I was 28 weeks pregnant with Jesse when my OBGYN stared at the ultrasound monitor, looking serious and concerned. She noticed Jesse had cysts and enlarged ventricles in his brain. My doctor referred us to a high risk maternal/fetal specialist in Birmingham, who told us that this problem might be related to the heart. He explained to me and my husband that the chambers of Jesse’s heart were enlarged, specifically the right ventricle, because of the increased pressure in the brain. He said it might be because the valve isn’t opening like it should thus preventing good blood flow to the lungs. The doctor also told us there might be a hole in the atrial septum known as Atrial Septum Defect (ASD), which causes the oxygen rich blood to mix with the used blood from the right to left ventricles. The prognosis was grim. My head was spinning as the doctor’s words sunk in. Jason and I felt helpless and numb.
I remember one evening in particular during this time we were hosting a small group Bible study and I had to leave the room to try and compose myself. As I stood in Jesse’s prepared nursery and looked around wondering if he would even get to see it, I broke down and wept.
Sometimes God uses hard situations to draw us closer to Him and this was definitely one of those times. During the next few weeks I poured over Scripture that would help remind me not to fear or worry. I prayed, Jason and I prayed together, our families prayed and our church family prayed over us. It was a bittersweet time, going through the unknown but feeling the comforting presence of the Father in the form of believers who loved us.
Every week until Jesse was born I went to the maternal/fetal specialist for an ultrasound so we could monitor any changes in his condition. Jason and I believed God could work miracles, and we continued trusting Him throughout the whole process.
At 32 weeks we went to see a pediatric cardiologist in town and he gave us news we were not expecting to hear. This very matter-of-fact doctor looked at Jesse’s heart in utero and point blank said, “I don’t think there is anything wrong with his heart. There doesn’t seem to be a problem.” I wish at that moment I could have captured what mine and Jason’s faces must have looked like when the cardiologist told us that. Dumbfounded, mouths open, me mentally responding with, “Say what now?” We walked out of his office certainly confused, but praising God that Jesse just might be okay.
So throughout the rest of the pregnancy we had two conflicting opinions from doctors. But when the pediatric cardiologist checked Jesse again the day he was born, and then 4 months later, he confirmed for us that his heart looked just fine.
The other medical concern Jesse had were the two cysts on his brain. After staying in the NICU for 2 weeks, Jesse had an MRI. The day I picked him up I asked the nurse what the results were. She looked at me and said, “Oh they couldn’t find any cysts. Everything looked good.” I distinctly remember God’s overwhelming grace in that moment and I wanted to cry and shout with joy at the same time. God did not have to heal Jesse, but I believe He did so that He would get the glory.
One of my favorite names of the Lord is ‘Jehovah Rapha’, which means, “the Lord who heals”. Think about the many times Jesus performed miracles of physical healing: “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14 NIV). Jesus healed the blind, the lame, deaf, mute, demon-possessed, even raising the dead! While the Son performed all these miracles to showcase God’s glory, the most important healing He did was on the inside – our hearts. That is what He came for. Jesus could heal someone from a physical ailment but if their hearts weren’t healed from sin, they would still go to hell. Jesus is the Healer of our souls, and any physical healing that He does is an added demonstration of profound grace.
We are all born with a “defect” in our heart, our sin nature, so this is what Jesus did for us: “He Himself bore our sins in His body, on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24 NIV). My prayer is that one day Jesse’s heart will truly be healed by the only One who can “perform the operation”, the Savior, Jesus Christ.
“Grant me to hear Thy voice assuring me:
that by Thy stripes I am healed,
that Thou wast bruised for my iniquities,
that Thou hast been made sin for me
that I might be righteous in Thee,
that my grievous sins, my manifold sins,
are all forgiven,
buried in the ocean of Thy concealing blood.
I am guilty, but pardoned,
lost, but saved,
wandering, but found
sinning, but cleansed,
Give me perpetual broken-heartedness,
Keep me always clinging to Thy cross,
Flood me every moment with descending grace,
Open to me the springs of diving knowledge,
sparkling like crystal,
flowing clear and unsullied
through my wilderness of life.”
-Valley of Vision
Grace upon grace,