Saturday, March 29, 2014

Encircled by His love

--written by Rob Peterson--

When our family went for the ultrasound to see our youngest child for the first time, we expected nothing unusual. My wife’s four previous pregnancies had all been normal and we had no reason to think this one would be any different. 
It was very different. 
When we asked if everything was okay, the doctor just smiled and said we would talk when she was done. We waited in a cubicle while she reviewed the images.

After what seemed an eternity, we were informed of several malformations involving our baby’s bladder and rectum, the kidneys, and the heart. The bladder and rectum issue was usually fatal.
My wife was in tears. I was numb. We questioned God, “Why?” His response, “Just trust Me.” So we prayed and tried to trust.

Future ultrasounds revealed the worst diagnosis was false. There were problems with the bladder and one kidney. The heart seemed fine. By the time Josiah was born, we knew he had one good kidney and that there were cysts in his bladder, but everything worked and we went home thinking we could settle down to enjoy our baby.

By three months we realized Josiah was not growing as he should and took him to our pediatrician. After listening to his heart she said, “He has a significant heart murmur.” She made an appointment with a cardiologist who discovered that he had a hole in his heart. It was not large enough to warrant immediate surgery, but required careful monitoring. 

Again, our question for God was, “Why?” His response, “Just trust Me.” So we prayed and tried to trust.

Josiah’s growth needed to meet certain minimums to avoid surgery and we returned home determined to help him grow. He didn’t nurse well so my wife pumped breast milk to provide him the best nutrition and, for the next few weeks, he just met those growth requirements.

About this time our daughter was asked to be in a wedding in Montana. We had planned to make a vacation of it, camping the whole way. A doctor friend suggested we take oxygen and an oximeter as a precaution, since we would be at high altitudes. We requested these items from the cardiologist, but she felt these measures weren’t needed since high altitudes ordinarily relieve the symptoms of a hole in the heart.

Heading up the mountains west of Denver, Josiah began to turn blue around the lips and show signs of distress. At the emergency room, his oxygen levels tested low. After a phone consultation with our doctor friend, we decided it would be safe to proceed on our trip – with oxygen. We made it over the mountains. It was Friday evening.

By Sunday morning Josiah was not well. Our other children had the flu, and it appeared he had it as well. He looked bad enough that we cut our visit to Arches National Park short and headed for the children’s hospital in Salt Lake City.

There, on Monday morning, we discovered Josiah was a very sick baby. He had a viral infection which, coupled with the hole in his heart, had sent him into congestive heart failure. We spent a week at the hospital as he recovered from his infection and as the fluid was cleared from his lungs.
Yet again we asked God, “Why?” His response remained the same, “Just trust Me.” So we prayed and tried to trust.

The rest of our trip was a blur of oxygen tanks, tubes, and beeps. The wedding, visiting friends, and three days of camping on our way home; all were overshadowed by our intense focus on Josiah’s oxygen levels. We arrived home exhausted, thankful, and with a different attitude toward surgery. We were ready!

At ten months, Josiah had open heart surgery to repair the hole in his heart.
It’s impossible to describe our feelings as the nurses took our son from our arms and walked down the hall. We wondered, “Why? Why us? Why our son? What purpose could there possibly be in all this?”But God whispered again, “Just trust Me.” So we prayed again – and trusted! 

It was an incredible experience. God’s presence had never seemed so real. It was almost as if we could see His arms of love encircling us. We didn’t worry; we just rested in His presence.

Surgery was very successful and Josiah’s heart is working fine now, however, along the way we discovered that his problems were caused by a genetic condition which has additional symptoms. Having seen multitudes of specialists, we now praise God that his symptoms are mild compared to what they could have been. His development is delayed and he requires several kinds of therapy, but he is the joy of our lives. We are no longer asking, “Why?”

This experience reminds me of something I once read; 
“The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ.... Nothing can touch him except by our Lord’s permission, and ‘all things’ that are permitted ‘work together for good to them that love God."

The truth of this quote has become very real and precious to us. We have learned that we don’t need, or even want, to know why. All we need to know is that we are encircled by His love.                                                                                                        

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