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Featured photo courtesy of Angelina Arts Photography
At a time when darkness envelops the world and the stench of the devil's presence permeates nearly every walk of life, Our Blessed Lord makes His presence and Divine Love known to those who cry out to Him in faith. In the fifth chapter of Mark, we read the story of the woman who suffered an issue of blood for 12 years. After she just touched the cloak of Jesus as He walked by, she was instantly healed. Our Lord said to her, "Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole." In Mark chapter 10, Jesus meets a blind man in Jericho, who called out to Him. After Jesus called him forth, He asked the blind man what he wanted, and he asked for sight. Jesus again says, "Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole." In the 17th chapter of Luke, after our Lord gave the parable about the power of faith the size of a mustard seed, He met 10 lepers who were healed. The 10 ran out, but one came back to give Him thanks, to which Jesus replied, "Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole."
Over and over again, we see example after example of those whom Our Lord heals by their acts of faith. But this faith isn't just mere belief, but a deep relational trust in the Person of Our Lord. He desires us to ask Him in faith for great things, including miracles ... and moved by faith, when we ask Him with full trust, He reveals His Glory by answering.
Such was the case for Matt and Kristin Loboda, who exhibited the kind of extraordinary faith that moves mountains.
Just before Christmas last month, Matt and Kristin took their five children to Phoenix, Arizona to visit with family for the holidays. On the evening of December 28, Matt and Kristin left the children with her parents to enjoy some time on their own. They weren't due to return to her parent's house until 5:00 the following evening, but after breakfast the next morning they decided to go back to the kids and relieve her parents.
Matt told the Lepanto Institute in a phone interview that they got to the house at about 1:00. Matt was playing a round of Frisbee-golf with the children before heading out to lunch. They were planning to eat at Chick-fil-A at about 1:30, when tragedy struck.
Matt described on Facebook what had happened:
It couldn't have been a minute and we noticed Joy was missing.
In my heart I knew something was terribly wrong. So, I ran down to the Koi pond on the property. I ran around it four times looking between the shadows and fish for Joy. Momentarily I was relieved that danger was avoided. But, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to run to the pool. The pool is totally gated so I didn't think to start there.
I sprinted to the pool and saw Joy floating there on top of the water. Immediately I jumped over the 5-foot fence and dove into the water. I quickly got her out of the pool and my brother-in-law and I started CPR and called 911. Even though it seemed like an eternity before the paramedics arrived I'm sure they came quickly.
As I breathed into Joy I prayed that my breath would be the breath of God into her. In between breaths I begged for the Ruha of God to enter her. Her lips were blue and her beautiful blue eyes were wide open. I could see her pupils shrinking at an alarming rate. Then I started to pray in between breaths in the words of Jesus, Talitha Koum, which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." I knew we needed a miracle because I could actually feel her slipping away.
There was a man by us whom I don't know but am indebted to [Editor's Note: He turned out to be a policeman] because when the paramedics came street side he ran Joy to them and continued the chest compressions as he ran.
The paramedics were wonderful, but they all had a disposition of gloom. The police wouldn't let me drive so a detective drove us as quickly as possible to Phoenix Children's Hospital.
I closed my eyes and prayed. I was suddenly in the throne room of God the Father and in filial boldness I told God, "I know she is your daughter but she is my daughter too. Now is not the right time." Before I knew it we were in the E.R. and were escorted into a private room. Soon, the detective and a social worker were there. I still stood in faith and declared that my child would live. The E.R. doctor came in and didn't look good.
He bent down to talk to Kristin and me and said some things that I can't recall now. But then he said, "She has a heartbeat." That was all I needed to hear. That was all the hope I was looking for.
Matt told the Lepanto Institute that it was a miracle that the police officer who carried Joy to the ambulance was there; he just happened to be right around the corner when the 911 call was sent out over the dispatch.
Matt added that he had spoken with the Fire Chief recently, who told him that the rescue effort itself was a miracle. He said that in his 29 years doing rescue work, not even 1 percent of cases like these turn out well.
When the officer ran her to the ambulance, she was cold, her body was stiff and she didn't have a heartbeat. Not only were the rescue workers not optimistic about her survival, but Matt told the Lepanto Institute that on the ride to the hospital that he knew she was gone.
