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Expecting a Miracle
by Amy DeLoach
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
An edgy silence enveloped the darkened room as the radiologist quietly folded his arms, and studied the sonogram of my unborn son. Minutes passed slowly, while the monitor’s dim glow illuminated the concern on the doctor’s wrinkled brow. Uneasy, I strained for a glimpse of the screen. “Is there a problem with his head?” I asked, shattering the silence.
“No,” he said flatly, rushing out the door. “Everything’s fine.”
Though puzzled by the unusual scene, I buried any doubt, patted my expanding tummy, and breathed a sigh of relief. I was grateful for good news. In two brief months, my husband Scott and I were joyfully expecting the arrival of our third child.
Life, in fact, had never been better. As Christians, Scott and I felt truly thankful for God’s abundant blessings: ten wonderful years of marriage, two precious daughters, and a lovely home. Scott’s successful Air Force career even enabled me to stay home with our girls. Still, I couldn’t deny the elusive heaviness tugging at my heart. Though I spent time regularly in Bible study and prayer, my spiritual life had grown lukewarm, more a routine than a relationship.
Sunlight streamed across the crowded sanctuary as my family and I arrived for worship the following Sunday. Despite the inviting atmosphere, I felt an intangible emptiness envelope me once again. I slipped into my choir robe and filed in with the other singers as usual, but while voices filled the air with praise, my restless mind drifted. Searching my heart for answers, I silently prayed: Lord, please show me your truth.
My thoughts refocused as Pastor Lambert presented his message. Like brushstrokes on a canvas, his words created a masterpiece revealing the splendor and majesty of our Heavenly Father. Captivated by the glory of God, something stirred deep within my heart. As the service closed, I knelt at the altar and recommitted my life to Christ.
The arrival of a new season echoed the joy in my heart as I drove to the Offutt Air Force Base Medical Center for a routine OB appointment the following week. Chrysanthemums bursting with color caught my eye, while gold and crimson leaves rustled in the crisp morning breeze. Basking in the peace of God’s presence, I sensed my world was in perfect harmony.
I waited patiently in the exam room until the stiff military doctor opened the door. With his eyes glued to my chart, the obstetrician’s tone was dry and matter-of-fact. “Of course, they told you what the ultrasound detected. He’s hydrocephalic. With the ventricles full of fluid, it’s impossible for the brain to develop.”
Stunned, I felt my perfect world shattering. Barely able to suppress my anguish, I rushed to the van and raced home to call Scott. A flood of questions twisted and tangled my thoughts. Is there any hope for this baby? How could I ever face his death? I just rededicated my life to You, God! Don’t You promise to protect believers from harm?
Due to the severity of our baby’s condition, we received an immediate referral off base to perinatalogist Dr. John Riley*, promptly scheduled a consultation, and prayed this nightmare was simply a terrible mistake. After a few sleepless nights, we arrived for our appointment with frazzled nerves but high hopes.
Dr. Riley’s welcoming smile, quiet confidence, and reassuring manner soon put me at ease. “I’m sorry about your situation,” he said. “Test results do confirm a diagnosis of hydrocephaly. However, the good news is all life-threatening diseases associated with this disorder have been ruled-out.”
The physician carefully explained the complications we could expect: mental retardation, Downs-related symptoms, heart problems, poor motor skills, and more. “Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do,” he said. “The only option is—abortion.”
Dazed and speechless, I heard Scott’s firm response. “No!”
Night and day, I struggled to accept the heartbreaking truth. My baby would be born with this birth defect and neither I, nor medical science could do anything about it. I sensed God ask, Will you turn to Me, or turn to the world? The world offered no hope. I had to depend on God alone and pray for the grace to handle whatever my son’s condition might be.
To conceal our anxiety, Scott and I kept busy with our girls and tried to concentrate on other interests. Scott focused on directing the Thanksgiving play he’d written for our church while I plunged into projects at home. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Phil. 1:6), I often reminded myself, but sometimes it was impossible to stifle the pain.
