My heart pounded inside my chest, and I was suddenly out of breath. Once again my breathing intensified, and I sat down heavily on the closest chair to ensure that I, along with the growing baby inside my belly, would not plummet to the ground. Lord, why do I keep having these near-fainting spells? Please take this dizziness from me! It seemed this was one prayer that wasn’t being answered in the way I was hoping for, but in the meantime I trusted God.
My blood pressure remained quite low throughout my pregnancy, and yet none of the tests the neonatal and cardiac specialists performed revealed the cause. Routine tasks, sometimes even sitting, produced these debilitating moments. Many times the alert on my Apple watch would sound the alarm that something was wrong with my heart. A Holter monitor was used to track these episodes for a period of time, and although they were well documented, everything showed that my heart was working properly and that there was nothing to be concerned about. So I went about my days, drinking lots of water and praying for strength—and for God to remove this malady from me.
The pinnacle moment was early one Sabbath when I joined the prayer team at Church in the Valley for our regular morning prayer walk. I was touching each seat, praying for the people who would sit in them for worship when the dizziness suddenly hit, and I had to sit down. This heavily pregnant woman caused quite a stir for those in the sanctuary that morning! My husband was even called to my side. Once again we prayed, this time with the prayer team joining us. I was reminded of the 31 Days of Prayer we had been a part of nearly two years prior, and how I had written down a simple private request for a baby to join our family at the appropriate time. This baby nestled in my womb was the miracle I had asked God for. So why was the path to welcoming this little one marred with such terrifying moments? I didn’t have to wait long for my answer.
Soon after, while 36 weeks pregnant, the specialists sent me to a new cardiovascular surgeon. Upon meeting, Dr. Khambati extended his hand and said, “Congratulations on surviving your pregnancy!” His words immediately caused my ears to tingle. Was this real? My surgeon continued to explain that what had been presumed as a scar from a previous injury on my abdominal aorta was actually an extremely rare and dangerous saccular aneurysm. Making it rarer still was the fact that I was pregnant. Were it to burst, my unborn baby and I would die within minutes. Suddenly the reason that my blood pressure kept plummeting for all of these months became clear. My husband and I found ourselves praising God for not answering our prayers in the way that we had asked, because He was literally preserving my life and our baby’s! Had my blood pressure been raised as requested, we would have both perished.
The following week was a flurry of excitement and anxiousness as my baby was born via C-section (to prevent the aneurysm from bursting). I now needed to recover from the birth and have the problem corrected with a stent at a later date. In the meantime I was able to focus on getting to know this sweet baby girl that had joined our family of boys. But all too soon our excitement was dampened by the news that I did not qualify for a stent. A simple, nearly painless procedure that had me going home the same day was now turning into a seriously invasive surgery, one in which I would not even be able to carry my baby for two months, with a total recovery time of one year. Those were tough days. The Lord brought this verse to my mind more than once: “ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6).
Most days I had to live day by day, and sometimes it was a moment-by-moment process. The pressure and burden of living a real-life game of roulette is not easy. It can present itself as a draining vortex that makes us feel an immense pressure of responsibility to stay alive for family and friends. I wanted my children to have a mother and my husband to have a wife. I wanted to grow old with him and to see my children graduate, marry, and start families of their own. I carried on as normally as I could, and learned in the process to say every day, “This is good.”
Gaining a New Perspective
What if we don’t get the miracle we have asked for? What if the pain and suffering doesn’t end in the way or the timing we ask? On the path to learning to say, “This is good,” I came to this place of agreement that it wasn’t only about me, and I grieved what I needed to grieve. The more I practiced saying “This is good,” as the seemingly bad things presented themselves in my life, the more it became action within me. I was able to let go of doing things on my own, and allowed God to do His work within me.
“Ask, then; ask, and ye shall receive. Ask for humility, wisdom, courage, increase of faith. To every sincere prayer an answer will come. It may not come just as you desire, or at the time you look for it; but it will come in the way and at the time that will best meet your need. The prayers you offer in loneliness, in weariness, in trial, God answers, not always according to your expectations, but always for your good.”*
I went through with the big surgery when my daughter was 9 months old. I am so grateful for the many friends and family members God blessed me with who gave meals, funds, child care, encouragement, and tended to me and my baby with round-the-clock care. The time spent in the hospital and the road to recovery was difficult, painful, and long with many challenges. I learned that my suffering does not change or diminish God’s power, but His influence in the midst of my suffering changes and empowers me. I continue to thank Him for the painful situations I go through! He saved my life and that of my daughter, and then He showed me the good through my disappointments and challenges of recovery. And the best part is that now He sends people my way to minister to, people who face similar challenges. O Lord, when our eyes are so blinded by circumstance, worry, and care, help us remember to lift up our eyes and know where our help comes from. It is not always in the seeing, but in the doing, in spite of the darkness of our situations. Please fill us with Your Holy Spirit and give us divine opportunities to serve You even as we accept the process of suffering. We want to continually say, “This is good!” and to acknowledge You as the God of provision; therefore, we ask for You to empower us in the midst of our suffering and that of others. We ask this all in the precious name of Jesus. Amen!
* Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1915), p. 258.