A Bible presentation ceremony for graduates leads to happy tears

A verse from Numbers captures a moment for my son, at birth and today

Joe MacDonald avatar

by Joe MacDonald |

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Every year at the First United Methodist Church of Belen, New Mexico, where I serve as pastor, I present a Bible to those graduating from high school and/or college. I select one of its verses that I feel connects with each specific recipient, and then I read the chosen passage to the congregation.

I treasure this moment as I tell the graduates that when times get tough and they feel lonely, they can turn to the verse I wrote in the front and know that an entire church stands behind them to offer comfort or celebration. As we finish, I ask the congregation to raise their hands and offer the graduates a blessing for the years to come.

This year was no exception: Last Sunday, we honored our graduates in church. All was well until it came time to give my youngest son, Caeleb, his Bible. I chose an exceptional text, and through tears of joy and love, I explained the story of Caeleb’s entrance into the world.

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The tale behind a Bible verse

That night I’d visited Cazandra, my wife, in the hospital when she was 36 weeks pregnant and had begun having problems. Her OB-GYN, Mark Jacobs, had put her on bed rest there with the hope that she wouldn’t deliver the baby for at least two weeks. Unfortunately, Cazandra’s water broke the night I visited her, causing concern among our medical team.

As the anesthetist prepared Cazandra for a cesarean section, our wonderful nurse told us that when Caeleb was born, they’d immediately take him to a room next door to monitor his breathing. The doctor expressed concerns that our new son would struggle to breathe on his own. I thanked the nurse for taking us through the following steps and assured Cazandra that everything would be OK.

I sat in Cazandra’s hospital room until they called us to join everyone in the delivery room. While waiting, a million and one thoughts flew through my brain. What happens if my child cannot breathe on his own? Will he suffer any mental damage because of his difficulties?

As I sat there scared, I looked over to Cazandra’s table and found her Bible open to the Book of Numbers. One fascinating verse caught my attention: “But I’ll bring my servant Caleb into the land that he explored, and his descendants will possess it because he has a different spirit, and he has remained true to me” (Numbers 14:24 Common English Bible).

I felt peace come over me as I experienced a divine presence in the room. My boy, I felt, would have a bright future and recover from this strange entry into the world. I looked up and said, “Thank you.” Today the verse from Numbers reminds me that through all the turns in my son’s life, he’s fought hard and recovered well.

All the tears that flowed in church on Sunday morning were an expression of overwhelming gratitude for Caeleb’s overcoming the many struggles that he’s faced. I thought of the complications related to his hemophilia and his many spontaneous internal joint bleeds in his right ankle and knee. Perhaps remembering that Numbers verse also reminded me that amid the ups and downs of navigating life with a bleeding disorder, my faith has served as my bedrock of hope.

As I gave him his Bible, I hugged him and told him I loved him more than he’d ever know. He is Caeleb, the mighty warrior, and can stand firm as he conquers breakthrough bleeds, crippling pain, and anything else that comes his way. We are a family force as we stand together to face the monsters that wage war against our bodies. Hemophilia may be ferocious, but it cannot defeat the mighty MacDonald family.

I composed myself and turned back to my wonderful congregation as they helped me wish the graduates much success. This time started a day of celebration for everyone in the building. How happy we were to participate in our loved one’s journeys to this point. While we don’t know what the future may hold, loving hearts continue to support and encourage all our graduates.

I stared into my fantastic son’s eyes and thought, “How blessed I am to be this young man’s father.”

Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


Charmaine Kassim avatar

Charmaine Kassim

This article has brought back memories of my own experiences with my son Kyle. It's only through the grace, mercy and power of Jesus Christ that helped Kyle during the most difficult and painful times in his life. Today Kyle is 16 years old and doing well. For the past year he is on Hemlibra, a break through medication that has changed his life. No more bleeds. He is now an active swimmer and loves going out and having fun with the family. All praise and glory to Jesus.

Joe MacDonald avatar

Joe MacDonald

Thank you for sharing a portion of your story. We turn to our refuge for strength and hope.



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