Wednesday, January 16, 2013

For This Child I Prayed

"For this child I prayed;
and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him..."
I Samuel 1:27

Remember the prayer request that was listed on Homespun Devotions
for the little baby boy named Jackson?

Things didn't look good for him for a while.
He was born prematurely and had a very bumpy ride for the months that followed.
To those of you who prayed for him,
it is with joy that I announce that today is his first birthday!

I saw pictures of him today.
He is quite a little doll...
and very healthy looking.

It is amazing what God can do.
In spite of medical wisdom,
contrary to our doubts and fears.
God can do the impossible.

Every baby is a miracle.
Every life is precious in His sight.

Last night, Zachary and I sat and talked (in vague, general terms :-)
about my infertility issues before God sent him to us.
I told him how the last specialist I visited asked me,
"Cheryl, do you want to try fertility drugs?
Or do you just want to feel better?"

At that point in time,
after trying unsuccessfully for nearly 12 years to conceive a child,
I looked at the doctor in total exasperation and replied,
"I just want to feel better."

She gave Kevin and me very little to no hope of ever having a baby of our own.
Even if we would have opted to take the offered fertility drugs,
her professional opinion was that there was very little chance of them making a difference.

I left her office feeling completely dejected...
and less than a woman should ever feel.
Why couldn't I just conceive like everyone else?
Why did I have to have the medical issues I had?
What had I done to deserve it?
I longed for a baby.
My maternal instincts were in overdrive...
with no where to place all the love in my heart.

It was a sad day.
She nearly removed our last shred of hope...
of ever holding our own baby in our arms.
We considered adoption.
Something held us back.
Our hearts went out to the many babies in need of parents,
but somewhere deep inside we still held a tiny reserve of faith that God would one day 
bless us with a child of our very own.
After all, I had that promise from Him...
somewhere in the back of my mind...
buried under all of the disappointment,
shattered hopes,
and discouraging medical reports.

We were both working hard in our banking careers,
with me working part-time, at that point. 
I wanted to do something to make a little extra income,
so I took a little side-job stuffing envelopes at home.

After a short time,
I noticed I began to be nauseous...really often.
I concluded it was from the scent of the glue on the envelopes.
Each time I came near it,
I got really sick.

The strange thing was that during this time Kevin also became very ill.
I remember him lying on the bathroom floor, very sick, 
at the same time I was so desperately nauseated.
I couldn't help him, and he couldn't help me!

Thinking it must be the envelopes,
we gave up the part-time side job.
It seems so humorous to me now!

Neither of us felt any better afterwards.
Instead, we both felt worse.
Almost three years before,
Kevin had spent a few days in the hospital due to severe abdominal pain.
The doctor had suspected a certain condition and sent him home
with a refillable-as-needed prescription to have filled and take as needed.
When he became ill at the same time I did,
the doctor felt he needed further testing, 
so he scheduled a colonoscopy.

I remember sitting in his hospital room...alone...
waiting for him to return from his procedure...
feeling terribly sick...
worrying about him...
wondering what was going on with both of us...
and praying with all my heart.

Kevin's test confirmed the condition the doctor had suspected.
Thankfully, we were told that the episodes could be kept minimal
through changes in diet and preventive methods.
We were so relieved....
and grateful to God.

After we left the hospital that morning,
we went to TGIF for lunch.
Looking across the table at Kevin,
I mentioned that I was having some physical issues,
other than the continual nausea.
I remember the hope that sprang into his eyes,
as he asked,
"Do you want to get a pregnancy test?"

"No!" I quickly answered.
We had been through this scenario so many times through the years.
I could not bear one more negative result.

"I just can't go through it again.
It would just be a waste of money",
I continued, 
watching disappointment replace hope...
in his eyes.

My heart went out to him in a thousand ways.
He wanted a baby.
What man doesn't?
Someone to love...
to call his own...
to raise...
to pass his things on to?

Why was I such a failure?
Why couldn't I do anything right?
Why was I so incapable...
of giving the man I loved more than life...
a child of his own???

That moment was a very low point in my life.
I remember it like it was yesterday.

Later that evening, I thought of Kevin's words
and how disappointed he had looked sitting there...
across the table from me...
when I had said "no".

I reconsidered.

What would it hurt?
To spend the $10 and buy one more test?

We drove to Walgreen's and bought the test.
I was hesitant,
but my expectations were low,
so there would be no disappointment.
Not this time.

Boy, was I right...
but not for the reason I thought.
I stood in total disbelief as I viewed the results.
It was inconceivable.
There must be a mistake.
The test was obviously inaccurate.
Maybe it was expired...
or defective.
But, the positive reading absolutely could NOT be right...

The doctor's words were still fresh in my mind.

Kevin waited nearby.
I peeked around the corner and told him the news.

You're kidding."

"No, I'm not kidding.
It shows positive."

We were guarded...
afraid to get excited.

So, what did we do?
We drove back to Walgreens and bought two more tests!
Different brands this time...
to compare results.

One was clearly positive.
One was "iffy".

The next day (Friday) I went to the doctor and was told they would do bloodwork,
but I wouldn't get the results until the following Monday.
That was a whole weekend away,
and I decided I couldn't wait that long!
I drove straight to the lab,
had my blood drawn,
and got a phone call at work later that afternoon.

