. His bone marrow was so active producing leukaemia that his platelets and hemoglobin became dangerously low. He had to have regular blood transfusions and then he developed a secondary infection. The leukaemia ultimately infiltrated the nervous system, and the doctor was able to control the seizures only by injecting chemotherapy directly into his spinal column. The pain was excruciating and they needed the help of a pain specialist who said that Paquito’s pain was like having fractured bones, and very difficult to control. A catheter was installed right into his spine so that they could inject the pain medication directly into his central nervous system. Paquito would ask many questions about heaven: ‘Why are people so sad at funerals if they know the person has gone to heaven? What will children do in heaven? Who will be my Mummy in heaven?’ To this latter question his father replied that Jesus takes special care of the children because he loves them so much.
As the anniversary of his death approaches Paco Orozco was asked to speak at the summer camp of Cornerstone Church, Mesa, on ‘God’s Care for his Own.’ After ‘tent-making’ for years working at the American Embassy in Mexico Paco has this year been able to devote himself wholly to the gospel ministry. At the Cornerstone Camp he spoke of the lessons they had learned in the past years:–
I would like to thank those of you who have prayed for our ministry in Mexico and especially those of you who prayed for our son Paquito. This is a hard task, speaking in English, when all my emotions are in Spanish, and it is also hard to speak about myself. So I shall turn your attention to Scripture, pointing out three things in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 which have become part of our experience these past years.
1) God sometimes does not answer our prayers according to our wishes. Three times Paul prayed to the Lord with this real problem, but God’s reply was, ‘No, my grace is sufficient.’ Paul was an apostle who knew about prayer, who interceded for many people and congregations. But God’s answer to him was, ‘No.’ We prayed for Paquito as did people all over the world–surely this is one of the benefits of the e-mail. Paquito’s own prayer was the most moving: ‘God, heal me.’ That is how he prayed, and I honestly thought that there were so many people all over the world praying for him that God would surely heal him, but the Lord’s answer was no.
I was so discouraged when God did not hear our prayers for healing. The doctor finally told us that Paquito had three months to live. But I was reminded of another Man who prayed three times, a Man who was perfect, whom God always heard, who acknowledged that he was in anguish even to death. Yet that Man added, ‘Not as I will, but as thou wilt.’ We do not understand why or how God works as he does, but we know that God is most wise and holy, working all things according to his own glory.
When our Lord was making his final journey to Jerusalem he was, as a true man, hungry. He sees some way ahead a fig tree full of leaves but when he gets close to it there were no fruit. Our Lord cursed it. The tree curled up and died. Our Lord was showing his righteousness and his power. But in one gospel account we are told that it was not the season for figs. The tree was innocent and blameless yet it was judged by the Lord. So in my imagination I spoke to the tree and said to it, ‘What do you think about this? The Lord cursed you and died.’ The tree answered and said, ‘I am the most privileged of all the trees in the world. I dried up for his glory.’
Paquito was beautiful, intelligent and blameless. He came to know God as his Saviour at an early age. He suffered so much for the four years of his chemo treatment. But if I could talk him today he would say to me, ‘I was most privileged to die so young for God and his glory.’ The chief end of man he fulfilled in his brief life. Most men who live far longer fail to fulfil their end.
2) God always gives us more than enough grace to endure to the end. ‘My grace is sufficient for thee,’ he told Paul. From the very beginning God gave to us as a family his grace. During all the months of treatments and tests he gave grace to Paquito. God provided the finance for all our bills. We were able to persevere in our faith. There were other trials which also came to our family during those years – sicknesses, depression and other troubles, but God continued to give us grace. People from different parts of the world sent us books that were helpful. The Lord gave us grace every day, even July 23, 1999, that last day of his life. I was able to preach Paquito’s funeral service with great hope. God always gives his people sufficient grace.
3) God desires us to continue in Christ’s power not our own (v.9ff). When I am weak then I am strong. If I learned anything from Paquito’s illness it was how frail, unbelieving and sinful I was. Before my son grew sick I thought I was a pretty strong man, my character was better than most. I had a pretty healthy self-esteem! But God showed me how weak I was, even for the breath of my life. When I should have lived closer to God doubts and temptations came along. I learned first hand to say, ‘Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief.’
What practical lessons were we taught?
1. Make sure that your kids are ready for heaven. You as a parent are most responsible for their salvation. You must teach them, and hold family devotions. Do not wait–even if your child is only one day old. Sing to him, and talk to him about the Lord.
Make sure that you yourself are gong to heaven. You are not going to live for ever. When I was ten years old my father was away on a business trip and my mother died in my arms. Ever since that day my conscience has reminded me that I am not going to live for ever. We are all living longer lives, but still we are going to die. When a Puritan woman was about to give birth often her pastor would visit her to see if she were ready to die.
2. Get rest and strength from the Lord. I asked my wife what was most helpful in keeping her during these past five years and she showed me her note-books. Every day there was a promise from the Bible that she had found and written down, and she rested in those.
3. If you are ever in tribulation, great or small, take heart. The Lord will provide in his grace all you need for life and godliness.
4. Christians receive affliction, accidents, providences as marks that they are sons of God, as Hebrews 12:6 tells us, ‘The Lord disciplines those he loves.’ Before Paquito was diagnosed as being sick I was reading in some of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones‘s books of the assurance the people of God may attain at times of revival persuading them strongly that they are indeed the Lord’s. I got down on my knees and asked God that I might have 100% certainty that I was going to heaven. Strangely it was through the illness of Paquito that the answer came to me that I was indeed a son of God.
5. God will replace what you give up for his sake, if not here then in heaven. Job had a large family and all the children died in one day–all ten of them. How encouraging it is to read in the last chapter of Job that God prospered him again with a family. My little boy Raphael was not supposed to be born. We were going to wait until Paquito’s sufferings were over. God knew what he was doing. He was replacing Paquito with another beautiful baby, and I believe he is the most beautiful in all the earth! God was working all things after the counsel of his own will and to his glory.
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