Maybe this doesn’t happen to you… but sometimes the Lord will impress a theme upon my heart again and again and again, until I finally pick up on it. I’m so hard-headed and busy that I will not really pay attention sometimes. The leading of the Holy Spirit is a powerful thing, though. No matter how dense I am, I will eventually stop and say, “OK, Lord, I’m listening. What do You want me to do?”
Lately, through one circumstance or another, prayer and its power has been brought to my mind again and again. For more than a year, I have been praying that good friends of ours would be blessed with a child. This prayer was answered several weeks ago by the arrival of a bouncing baby boy. Several months ago a friend of my children was in a terrible car accident and I joined hundreds and even thousands in praying for his recovery. He is now recovered. My family and I went to see the movie “War Room”, several weeks ago – which is about a woman who begins to pray earnestly that the Lord would save her marriage and family. When I taught Sunday School a few weeks ago, the lesson was titled “Pray Fervently.” It was about Daniel and his friends praying for the Lord to reveal a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar to Daniel along with its interpretation.
I have sent up thousands of prayers throughout my lifetime. Some have been answered in the way I hoped, and some have been answered in other ways. I know, however, that each situation and each answer will play a part in the furtherance of the Lord’s perfect will and for His Glory and I trust Him in his eternal wisdom. You see, we humans are just not smart enough to know what we need. We’re egotistical enough that we often think we do, but our foresight is not eternal as is the Lord’s.
When I taught the lesson about the fervent prayer of Daniel and his friends, I shared a time in my life that probably deepened my faith in the Lord more than any one event in my life to that point. I don’t share it very often. I have always worried that maybe women who were in the same situation that I was in and made a different decision that I did might be hurt by my story. However, the further in time I get away from that event… the more the Lord seems to impress on me to share His mighty movement in my life. So, I have decided to share it here.
When I was 19 years old, I was expecting my second baby boy, Phillip. I was going through a stressful time in my life – aside from being a pregnant 19 year old with an extremely active toddler named Justin who was nearly two years old. When I was around 20 weeks pregnant, I woke up one morning with the unmistakable signs and symptoms of miscarriage. I was rushed to the hospital. After many tests, ultrasounds, etc, the doctor told me that I was going to lose my baby. He explained that “mother nature” has a way of taking care of nonviable pregnancies of less than healthy babies, and that unfortunately I was carrying a very defective baby. He told me so many things that the ultrasound had revealed was wrong with Phillip that to this very day I cannot remember them all. Some of them were that he had an open neural tube defect which would cause him to have virtually no quality of life. One of his organs, I was told, was on the outside of his body, and he only had one kidney. It was predicted that he would never walk, talk or even know he was in this world. I was absolutely devastated.
Also, I was diagnosed with placenta previa which had resulted in very severe hemorrhaging. The doctor told me that I could bleed to death which would also cause the baby to die. Back in 1993, and I’m sure it’s probably so today, there was no way for a baby to survive after only 20 weeks in the womb. The doctor recommended that the pregnancy be “terminated” immediately. Terminated? That sounded like more of an intentional action than miscarrying. So, I asked him what he meant. He said that it would technically be an abortion, although it would be “medically necessary” not only to save my life, but also to keep my unborn child from a life of misery and suffering should I not miscarry and he survive being born at a later time. This medically necessary abortion would allow me to continue mothering and nurturing Justin who needed me so. He said that he could tell me to go home and put my feet up and hope for the best, but that really that was only to help me know that I had done everything I could. The end result was more than likely going to be that either I terminated the pregnancy, or did nothing and delivered a more than likely stillborn baby, all the while hoping that I did not bleed to death in the meantime.
What? Did I hear that right? Surely this wasn’t happening to me! Why was this happening to me? What had I done to warrant putting myself and my other little boy in this predicament? My family and I had just suffered the death of my little brother, Eric, only a little over 6 months before this. I surely didn’t want them to lose me too. I didn’t want them to lose me and Phillip. I didn’t want Justin to grow up without me. What in the world was I supposed to do?!?!?!
I was taught from a very early age to respect authority. I was taught to respect my elders, teachers, coaches, pastors, law enforcement officers, military members, and…. yes, doctors. Doctors were there to make difficult decisions to promote and prolong life. I was under the impression that doctors swore to “first do no harm”. Certainly if he recommended this drastic course of action it was well thought out and… well… necessary. Was it? Was it really? I couldn’t get past that word. The abortion word. The “medically necessary” part just didn’t dress it up enough for me to immediately go ahead with his recommendation. I told him I needed time to think and to consult with my loved ones.