It was the news we had longed to hear for nearly 12 years!

After a very hard pregnancy,
with many scares along the way,
God sent us the sweetest gift
we could ever have imagined.

I'll never forget the moment they placed him in my arms...
for the very first time.
How do you ever describe that feeling?
Only a mother can relate.
The one who was only moments before in the womb...
now in the arms.
That little bundle of love, energy, and happiness
 brightens our lives
in a million ways...every, single day.
I can't believe it has been 12 years...
since I first felt what it really feels like...
to be a mother.
To watch Kevin's face beam with pride,
as the nurse dropped his son into his waiting arms.

During my pregnancy,
I thought much of today's Passage of Scripture.
The words were spoken by Hannah,
who had struggled with infertility
and had waited long for a child of her own.

I also thought of the other barren Bible women...
women who were my personal heroes of faith...
Sarah, (mother of Isaac),
 Rebekah, (mother of Jacob & Esau)
  Rachel, (mother of Joseph & Benjamin)
 Manoah's wife (mother of Samson),
and Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist),
all of whom completely understood what I was going through.
They, like me, had experienced the overwhelming weight of failure,
the emptiness of an infertile womb,
the deep, lonely ache of childless arms,
an indescribable compassion for their fatherless husbands,
and a deep-seated sense of being unfulfilled.

Rachel's anguish over her infertility is loudly spoken in Genesis 30:1,
"And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children,
Rachel...said unto Jacob,
Give me children, or else I die."

I also thought of the miracle God performed each time He opened their wombs...
to carry very special babies....
who would grow and become men of God
chosen to minister in very special ways.

I've always felt I relate to Hannah the most.
Her husband, Elkanah loved her...dearly.
When Hannah became distressed over her inability to conceive a child,
Elkanah spoke gently to her.
"Then said Elkanah her husband to her,
Hannah, why weepest thou?
and why eatest thou not?
and why is thy heart grieved?
am not I better to thee than ten sons?"
(I Samuel 1:8)

Of course, Hannah loved Elkanah.
Her love for him was part of the reason for her tears.
She wanted to give him what he deserved.
She wanted to mother his child.
It was the one thing she wanted more than anything else,
and it was the one thing Elkanah could not change for her.

He couldn't,
but God could.
Hannah the presence of Eli, the priest.
He saw her mouth moving, but heard no audible words.
He falsely accused her of being drunk.
He had no idea...
what was going on under the surface...
inside of Hannah.

I do.

God heard her cry.
He opened her womb.
She conceived a child.
They named him Samuel.
He was one of the greatest prophets in the history of the nation of Israel.
He lived a long, faithful-to-God life,
and died of old age...still faithful.

Are you in an impossible situation?
Does it seem there is no hope?
Perhaps you, too, struggle with infertility.
Maybe you've heard the same words I have.
I have often wished I would have walked into that doctor's office
with Zachary in my arms, after he was born....
just to testify...
that medical science is not the authority.
That God moves mountains.
That He still opens wombs.
He still heals all manner of sickness and disease.

no one really understands how I ever conceived a child.
It did not happen a second time.
There really was no humanly-possible way
to overcome the obstacles
that prevented conception.
There really was no humanly-possible way
for me to carry Zachary full-term.

So, you tell me,
how did it happen?

Later, I was told there was a lot of concern that I would miscarry.
They never mentioned it to me.
I'm glad they didn't.

God had His caring eye on Zachary...
the whole, entire time.
God wanted this child to be born.

I told him as we talked the other night,
that God has a special plan for his life.
I reminded him of Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samuel, Samson, & John the Baptist,
and what a difficult time their mothers had
conceiving and delivering them into the world.

God has a special plan for all lives.
No one is born by accident.
No life should be dubbed an accident.

Whatever your challenge,
don't give up hope.
Never give up hope.
You may have suffered for many years...
in silence...
feeling less than what you should be...
struggling with a multitude of issues.
You may have heard the diagnosis.
The doctor may have made his predictions,
shared his prognosis.
He isn't the final word.
Perhaps you feel like the biggest failure on earth.
Maybe you fear God has forsaken you...
that He stopped listening to you pray a long time ago.
That this is the way life is always going to be.

Maybe someone reading this is alone,
wishing for their soul mate,
longing to someone else,
but with little hope of ever finding the right person.

God sees your emptiness.
He knows your inmost longings...
for love...
for companionship...
for someone who will never leave.
He feels the pain of your empty, childless arms.
He created you to yearn for these things.

Don't stop believing.
God is still God.
His power still trumps all others.
He still has a plan.
His eye is still upon you.
Don't stop asking Him...
for the things you desire.

For this child I prayed.
It felt like a very long wait...
from the time He promised us a child,
until the day Zachary was in my arms.
But, God didn't forget His promise.

For this child I prayed.
He answered...
12 1/2 years later...
in His Own time.

His timing couldn't have been more perfect.
I see that now.
I didn't see it then.
Perhaps, you do not see...
or understand...
the reason for God's delays...
in your life...
in your situation.

Just hold on, my friend.
Don't give up.
Keep praying.

One day, it will all make perfect sense.

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