“We may have to deliver your baby prematurely to save her life.” Those words made us nervous. We discovered very early in pregnancy that our daughter, Abby, had some heart conditions.
An extra electrical pathway caused her heart to race 200+ beats per minute. She was born close to full term but wasn’t breathing when she arrived. The whole NICU team was in our room as she was delivered, as opposed to our other two kids having two or three doctors and nurses in the room.
They quickly rushed her out and she spent almost two weeks in the NICU. We brought her home on my birthday and for her first seven years her heart raced out of control on many occasions, sometimes causing us to end up in the ER.
Then, the day came for her to have heart surgery to hopefully correct this condition. There were no guarantees and with any surgery possible complications. For the most part, I was at peace. But part of me was anxious.
What would be the outcome? Would this work? Would God heal her? The doctors allowed us to come back with her and pray with her before surgery. We prayed for healing and a perfect surgery as she slipped under sedation.
“Trust the Lord with all your heart” was the Scripture that kept entering my mind. I could trust Him no doubt with my heart, but could I trust Him with hers? I felt like the Lord was doing heart surgery on me that day. We sat in the waiting room with several close friends and family.
During our wait I couldn’t help but think of verses with the word “heart” in them. “In this world you will have trouble but take heart, I have overcome the world.” “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart.” Those brought me comfort. Then, I thought of Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail.” Wait, what?! This was not the verse I needed at the moment. But God quickly reminded me of the rest of the verse. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” How quickly we rush to fear and don’t trust Him.
While we waited, we laughed, talked about how the Lord had healed before and could do it again, prayed, and grew closer to those surrounding us in that moment. How could we act like our Abby wasn’t having heart surgery? Why weren’t we a nervous wreck? We really were at peace because Jesus was our Prince of Peace. Then a woman came over to us and said, “Be quiet. Don’t you know people in here are waiting on their loved ones in life and death situations? You’re being rude.”
My first internal reaction was, “No, lady, that’s you!” I wanted to tell her about our daughter in heart surgery and to mind her own business, but the Lord reminded me of His peace. I didn’t say anything like that. I apologized as our intention wasn’t to be insensitive to those around us. We were just really caught up in the Peace that transcends understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). Jesus was guarding our hearts and minds in those suspenseful moments. Her surgery was a success!
Almost four years later, she hasn’t had a single heart episode and is medicine free. While we rejoiced in her healing, we were at peace with whatever the outcome would be. We trusted God in the storm not just when the storm went away.
“I will thank the Lord with all my heart and tell of His wonderful deeds” (Psalm 9:1).
Stephen Harrison is the lead pastor of Family Church at White Hall.
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