“Your baby is not going to make it. She will eventually die.” Sitting behind his desk, my gynecologist gave my husband and me this difficult news. It was my nineteenth week of pregnancy.
Having had only one child after seventeen years of marriage and several miscarriages early in pregnancies, my husband and I were surprised I was pregnant at age forty-five. At nineteen weeks, the ultrasound technician saw that our baby girl, Emma Ruth, measured two weeks behind in growth. My placenta wasn’t adequately nourishing her, though her heart rate and movements were normal. Before going into that ultrasound, I had a strange sense that things were not okay. God had been preparing me for some difficult news. The Lord had laid on my heart a particular Mac Lynch song, “I’ll Never Leave You, Never Forsake You,” as I had been preparing to go to the ultrasound. Recently, He had also given me Exodus 33:14, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” What a comfort to my fearful, anxious heart! His presence and peace are always with me. Someone has said, “God’s presence in the trial is much better than His exemption from the trial.”
My doctor told us our baby would just pass away. He said that when I couldn’t feel her move anymore, we would need to induce labor within two weeks. He also informed us that if she did survive the delivery, she probably wouldn’t live long; so he gave me hospice information. That’s when the fear kicked in. I wondered, “When will this occur? Where will we be—since we travel in full-time evangelism? How will this play out?” My mind was tormented with these questions about the unknown. Not only were we having to deal with this trial, but my husband’s sister was at the threshold of death. In fact, she passed away a week after we discovered this news about Emma. But Jesus was with us in the darkness. We knew that, and we clung to that promise. In times of trial, even if you don’t feel His presence, you must acknowledge it. That is half the battle. The anxious thoughts within me sometimes tormented my soul, but then the Lord would minister to my heart through the Holy Spirit and His Word, as well as the devotional book Streams in the Desert.
After burying our dear sister, we left for meetings in the South. Four weeks after discovering our baby had “issues,” I was due for another ultrasound to see how she was doing. The Lord placed us in a church in Tennessee where some dear friends were members. Our friend “just happened” to be a family doctor and arranged an ultrasound for me. While on the ultrasound table, I had a placental abruption and went into labor. The doctor immediately put me in the hospital where they were able to stop the contractions, but he said I was to be on bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy. I couldn’t travel anymore. Our friends took me into their home and lovingly took care of me as my husband and son left Tennessee to travel without me. Tears come to my eyes as I think of this family’s sacrifice and the expert care they gave me. God was calming my fears and taking care of all the details. “O for grace to trust Him more!”
Having been in and out of the hospital for two weeks because of complications, bleeding and contractions, the doctors suggested I have another ultrasound at week twenty-six. At the beginning of the ultrasound, they were alarmed that my daughter’s heart rate was only at sixty beats per minute. My condition was too much for her little body to survive. Then, as we were watching her on the screen, her heart stopped beating. As shocking as that was, it was a comfort to know exactly the moment Emma passed away, and that this was God’s time to take her. Within hours, I went into severe pre-eclampsia and was induced. After delivery, I continued to be very ill and needed a blood transfusion. It was a miracle to be able to attend Emma’s funeral. What a comfort it was to see God in every part of this journey! Everything unfolded exactly as God had planned. He saw the whole picture when I couldn’t see. He was there each step of the way. How wonderful to know that the awareness of God’s presence relieves the torment of fears!
In his book The Red Sea Rules, Robert Morgan encourages us with these words, “When you find yourself between the sword and the sea, remember that difficult times can sensitize us to God’s nearness. He’s never so close as when we’re shipwrecked on omnipotence and driven by despair into His chambers where we find Him a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1). Envision His enveloping presence, and learn to say, I will fear no evil, for YOU are with me, even in dark valleys, and by hostile seas.”
Written by Mary Lynn Van Gelderen. This article was published in the Spring 2013 edition of The Beautiful Spirit magazine.
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