- 2 Kings 4:8-37
- John 14:27
- Job 12:10
It is hard to remember exactly what it was like before we had kids. Part of our story, however, includes a long struggle through loss and pain, disappointment and heartache. Before our son was born we lost two children to miscarriage. I won’t pretend to know fully how to describe the pain Michelle experienced in this loss, and I barely have words for my own. What I can say is that we were both left hurting and confused. Eventually we found ourselves seeking the consult of a fertility doctor. We met with the doctor and laid out a game plan. Two days later we found out Michelle was pregnant. Amazing. Part of our game plan involved testing to find out if anything identifiable was contributing to the miscarriages, but the news of the pregnancy rendered our plan obsolete. We wanted to celebrate, but fear was the stronger emotion. The weeks passed, however, and things progressed with the pregnancy. Eventually our fear turned to celebration as we heard the heartbeat of our baby boy at our next doctor appointment… the point where we discovered each of the previous two pregnancies had gone wrong.
Our text from 2 Kings today is a strange and difficult story, but it begins with a woman who had been previously unable to bear a son. There is no need to get sidetracked with the details of this here, but things were different then and simply put, not having a son was a big deal. But then, Elisha the prophet speaks a promise to the woman and God comes through.
“Next year at this time you will be holding a son in your arms!” “No, my lord!” she cried. “O man of God, don’t deceive me and get my hopes up like that.” But sure enough, the woman soon became pregnant. And at that time the following year she had a son, just as Elisha had said. (2 Kings 4:16, 17 NLT)
If we just yank these couple verses out of the context it sounds simple and worth celebrating. But this is not the end of the story. Tragedy strikes.
One day when her child was older, he went out to help his father, who was working with the harvesters. Suddenly he cried out, “My head hurts! My head hurts!” His father said to one of the servants, “Carry him home to his mother.” So the servant took him home, and his mother held him on her lap. But around noontime he died. (2 Kings 4:18-20 NLT)
Our celebration came to a screeching halt when Michelle started having complications. She was put on bed rest to protect the baby but soon after, we rushed to the emergency room when she went in to early labor… 3 months before her due date. A few days later our son was born and all we could do was watch as this two-pound little boy struggled for his life. What went wrong? Why? What could we do? We felt helpless and afraid.
When Elisha arrived, the child was indeed dead, lying there on the prophet’s bed. He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the Lord. Then he lay down on the child’s body, placing his mouth on the child’s mouth, his eyes on the child’s eyes, and his hands on the child’s hands. And as he stretched out on him, the child’s body began to grow warm again! Elisha got up, walked back and forth across the room once, and then stretched himself out again on the child. This time the boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes! (2 Kings 4:32-35 NLT)
As a prophet of God, Elisha knew that even the greatest weapon of the enemy — death itself — was no match for the promise and power of God. Elisha prayed to the Lord and the boy started to breathe again. I want to learn to pray with that kind of faith and expectation.
One of the biggest struggles for any preemie child is bradycardia. In short, the child’s brain doesn’t know yet that it is supposed to tell the lungs to breathe. A preemie child will frequently stop breathing and not start again unless they are stimulated to do so. In eight weeks in the NICU we literally had to save Zachary hundreds of times as he stopped breathing. The weight of this never really hit me until several months later. I was sitting in a Bible study before worship one Sunday and the leader of the class asked the question, “Have you ever saved someone’s life?” I don’t remember why he asked or what we were talking about, but as I answered I broke down at the memory of saving my child’s life time after time. Michelle and the nurses in the NICU did the same countless times as well. All we knew to do was pray. We prayed to the same God who heard Elisha’s prayers and raised the boy that day so long ago. God heard Elisha’s prayers, and God must have heard ours too.
We chose Zachary’s name because it means, “God has remembered.” We believe that God remembered us as we longed for a child. We believe God remembered us in the confusion of the pregnancy. We believe God remembered Zachary as he struggled for life in those first months. We believe that God remembered and heard us and the thousands of others as we cried out in prayer for our son. We believe that God breathed life into Zachary and brought healing and wholeness to his fragile body. Today our Zachary is almost six. He is alive and well. He rarely stops moving or talking. He is smart and funny and creative and stubborn and he never forgets to breathe. I can’t imagine life without him. We are also blessed with Marin, our happy and healthy and beautiful three-year-old daughter.
I know there are all kinds of questions about healing that need to be talked about. We’ll get there. But before we do, I wanted to begin telling a little bit of one of our own healing stories. There are lots more stories to tell, but this one is where it began for me. As I shared before, there was a time when I didn’t really believe in healing, but now I live with a daily reminder of God’s power and promise… and I love to tell the story.
I don’t know where you are struggling. I don’t know your needs. What I do know, however, is God is making all things new. Even death itself can’t stop him. I pray whatever the circumstance, you and I will come to place our trust fully in our God who remembers and hears our cries.