‘On Eagles’ Wings’ – A Look at Support During A Difficult Pregnancy

It all began innocuously enough. A phone call, a cry for help. That’s what this ministry is all about. Help, love, support. Usually the call is from a distant place. The faces remain anonymous, the problems obscured by distance. But this time was different. Our help was needed by people within driving distance of the national office, and they desperately wanted time with us. The date was set.

“I am Jesus little lamb;
Ever glad at heart I am,
For my Shepherd gently guides me,
Knows my needs and well provides me,
Loves me every day the same,
Even calls me by my name!”

How sweet the sound of a little voice singing those words. As the family (mom, dad, their two little girls and grandparents) arrived in the national office, one of the little girls sang me that song. How was I to know of the tears that would follow? The story came out in bursts of emotion. The little girls’ brother, Christopher, was being called home by the Shepherd. The problem was, Christopher was still unborn; in fact, he was only in the fourth month of gestation. A routine ultrasound revealed that Christopher had “anencephaly” or a marked absence of brain development and absence of cranial bones. Abortion of this “defective” child was highly encouraged. Indeed, according to the doctors, mom’s life depended on it. That last statement was what I needed to tune down the emotions and tune up the medical knowledge.

Why would the mother’s life be in jeopardy? It was the baby whose life was on a shoestring! It turns out the doctors had told the parents the mother was at high risk for developing toxemia, a complication of pregnancy. However, mom had already had two successful pregnancies, no prior history of toxemia, no history of high blood pressure or diabetes and was not the age of a woman at risk for toxemia. A quick check of her blood pressure in my office indicated her blood pressure was completely normal. And, if toxemia would develop, delivery resolves the problem. It appeared the doctors had told them mom was at risk to make them feel better about aborting their baby.

“Have we trials and temptations?
If there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
take it to the Lord in prayer.”

Imagine the trial and temptation involved here. Our quick fix society again encouraging a quick fix. Why burden mom with a long pregnancy and no infant to take home? Why force life on this child who has no hope for a lengthy “normal” life? As Christians, we look to the Book of Life for answers and we find “…God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…” (Ephesians 2:45) It is sin which brings grief and trouble to the world, yet God made Christopher, and He promises Christopher eternal life in Christ. Who are we to negate that? The family was encouraged to pray and hold on to Christopher’s tenuous life, hoping for the gift of birth and Baptism to comfort them with knowledge of meeting Christopher in heaven. We readily acknowledged the Lord could call Christopher home before his birth, but how much better to let Him decide that! In the meantime, his sisters could sing to him…

“Who so happy as I am,
Even now the Shepherd’s lamb?
And when my short life is ended,
by his angel hosts attended,
He shall fold me to his breast,
There within his arms to rest.”

Prayer changes things. How many times have you heard that? Daily we see evidence of it if we but look. On August 5, 1999, the power of prayer was again revealed. Little Christopher, against all odds, was born to his earthly life to be held and baptized into faith in Christ Jesus. Although several doctors refused to become involved and declined to participate in the delivery, labor was short and Christopher survived the ordeal. He was welcomed by his parents, grandparents and sisters, who were allowed 35 magnificent hours to love and cuddle him. Before he died, his mother repeated the words of a beautiful hymn:

“Go my children, with my blessing,
Never alone.
Waking, sleeping, I am with you:
you are my own.
In my love’s baptismal river
I have made you mine forever.
Go my children, with my blessing
You are my own.” *

Where does one find the inner fortitude to survive an ordeal like this? Over my years of working with the ill and dying I have often asked myself this question. It has become clear over time that those with a firm foundation in the Lord are the ones who overcome their grief and become stronger for it. The parents of Christopher proved to me, once again, that in times of strife “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

How often have you dealt with darkness and the deep despair of the soul? None of us are immune, although some people appear to have it worse than others. Yet with the promise of eternal Life, we can survive, because we know: “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.” Truly we survive the trials and temptations of this world because we have a friend in Jesus!

* First Stanza of “Go My Children, With My Blessing” 1983 Jaroslav J. Vajda. Used by permission.

~ By Mary Snyder, R.N.


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