Joy was without a heartbeat for at least 25 minutes.
While rescue workers were racing to save Joy's life, family and friends put out an immediate call on Facebook for prayers. It wasn't long before thousands of people immediately began storming Heaven for the health and recovery of this little girl. On December 30, Kristin wrote a heartfelt thanks to all those who were praying for Joy and the whole family:
Dearest Family and Friends,
Matt and I want to thank you with our whole hearts for your prayers for our sweet baby Joy. I sit here holding her hand, praying for a miracle. The pain of this is so piercing I cannot breathe at times, but we are holding onto hope and God’s healing power. Please keep lifting Joy in your prayers. There are still so many unknowns.
Joy was put into a medically induced coma. Because of the likelihood of damage to the brain, heart and lungs, doctors needed to keep her temperature down to give her body the best possible chance of healing. And since Joy was on a ventilator, it was necessary to keep her as still as possible. But as if her little body hadn't been through enough, it wasn't long before doctors realized that Joy had developed a couple of blood clots, one of which would require major surgery. Kristin reported on her Facebook wall on December 31:
Joy has 2 blood clots: a small one on her heart and one going down her left leg. The one in her leg seems to be causing a lot of pain and swelling in her foot. Please pray that the clots would dissolve and heal. Thank you with all my heart.
The clots would not dissolve on her own, and on January 1, Joy underwent a successful operation that saved her leg. Kristin provided the update on her Facebook feed:
Matt and I are truly humbled and brought to our knees by your prayers for our baby girl Joy. You are lifting us and walking us through the darkest hour we have ever known. You have loved us into light and your prayers have literally raised our daughter from the dead. Our gratitude cannot be express in words. As we sit tonight amidst the humming of machines holding Joys hand, we are praying in thanksgiving for all of you.
Update on Joy- We are still praising God for the success of last night's surgery, which in turn has saved her little leg. She has remained stable all day and is showing signs of healing. In the last hours, even though she is under strong sedation, she has woken up many times moving around, opening her eyes and fighting in pain. It hurts our hearts deeply to see her in such pain and fear, but at the same time we are encouraged that she is indeed fighting and moving! During this time I know that she hears my voice and is soothed by it. This gift of motherhood is wrought with such beauty and such suffering.
As Joy's story of struggle and survival spread through social media, Matt began receiving hundreds of messages from people who had abandoned the Faith or who had lost hope.
"Suddenly, people from all over the country were telling me that they were praying for Joy, and it was because of their prayers for her that they were returning to the Church," Matt said. "I got hundreds of messages on Facebook from people saying that this story has led them back to the faith, revitalized their faith, and all because a little girl was suffering and being prayed for. Miracles do happen."
Since the darkest and most uncertain moments of Joy's accident, she is making amazing strides in her recovery. Matt told the Lepanto Institute that the attending physician who had been treating Joy told him that most of the time, people who survive a drowning usually suffer severe damage. But Joy is not showing any signs of permanent damage or lingering effects. Even now, she is awake, she is off the ventilator, she is not receiving additional oxygen, she is responsive, she has cried, and she even said "Mama" while caressing her mother's face.
On January 9, Kristin said on Facebook:
In the first week after Joy's accident I didn't think I would ever smile again. The darkness was so dark and my body completely shut down ... but through your prayers God lifted the darkness and brought our baby girl back to life. I know without a doubt that God does indeed hear and answer the prayers of His children. His glory is being made known through our Joy and I am actually smiling again as I hold my sick, but very much alive baby.
Despite the fact that Joy is expected to spend the next two to three weeks in the hospital, just yesterday, she gave her first smile, and even a laugh, since the accident.
Though the world is consumed in darkness, Our Lord chose this family, the Lobodas, to send us a message and a sign. No matter how dark things get, He will always hear and answer us when we approach Him full of love and faith. As He said to the woman, the blind man, and the leper, "Thy faith hath made thee whole." And in truth, the faith of these devoted parents and thousands around the world who joined them in prayer, has made this little girl whole, also. Our Lord hears these prayers, and many prayers like them for one simple reason: He wishes us to have what the Lobodas have ... a life of hope, with Joy.
Originally published at the Lepanto Institute.