One rainy afternoon I tried to relax but soon grew restless. So, I rummaged through Scott’s toolbox for hammer and nails to hang a few family photos in the upstairs hall, then spread the pictures across the floor to choose the best arrangement. Surrounded by the smiling faces of loved ones, all my defenses crumbled. A flood of emotions swept over me as I wondered: Who would my baby look like? What color would his hair be? Immersed under the pressure, I completely broke down
Keeping busy helped pass the time each day, but the nights always seemed harder. After bedtime prayers and kisses with our precious daughters, our home was quiet. Too quiet. To vanquish the silence and our anxious thoughts, Scott and I found laughter a good medicine. So, each night we snuggled together watching old sitcoms until we fell asleep.
Yet, through it all, God blessed us abundantly. Enveloped in the love and prayers of family and friends, we never walked alone. Together, we prepared for the worst and prayed for a miracle.
Clinging to the assurance of God’s Word daily, I focused less on my fears and more on His faithfulness. Often I received an encouraging card or comforting Scripture precisely when needed most and learned that “God is [my] refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1).
Our trust in God grew stronger. Our peace began to build.
As the weeks passed, Dr. Riley monitored the baby’s condition with frequent exams and a variety of high-tech diagnostics. Careful scrutiny of the data by the chief radiologist even gave us a little hope. “Fortunately, it’s not the worst case scenario,” he assured. Still, my OB scheduled an early delivery with surgery soon after to insert a shunt for draining fluid off the baby’s brain.
When November finally arrived, I felt confident in God’s faithfulness and Dr. Riley’s expertise. Just before the scheduled delivery, Scott and I went in for our final ultrasound. By now, the whole procedure seemed routine. The radiology tech set up the equipment, and soon Dr. Riley entered the darkened room to observe the test. Suddenly, he whispered to the technician, pointed at the monitor, and abruptly left the room.
My heart sank once again! Frozen in fear, I held my breath. What now, Lord Jesus? I shot a glance at my husband. Scott’s jaw was firm as he studied the illuminated screen. Soon a familiar half-grin spread knowingly across his face, and looking up, his eyes locked with mine.
“Folks, I have no explanation for this,” Dr. Riley said as he returned. “I contacted my colleague on the East Coast, and he has no explanation either. We’ve never seen or heard of any case of hydrocephaly—resolving on it’s own before birth.” He shook his head. “I see it, but I just can’t believe it!”
“It’s the power of prayer!” I cried, my eyes misty.
“Well, whatever you’re doing,” he chuckled, “keep on doing it.”
Scott and I left the doctor’s office beaming with delight. Snowflakes danced in the frosty air as we strolled arm in arm to our van, cranked up the music, and sang praises to God all the way home.
With grateful hearts, we rejoiced with our loved ones and praised Jesus for His awesome power!
Two weeks later, our precious son was born—perfectly normal and healthy in every way. What a joy to hold this newborn miracle in my arms! We named him Zachary Thomas. We chose Zachary, which means “Jehovah hath remembered our prayers,” and Thomas for our doubts.
I’ll never forget the wonder on Dr. Riley’s face when he examined Zachary in the delivery room. For weeks afterward, the puzzled physician carried a photo of Zachary’s abnormal ultrasound in his lab coat pocket. At the hospital, he often showed it to others, shaking his head in amazement, “Now, see that fluid right there. . . .”
Several days later, our entire family attended the performance of Scott’s play, “The Thanksgiving Zone.” Our church family gathered around us with excitement to see our tiny miracle. One of the members, a doctor of genetics, marveled as he touched Zachary’s little head. Another invited him to play baby Jesus in the Christmas pageant.
“What an incredible blessing to see Grandpa DeLoach holding his newborn grandson!” Pastor Lambert exclaimed from the pulpit. “This isn’t a medical miracle. It’s God’s miracle! He can do what medical science cannot do—for all things are possible with God!”
“O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things” Isaiah 25:1
O Father, in awesome wonder I proclaim Your faithfulness and tremendous love at work in my life. When circumstances are beyond my understanding, You faithfully care for me and tenderly carry me through. My joy and gratitude are infinite! My heart will sing of Your steadfast love forever! Amen.
Excerpt from Experiencing the Great I Am, by Bryant & Cindy Heflin, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Copyright © 2005, Bryant & Cindy Heflin, All rights reserved
This article may NOT be reprinted without written permission from the author. For reprint rights or comments/questions about this article, please contact the author.
Read an Excerpt by Michael W. Smith
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