For over half of his brief four-and-a-half-year lifespan, Ryken has struggled with breathing issues.

His folks have taken him to the emergency room numerous times, one of which required a call to 911 because his breathing was so labored.

To see Ryken, you’d never think he was challenged with health issues. He’s engaging, effervescent, energetic. He’s a happy guy–unless he’s on steroids, which cause him to become someone other than himself. But he always rallies and resorts to the sweet and fun guy he truly is.

His folks are taking him for extended tests and treatments at a hospital in Denver known for dealing with these issues. The tests themselves are trying. Allergy tests, inserting a tube up his nose while he’s awake, drawing more blood than he’s ever seen. All are uncomfortable at best.

His attitude remains strong.

When talking with doctors, he informed them that he had a special third name.

Ninja.

A name he’s given himself. A picture of the persistent fighter, the unwavering warrior. Ninjas often fight at night; our little guy is fighting a darkness that clings to him with an unhealthy tenacity.

I wish I had his persistence and focus.

John, being the Papa Extradonaire, ordered him a ninja costume, with plastic Chinese fighting stars and throwing knives. Plus two light up swords for brilliant swordplay with his foes.

He loves it.

There’s something about looking the part that gives courage to step out in areas we may not have confidence. Fully outfitted as a ninja, ready for the fight, he acts invincible.

His parents have worked tirelessly to give him the help he needs. They’ve taken him to doctors, provided him with breathing treatments, understand the particulars of his allergies and are working to lessen their effects as much as they can.

This is the burden Ryken carries. For now. A burden he doesn’t whine about; its presence has been his norm for quite some time. His courage comes from caring parents who have been there for him and with him. Siblings who come alongside him to encourage him when he struggles.

He’s not alone.

We all need that hope. The knowledge that we’re not alone in the difficult and trying times of life. That there is someone there for us to lean into, who will have our backs no matter what.

I can have the attitude of the ninja. Persistent and unwilling to give up. No matter how hard life gets.

I can’t do it alone.

God persists with me. He knows me perfectly and sees my weakness, my brokenness, and doesn’t dismiss me in my mess. He fights for me, with me, beside me, within me. He is the persistence I need to not allow the challenges of the day to undo me.

Which they do. Often.

He never leaves me, even when my heart chooses not to acknowledge Him. He’s never abandoned me or given up on me because I am His.

I am never alone.

There are enough tough challenges of each day; I don’t want to do it by myself. I can lean into Him and know I’m not alone.

Rather like the Almighty Ninja Warrior.

Ryken knows what he’s talking about.

 

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