How to Wait for a Miracle
- 2008 13 Nov
It was the afternoon after Christmas when I found myself kneeling on the freeway, hunched over the car seat that held my precious baby. Only moments earlier, 18-month-old Laura had been secure in the backseat of my car as we drove toward home.
But when I saw the red taillights reflecting on the damp pavement, my foot touched the brake and my car jerked out of control. Before I could blink, we'd spun out and slammed into an oncoming minivan. When the car quit spinning, I crawled out of a ragged metal hole and ran toward my daughter’s car seat.
As I stared down at my injured child, my voice lifted in prayer, "Jesus! I need a miracle! Please help Laura!"
I prayed this prayer as I rode in the ambulance to the hospital with my daughter, as I crawled into the hallway and sobbed against the window where the team of doctors fought for Laura’s life, as I collapsed into my husband’s arms when he finally arrived to the waiting room. I prayed this prayer throughout the night and into the gray light of morning.
You would think that after all this praying, Laura’s condition would’ve improved. But instead, Laura’s brain began to swell and her little body began to convulse as she sank into a deep level of unconsciousness.
“You’re daughter is in vegetative state,” the doctor finally told me. But I couldn’t accept his diagnosis. “My God is bigger then your opinion,” I claimed, still calling out to God for a miracle with my whole heart.
But the miracle wouldn’t come. The days began to melt into weeks, then into months. One night, I once again wept as I pounded on the doors of heaven with my prayers. Suddenly, for the first time since our ordeal had begun, I heard the Spirit’s voice. He said, “A year from now you will have a son.”
The idea of another baby was so startling, I told the Lord. “I’m not asking you about another baby, I’m asking you to bring back my daughter.”
But God went silent.
Two weeks later, I faced twenty-four healthcare professionals in a meeting about Laura’s condition.
“Your daughter is not in coma. She’s in a vegetative state.”
“She’ll never wake up.”
“There’s no hope.”
Later that night I sat in the stillness of my daughter’s hospital room, holding her hand, watching for signs of life. As I studied her, Laura looked as if her dark lashes would flutter open and she would sit up, ending our almost three-month-long nightmare.
How I longed to hear Laura’s giggle as she snuggled with her silky hair against my cheek while I read to her from one of her favorite books.
Impulsively, I leaned over and kissed her cherubic face. “Honey, it’s Mommy. I love you...I know you’re in there. I’m waiting....”
The words caught in my throat. The mechanical breathing of her respirator jarred my thoughts. A strange mood of uncertainty settled over me. I looked at the child I had fought and prayed so hard to keep. She’s really in there, isn’t she?
I stood up, trying to shake the doubt that had suddenly caught me off guard. Noticing my watch read 11 p.m., I decided to get ready for bed. Because my husband was out of town, I wouldn’t drive home, but would sleep over in Laura’s room.
Flipping off the light, I shut the door. The nurses had already completed their evening rounds. It would be hours before anyone would check on us. I popped two extra-strength pain relievers and sat the bottle on a nearby tray table beside my glass of water. What if the doctors are right-and Laura never wakes up? I thought as I spread a blanket in the window seat.
Fluffing my pillow, I wondered about God. Maybe He’s abandoned us. Maybe He isn’t going to answer my prayers.
I tried to stifle the emotions that began to boil as Laura’s respirator mocked, no-hope, no-hope, no-hope. My chest constricted as I gasped for air. Everything seemed so different, so pointless. Laura, I decided, would be better off if she were...to die. After all, I concluded, I couldn’t allow her to live in this suspended state of life, could I?
A plan rose from my grief. I couldn’t bear to ask the doctors to take my child off life support after I’d prevented this action once before. But now, I realized Laura’s smile would never return. My dreams for her life were dashed. And God? He had been as silent as Laura’s stilled voice.
Perhaps God’s silence meant I needed to take matters into my own hands. Perhaps it was up to me to end this horrible suffering.
I can kill Laura without the doctor’s help, I reasoned. I can turn off the alarms and unplug the vent from the wall. It would be so simple, except...except, I wondered, if I kill my daughter, how could I live with myself? How could I face Paul or my parents?
The moonlight reflected on my bottle of pain killers. If I swallowed them...no one would find us until morning...Laura and I could...escape...this living hell... Together.
Just as my plan seemed like the only solution, I found my hand resting on my belly. My hidden child was only days old, but I knew he was there.
My thoughts slowly cleared. How could I kill myself? How could I kill Laura? A new life was growing inside of me. A life that had the right to live!
My reasoning returned, Lord, I’m willing to wait—despite the pain and the cost. I’m willing to wait on You.
That night I cried myself to sleep, terrified of the future and terrified of the murders I had almost committed.
A few weeks later, we brought Laura home from the hospital where she continued her profound sleep. Meanwhile, the stirring of life grew in my womb. Nine months later, I put my cheek against Laura’s. With one hand on my swollen belly, I whispered in my sleeping daughter’s ear. “I love you. I have to go to the hospital, but when I come back, I’ll bring you a baby brother.”
Laura gave me no response.
How I dreaded leaving my daughter and how I dreaded bringing home yet another baby. How would this impossible situation even work?
Two days later, just as I promised, I came home from the hospital with Laura’s new born brother and placed him in her arms. It was in that moment, captured on camera, that wonder danced in her eyes. Laura had awakened from her coma! God had used baby Jimmy to save Laura, not once, but twice!
I’d finally gotten my miracle, but it was not the one I’d sought. You see, Laura came back to me disabled, but whole in spirit and innocent in heart, and just in time for Christmas.
As I look back on all that my family and I endured the year my daughter slept, I can now see God’s hand was at work all along. Just as Romans 8:28 promises that all things work for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose, I can look back to see what I couldn’t see at the time. God was growing a miracle inside of me.
Could it be that despite your own painful circumstances that God is still in control, working for good in your situation too?
The miracle of your life may not be what you asked for, it may, as in my case, be even better. For you see, today, now twenty years later, my disabled daughter is a joy and my son a delight.
So continue to seek the one whom the angles celebrated that Christmas night long ago night in the little town of Bethlehem. In the mean time, here are some tips on how to wait for your miracle.
- Continue to seek God, asking for his miraculous grace and favor over your situation.
- Remember as you seek God, that you are not his boss, you are his child.
- Learn to trust God as you wait.
- Let go of the concept of what your miracle should look like. Allow God to be God.
- Start thanking God for your miracle now.
- Wait as patiently as possible, living life not for the future, but in the now.
- Read the book of Psalms as you wait. It will teach you how to pray through your difficulty.
In the meantime, record all the little miracles you find along the way, then later you’ll be able to read these messages to yourself to see that yes, God was at work all along. One day, as you look back on your present circumstances, you’ll see that the miracle may not have come just as you ordered it. God may answer, like he did for me, with something even better.
© Linda Evans Shepherd 2008. Used with permission
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