Last week my family prayed for a miracle and we’re still trying to get our heads around how our prayers were answered. Figuring out how and why God does what he does isn’t as simple as some people seem to think.
Our daughter Katie lives on the West Coast and is pregnant with her second child, a little girl. Several weeks ago, her 20-week ultrasound indicated something was potentially wrong with the baby’s heart. As a result, Katie was referred to a high-risk doctor last Tuesday for more in-depth testing. At that appointment, the doctor did in fact find a defect, a structural deformity in which a key blood vessel was missing from one of the heart’s chambers.
The doctor made no secret of his Christian beliefs and told Katie and her husband that “This baby is a blessing, a blessing of God! Remember the devil always wants to steal your joy.” Then, he took their hands and prayed over them before kindly explaining that, though the baby was in no immediate danger, they would need to consult a pediatric cardiologist about what might need to be done after the birth. He scheduled an appointment with the specialist two days later.
As is the case with any parent, Katie and her husband were frightened and anxious about the news and what it meant for their baby as well as their future as a family. She knew that prenatal conditions like that of her baby were often due to genetic abnormalities that can be indicators of larger issues with life-long consequences. When she talked with my wife and me Tuesday afternoon we shared her concerns and quickly called friends and family to ask them to pray with us for the baby’s healing. Katie and her husband did the same with their own church members and friends across the country. It was all any of us knew to do.
While prayer sometimes may be our last resort it’s always our greatest hope
“All we can do is pray” is what people say to one another when they reach the end of their own resources and have no place to look for help except to God. But people who take prayer seriously—Pam and I as well as the circle of our friends and family are certainly in that category—don’t say those words as the acknowledgement of helplessness. Far from it. We take prayer instead as the cry of a believing heart rebelling against the status quo and desperate to access the divine resources God promises to his children. For more about praying for adult children, here’s a previous blog. We believe that while prayer sometimes may be our last resort it’s always our greatest hope.
My wife and I have come to understand that prayer is much more than just asking God to resolve the petty issues that occupy so much of our time and energy, or give us wisdom to make decisions or even to give us strength to get through life’s challenges. We believe he works miracles. So for the next two days we and the people around us asked God to heal Katie’s baby and restore her heart to normalcy.
We believe God worked a miracle
Late Thursday morning Katie texted us as she and her husband, Vic, left their follow-up appointment with the pediatric cardiologist. The news was breathtaking:
Just finished ultrasound and met with cardiologist. Her heart is PERFECT. They found everything that needs to be there and had no concerns whatsoever. Will not need to see high risk doc again.
Vic told me later that even he could see the difference between the ultrasound conducted with the cardiologist and that done two days prior with the high-risk doctor. It was clear, he said, that the deformity pointed out to them Tuesday was now—two days later—noticeably absent. The distinction was so marked that the images looked to be of two different hearts.
In forty-eight hours a blood vessel appeared where none had been before and a malformed heart became a normal heart. None of us has any explanation except God. We believe he worked a miracle.
Some people—even believers—wrestle with the notion of miracles, thinking that even if God acted in such fashion in biblical days he doesn’t do so any longer. I don’t buy that argument. If God worked miracles long ago in biblical history I have to believe he still does today. He parted the waters of the Red Sea for Israel to escape Pharaoh’s wrath 3500 years ago; why can he not restore the blood vessels of a baby’s heart?
Other people point to a harder question: Why would God answer the prayers of some parents for their children and not others? For every sick child there are worried parents praying for healing—why do many never recover?
I have to confess that I don’t have a good answer for that. All I can point to is how Jesus invites us to bring all our needs to him and he will answer. What that answer will be I can’t dictate or control. I don’t believe for one moment that our prayers were any more earnest than others or that we somehow had a higher spiritual status than other people. But this time in the mystery and grace of his will God answered in a way that brought him glory and brought us joy.
Humbled by grace
My family is humbled by grace. Should someone who’s experienced such a miraculous act of God keep quiet about it or give glory to God? The Scriptures say we should do the latter, while at the same time standing alongside the many other people wrestling with grief and pain because their loved one didn’t recover. The pain of the prayer that wasn’t answered shouldn’t quell the joy of the one that was. In fact, the two actually complement one another. There will be times in the future when I’ll be sure to ask, “Lord, why haven’t you responded to my prayer?” but will then be able to rejoice with those around me who experienced a happier outcome to their prayers.
Back to Katie. In the aftermath of the good news she and Vic finally announced a name for their baby girl. Pam and I had been after them for weeks to share the name, but I don’t think they’d settled on it yet. Now they have. Her name is Brynn (Welsh for “hill”) Victoria (the feminine form of her father’s name). Brynn Victoria, rendered, at least to me, as “Mountain of Victory.”
(Thanks to Readers’ Digest for the image at top)