Again, I was only 19. My loved ones often made decisions for me (whether they realized it or not) that I deemed too hard to make without a hefty dose of advice. So, I talked to a few of my trusted family members. Some of them thought that certainly THIS was one of those “exceptions” that people must have to hang their hats on sometimes. After all, this medically necessary procedure did concern the life of the mother – in fact this medically necessary procedure might be the only way for the life of the mother to continue. Doctors don’t make those recommendations lightly or without just cause. Did they?
Like I said, all of my family and friends were still emotionally raw from my brother’s death. Everybody was dealing from a deck of emotional chaos while helping to counsel me on my imminent and most necessary medical decision. They were miserable about the news of the baby, but the subject of me being in danger even seemed to trump that. I had just seen them face loss. None of us handled it very well… but then again… how many of us do? I’m not saying that they all encouraged me to go through with it, but I felt the added pressure to make this decision one that would comfort them with the assurance that I would remain here on this earth, loving them and taking care of my Justin. But there was still that abortion word to deal with. It just kept sounding in my head, flashing like a neon sign… and still the “medically necessary” part did nothing to dress it up for me.
I finally told the doctor that I could not agree to that right then. I begged him to just please please let me go home to see my sweet smiling Justin, and that I would come back to his office first thing the very next morning to announce my decision. He was very angry at me for not following his advice. He was very angry at me for insisting that I be allowed to go home. I honestly believe – even to this day – that he truly believed in what he was saying to me. I don’t want you to get the idea that he was doing this flippantly. I think he really thought that it was what was best for me – his patient. Yet home I went!
I was broken. I was confused. I was afraid. Only the Lord could help me. I knew that He loved me. So, that night I prayed like I never had before. I cried and I prayed and I cried and I prayed some more. This went on all night. I kept begging the Lord to help us. I told Him that I didn’t want to lose Phillip, but that I didn’t want him to suffer if he were to survive. I begged Him to allow me to raise Justin and to remain here for my family too, to make the doctor be wrong, to make my Phillip whole. I told Him that it just was not a decision that I could make. That it was His choice whether I lived or died and whether my child did. I prayed and prayed. It is because of that night that after I was totally out of words that I know personally the meaning of Romans 8:26. Paul said, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Yes, I was completely undone. I would doze off and awake and realize that I was still in prayer. I know that the Spirit was indeed interceding for me. I was blessed to feel it. I am blessed to know it.
Oddly enough, a verse came to me… it was not a verse that I had ever paid much attention to before. Oh, but I turned it over and over in my mind that night. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 I had seen it before, but never had it come alive for me. I knew the Lord Himself had told this to Jeremiah. I really didn’t know much about the rest of the book of Jeremiah. This verse, though, was more than I needed to answer me. The Lord God knew my baby. He knew him even before He formed him in my womb. I became confident in my decision to not do the medically necessary procedure. I would not abort my baby. I had placed it all in the hands of the Lord.
That peace that surpasses all understanding had come upon me. Suddenly, I realized that I trusted in the Lord to know what was best for all of us. I knew that The Lord Jesus Himself intercedes for me. The Holy Spirit was actively guiding and interceding for me…. and my child was “fearfully and wonderfully made”. I went to the doctor the next morning and told him my decision. Later, he sent me to a perinatologist in Jackson who did not see the same problems with Phillip that my other doctor had seen. Also, my placenta had moved upwards and was in the correct position by the time Phillip was born. After Phillip was born I did find out that only one of his kidneys had developed, but other than that, he was perfect.
So… many people declared that the doctor must have been a quack. They all exclaimed how fortunate I was that I didn’t blindly follow his advice. I guess that could be the explanation for it… however, I believe the Lord healed Phillip in utero. I don’t know why He did it. I just know that both the radiologist had performed the ultrasound and my doctor did one himself and they were both in agreement. I eventually delivered Phillip and he was okay. I really don’t know how or why, but I remember how it felt that night to finally trust Him in that no matter what happened – we were going to be okay, because we belong to Him and He loves us. I understood love. I understood mercy. I understood grace. I understood that I had more to do, and Phillip had more to do. And I understood that while He had plans for us… our eternal salvation was the greatest gift ever given to us.
I know that is not how every story like this goes. I know people who have suffered gut wrenching losses that were bathed thoroughly in prayers of faith. I find myself wondering sometimes how I was granted enough faith at that young age to trust Him so completely in that matter. I wonder why did He do that for me? There are so many people who are far more worthy than I am to get such wonderful blessings. I wonder and wonder and wonder. What I know, though, is that He never leaves me nor forsakes me… not in my darkest hours… not in my loneliest moments… not even when everyone else seems to be at a loss for words.
He loves you that much, too. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Trust Him completely today.
13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
Psalm 139: 13-18