The following is an excerpt from “Do Not Grow Weary in Prayer and Fasting,” written faithfully each week for nearly 10 years by Jerry Hale, Spiritual Emphasis Committee Chair for the Growing and Building Campaign.
Our daughter Laura’s birthday is on 28 Dec. I always seem to need to be reminded of it in the busyness of the Christmas season. This year, I had totally forgotten her birthday until the wonder of a Facebook post reminded me.
I won’t ever forget her actual birth, however, as it was truly a God thing. She was born during my sabbatical from the Coast Guard while I was attending grad school at the University of Connecticut. Laura was not scheduled to arrive until around Valentine’s Day, so we were excited about having 3 weeks off during UConn’s Christmas break. The night before her birth our family attended a party at the home of one of our CGA ministry supporters. When we arrived back home everyone else went to bed, but I stayed up to spend some time with the Lord. I recall sitting in my easy chair enjoying the fact that I would have no real responsibilities for the next few weeks. I also recall reading Psalm 128 from The Living Bible.
Blessings on all who reverence and trust the Lord—on all who obey him! Their reward shall be prosperity and happiness. Your wife shall be contented in your home. And look at all those children! There they sit around the dinner table as vigorous and healthy as young olive trees. That is God’s reward to those who reverence and trust him. May the Lord continually bless you with heaven’s blessings as well as with human joys. May you live to enjoy your grandchildren! And may God bless Israel!
As I read Psalm 128 that night, I was overcome with a feeling of peace and joy that is hard to describe. I also had a deep sense of assurance that all would be well with our new baby. Little did I know how important those verses would be to me the very next day. The next morning the sun was shining brightly after a New England snow fall. I shoveled the driveway and drove our two young children to the Coast Guard Academy to play in the gym. When we got back home (no cell phones in those days), Kris announced that the baby was coming and we needed to head for the hospital. She had made arrangements with an OCF family to look after the others and we headed to the hospital—but which hospital? We were scheduled to go to the New London Submarine Base, but Kris had previously made a visit to a midwife clinic at Yale New Haven and met the obstetrician overseeing the group. Concerned that we were about to have a premature baby, we decided to head south toward New Haven with their new-born special care unit, but without the permission of the medical administrators that needed to okay such things.
We got to Yale New Haven and the doctor unsuccessfully attempted to stop the birth process. Laura was not to be denied and kept coming. I recall the doctor saying to me that she had a 50/50 chance. My response to myself was, “What is he talking about? She is going to be okay!” Things then got real hectic, almost surreal. When the baby came, she wasn’t breathing and the medical team was very concerned. The situation quickly became chaotic, but then 4 or 5 people from the newborn unit showed up and got her breathing. The staff was convinced that Laura would have problems (she didn’t), so for the next 3 weeks (all of my UConn vacation), we were at the hospital daily while our preemie grew to the point where she could be released into our care. Along the way, we had some help from the CG health services officer who negotiated with the Navy to pay for the new born care. They wouldn’t pay for the obstetrician, however, but when he heard about it, he waived his fee.
I shared this story at Laura’s wedding a few years back emphasizing my reading Psalm 128 that night and the assurance the Lord gave me that all would be well with the baby before I even knew there was an issue. Many people commented on the story. One of our Jewish friends was particularly excited about it and told me how important Psalm 128 is to the Jewish people.
Since then Laura gave up her communications career and went to nursing school. She now works in a NICU in Philadelphia, where she cares for as many as 500 very sick babies each year. She is very good at what she does and credits her own experience for giving her the desire to help others in similar situations.
I am reminded of God’s faithfulness in Laura’s birth each year even though I need to be reminded of what day it is. That also reminds me of God’s faithfulness in all things; whether or not he gives us advance warning. That is a good reminder to all of us as we approach a New Year. We don’t know what the year will bring, but we do know that God is with us and will give us the strength to deal with each and every situation we face.