Ben Breedlove was born with a heart problem known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This essentially meant he had a thickened heart muscle prone to causing high blood pressure and cardiac arrest.
His parents, Shawn and Deanne, were devastated to hear the news from the doctors, but reflecting on Philippians 4:6-7, they knew they had no choice but to lay their son’s fate in God’s hands:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
As his sister Ally attests, Ben was one of those kids that made you forget he was in pain. He had a fatal heart condition, but by the looks of his adventurous spirit and winsome smile, nobody would know it.
Throughout his brief life, Ben’s heart failed him several times, but with each near-death experience, he came back stronger than ever.
The first time Ben cheated death was when he was only four years old after experiencing a severe seizure.
“We were being wheeled down a hallway,” said Deanne. “And he had commented to me that there was this white light above him. And he even said it was a pitch-white light. He didn’t know pitch was black tar. He said, ‘Mom, it’s pitch white. It’s right above me. Do you see it?’ And I said, ‘No.'”
“And it was significant because the hallway that they were being wheeled down, there were no lights on in that hallway,” added Shawn.
Ben’s heart remained in relatively stable condition over the next several years, but that profound vision stayed with him.
Though he had a deep-seated faith in God, he couldn’t help but wrestle with God’s goodness as his health declined and the idea of death became imminent. Deanne and Shawn wrestled with the same conflicting emotions as well. Why would a good father allow this all to happen?
In December 2011, Ben experienced two more brushes with death, and he knew the end was nearing. But something was different about the last one. He had an encounter with God that flooded his heart with the peace that passes understanding spoken of in Philippians, that before had only seemed like a fairy tale.
Ben told his dad, “You know that peace is so amazing. It’s so hard to describe. but you don’t have to worry about me. I’m good. I’ve got that peace that it’s talking about right here.”