by Brenda Smith
When I entered seminary for a Master’s in Children and Family Ministry, I thought I knew the definition of a family. On the first day, we had to define “family.” It got complicated quickly. Does family include only biological? Does it include those who have been like family in every way? Isn’t there a spiritual family we have through church? What about step siblings, step parents – do I consider them my family? – because I have six of them who are also married with children. It took the rest of the day to create a definition. The only sure conclusion was each person defines family in their own way and my definition keeps growing!
I always wanted a son. I got my wish when a young man, named Bill, moved in with us for his junior and senior year of high school. He became our son to me and my husband, and a brother to our three daughters. We supported him through college. Bill married Jenn. Both were in the first young adult Sunday class that I initiated in my last church. The first class had 3 young adults. Two married each other and the third just finished seminary. I cannot take credit for any of it.
Jenn became pregnant and Nate was born at 22 weeks and 1 day old in 2012. He weighed only 1 pound and 1 ounce. It was only a decade ago this was considered unsurvivable. In a 2015 Women’s Health magazine article, 22 weeks is now considered the lowest viable age with survivability percentages around 21% with medical intervention. This means that 75% do not survive. My husband noted that right away.
We all wanted Nate to survive! We prayed hard and long. Bill and Jenn had their church praying. Jenn had her parent’s church praying. Our three daughters had their churches and friends praying. I had my church and anyone offering to pray. Survival was going to be a miracle and even more miraculous would be overcoming severe disabilities from being so premature.
We had so many people praying that I am sure God could not ignore us. We prayed and watched. Bill and Jenn spent time with Nate every day – visiting the hospital. We were encouraged with every report. Nate never faltered in his progress. He never developed a medical complication common in preemies – infections, medication challenges, sudden emergencies with his lungs, feeding tube, IV port problems – nothing. I have worked in the hospital setting for 15 years and so I knew this was truly amazing!
He came home on his official due date 5 months later. The Children’s Miracle Network chose him as the poster child for 2014. He received all the pro-active care, treatment, and options available to help him catch up. At age 4, this year, he is thriving with some minor challenges from being born so premature.
Nate is a miracle! He beat the odds because God is sovereign. All of us acknowledged that God answered our prayers and blessed Nate with good healthcare throughout the ordeal.
It wasn’t that God promised Nate’s survival. I knew God was with Nate and with all of us. Nate was in God’s hands and that was the most important thing for me to believe. There truly was no more we could do but trust God and wait. Without a doubt, we all give God the credit and acknowledge God’s personal and real presence in this journey. Even though our families were miles and states apart, together we were one in Christ. God gave us peace and took care of Nate. In hindsight, it became crystal clear God heard our prayers and was working the whole time.
Sometimes, like Nate, our hands are tied in certain situations and we must trust God. It’s like the bigger the problem, the more we have to let go and give it to God. If God can handle the big things, God surely can handle the small. This experience truly humbled me and put in perspective my duty to trust God when I pray. We bless God with our belief and trust. In turn, God truly wants to bless each of us. Our relationship with God is real and personal. Jesus is here day to day in the battles of life because He cares about us, always.