I started writing this post last week. I started to formulate it in my heart and mind and several times, I sat down to write it, but for some reason, I just couldn’t get the words onto the page until this evening. Then, just as I thought I was nearly finished, I discovered why it wasn’t complete until now. Read on. 🙂
Last Tuesday, I was 23 weeks and very happy! I returned home from my OB appointment one week ago with the encouraging news that things had not changed in two weeks. This was good news! I breathed a huge sigh of relief that we were making progress. When I was placed on bed rest at 21 weeks, I had been terrified. I trusted God – I committed to trust Him and to choose not to worry – but at the same time, I struggled with fear because if the baby came at that time, there was no chance that he would survive. Having been through loss not so long ago, I did not want to go through it again. My short term goal was 24 weeks; I was elated that two weeks had passed and I was only one short week away from achieving that goal.
When I got home, I took a belly shot and posted the positive update on Facebook. I found out through a few texts, Facebook messages, and comments that the Tuesday prayer meeting group at my church had been fervently praying for me that very morning. I was so encouraged and I marvelled at God’s ways; I knew that it was the prayers of this group and so many of you that had helped sustain this pregnancy over those two weeks.
As I began to process my day and assess where we were sitting, however, the gravity of the situation began to weigh on my heart. As most of you know, our boys have all been born prematurely. Nathan was our earliest; he was born (after two weeks of bed rest) at 28 weeks and 6 days, over 11 weeks before his due date! As I considered the challenges and trials he had faced in the NICU over the first nine and a half weeks of his life, I recognized that although we were close to “viability”, we were still in for a very long road if this child would come in the next month or even two months! At that point, I was still nearly 6 weeks away from when Nathan was born. At the same time, we have seen miracles firsthand in our sons’ lives. One particularly memorable miracle is when God answered our prayers to heal a spot in Nathan’s brain that doctors believed could cause physical challenges for him throughout his life. (You can read this and more of Nathan’s journey if you read October 2008 and onward from the archives on the bottom right of this blog. Asher’s story begins in December 2006.) My heart was flooded with the sobering reality surrounding our current situation as well as poignant memories of God’s faithfulness through the last times we walked this road.
What was it that caused the miraculous to break through when Nathan (or Asher) was in the hospital?
The prayers of our family, friends, church family, and readers of my blog.
What was it that strengthened me through my first two weeks of bed rest (and continue to strengthen me) and stormed heaven for this pregnancy and for my precious unborn child last Tuesday morning as I had my OB appointment?
Once again, it was the prayers.
It became very clear to me in a powerful way that evening that prayer is what is carrying and sustaining this pregnancy. Though physically, my body seems to be failing at the task, the many prayers are strengthening and upholding in ways that we cannot always see or measure. At times, like that appointment, it can be tangibly measured. At other times, like when I am feeling discouraged or restless but then begin to feel strengthened in my spirit because of someone’s prayers, it may not be seen but is deeply felt. Furthermore, I know that our baby is in God’s hands. I know that no matter what happens, no matter how long I remain pregnant or even if our son is born earlier than we expected, that he is safe in God’s hands.
Today, I am 24 weeks. I woke up this morning feeling very accomplished :). We had reached our first goal. Our next goal? Rob set this one, and I like it: 29 weeks – one day after Nathan was born. Because every day counts. Every day in the womb takes days off time in the NICU. Our end goal is beyond 29 weeks, but the small goals help each day and week feel a little less overwhelming.
I had another OB appointment today and was discouraged to learn that this time, things have changed, and in only one week. I will be honest and say that it is scary. It is not the place that I want to be right now. However, I choose to believe that no matter how things look, the prayers continue to carry the pregnancy that I can’t carry on my own, and that my God continues to hold my little boy. And that’s something to be thankful for. I can rest in that truth.
Just as I was reading over this post before publishing it, my friend Melodie came over to pray. What she shared before praying really encouraged me, and so it became the conclusion to my post. She read the story of the Shunammite woman, whose son, promised to her by God through the prophet Elisha, dies in her arms. When her son dies, instead of running out crying to her husband, she simply lays the boy on the prophet’s bed, shuts the door, and tells her husband that she is going to see Elisha and bring him back to their home. When he asks her why, her response is, “It will be well.” (2 Kings 4:23) She doesn’t let on – even to her husband – that anything is wrong! She leaves to find Elisha. When Elisha sees her coming, he sends his servant, Gehazi, ahead of him to ask her “It is well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?” (2 Kings 4:26) The woman’s response? “It is well.” (2 Kings 4:26)
Eventually, the woman makes her way to Elisha and throws herself at his feet. She reminds him that she did not ask for a son and had not even dared believe it when she was told. (2 Kings 4:28) The rest of the story unfolds as follows, “29 Then [Elisha] said to Gehazi, “Gird up your loins and take my staff in your hand, and go your way; if you meet any man, do not salute him, and if anyone salutes you, do not answer him; and lay my staff on the lad’s face.” 30 The mother of the lad said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” And he arose and followed her. 31 Then Gehazi passed on before them and laid the staff on the lad’s face, but there was no sound or response. So he returned to meet him and told him, “The lad has not awakened.”
32 When Elisha came into the house, behold the lad was dead and laid on his bed. 33 So he entered and shut the door behind them both and prayed to the Lord. 34 And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth and his eyes on his eyes and his hands on his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm. 35 Then he returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him; and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes. 36 He called Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came in to him, he said, “Take up your son.” 37 Then she went in and fell at his feet and bowed herself to the ground, and she took up her son and went out.” (2 Kings 4:26-37 NASB)
A few of you know that for about two years, after I had surgery that we believed could help prevent any more preterm deliveries, we were hoping and trying to conceive another child. Years passed, and it didn’t happen. We thought that perhaps that season of our life had passed until last December when we were surprised – and delighted! – to learn that we were expecting. Sadly, we lost that child at around 8 weeks. Nearly one year later, now even more sure that season was done, we again found ourselves unexpectedly expecting.
Much like the boy was for the Shunammite woman, this child is a gift, not expected or asked for (though we had asked in years past and God knows the deepest and unspoken longings of our hearts), but very much desired.
In the end, her son lived. In the end, I know our son will live, too
What was the Shunammite woman’s response in the face of an overwhelmingly bleak situation, even death?
“It is well.”
This mother so trusted the prophet of God that she knew her son would live. She spoke life right in the face of death.
Lord, help me to be so sure. Help me to trust You more. Help me to fix my eyes on You and to know that however things may appear,
“It is well!”
As I shared above, I know that prayers are carrying this pregnancy that my body cannot physically handle without the hand of God. I know His loving hands are holding our baby until his appointed time to be born. So, yes, I can declare with confidence, “It is well!”