Written by: Nancy Wright
He gives more grace…
I was honored recently when Mandy asked me to share our family’s journey, (largely surrounding our experiences with our second son). When I agreed initially, I thought this would be easy and quick. God has been so very good to us over the years, that talking about his faithfulness comes easily, what I never imagined was just how difficult it would be to put His goodness into short sentences!
When I think about the way God has worked in our family’s life – a line from an old hymn comes quickly to mind – “He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater”. That has certainly been our testimony.
The story begins with the birth of our second son.. At the time, we were happy young parents with another toddler at home. Everything seemed wonderful and normal until the day he was supposed to be discharged. On that morning, as we were preparing ourselves to pack up and leave the hospital, we were informed that there had been at first a complication, and then a deep concern over something they had discovered. The concern and complication quickly turned into a crisis – that caused our son to be rushed to Halifax by ambulance.
When we arrived in Halifax, we met with the cardiologists at the Isaac Walton Killiam’s hospital for sick children who informed us that our baby’s heart was on the wrong side of his chest and that the main ventricles were sharing one chamber of his heart, and that there was at least one hole. The doctors were gravely concerned – and our family doctor warned us not to be too hopeful, or to get too attached because at the time it was suspected that he could only live for one year at the most. Of course, it was impossible for us not to be attached to this beautiful blue-eyed baby boy that we knew God had given to us, and so began our journey of faith.
When he was admitted to Sick Kids Hospital, we immediately needed a place to stay, and we were so glad when the assistant pastor from Faith Tabernacle, a church we would later pastor for 7 wonderful years, took us in and cared for us. Their love was the first of many unselfish gifts we received as we went through this dark valley.
While I wrestled with the questions of why us? and why our son? God lovingly and gently carried and provided for us .
The medical aspect of our sons care was one of our first challenges. His health situation demanded us learning how to give numerous medications to an infant as well as learning to do tube feedings. In the first two years of his life, he spent more time in the hospital than at home and included two major open heart surgeries. All of which took an exhausting toll on us – but in the midst of our hard seasons – God again sent grace.
I remember so vividly the day when Bob and I were in the ICU during his first surgery. We were exhausted with worry, trying to rest and be patient – when all of a sudden 2 college students who had started attending our youth group in Truro appeared with a picnic basket. They knew the day was going to be long for us, and so even though they didn’t have much themselves as students, they went out and purchased a picnic lunch and then sat with us as we waited for the results.
On another occasion, shortly after our twins were born (we now had 4 children under 2 ½ years of age), a lady from our church came to me, knowing that we spent most of our free time in the hospital in Halifax or trying to care for our growing family, and said she would come and clean our house every other week. I was initially taken back by that – and so I always tried to clean the house before she would arrive so that she would know I was coping well, but she gently sat me down and told me not to rob her of the blessing of being able to serve Jesus in this way! Jesus had visited us yet again.
When our son turned 2, he began to show signs of going into cardiac failure for a second time. We met with our doctors and they informed us that he was going to have to have a second major open heart surgery. We braced ourselves and tried to prepare our son who by this time was very aware of what was going on in his life, having had repeated hospital visits, needles, tests etc. Finally the day arrived, and my husband carried our little boy down to the surgical floor of the hospital and handed him over to a nurse to prepare him for surgery. As if sensing what was about to happen, our generally very happy son, turned and stretched his arms out to us and began to cry out. It was the beginning of one of the hardest days of our lives.
In the midst of that surgery, as we waited in the ICU waiting room, alarm bells went off and doctors came running from what seemed to be every direction. Shortly thereafter, the surgeon appeared and explained that the surgery they had planned couldn’t be performed because he had begun to bleed out – they had stopped the bleeding and would now need to do a different surgery – a more complicated surgery which they had never done in exactly this way in their hospital. They were going to have to contact a specialist in Ontario who was going to give them instructions over the phone.
The doctor then asked for permission to do this new surgery. They then explained that the new procedure cut off the main valve the brought blood to the lungs. When my husband asked the doctor how the lungs would get blood, the doctor shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know – by the grace of God”. I’m quite sure he had no idea what he was saying at that moment – since as far as we knew he had no particular faith – but God knew what we needed to hear in that moment – and he used the mouth of a surgeon to speak faith to us.
Instantly my husband replied “I believe in the grace of God – go do it!”
From there the grace of God really did demonstrate itself. Our son who was supposed to not live 1 year – is now 24 years old.
There were too many miracles that happened over those 24 years for me to write them all down.
From what some might call coincidences like the fact that the Maritime District Conference for pastors from our denomination was having it’s conference while we were facing surgery, and how when these our friends and colleagues heard that things were going poorly in surgery, stopped what they were doing midday and mid conference and fasted and prayed for us and our son to the many special people whose hearts God moved upon to help us, call us, encourage us and pray for us – God showed Himself faithful.
Through that dark time, God revealed himself through casseroles, smiles, bold prayers and pray-ers, babysitters who learned how to run a feeding pump and insert an NG tube and on and on!
I thank God today for his faithfulness, because today our son is a strong, passionate young man.
God is faithful and His is good! He supplies what we need when we need it, and teaches us in the process what it means to trust Him, and he gives us this one more grace – He gives us the ability as Paul said to comfort others with the comfort we have received (2 Cor.1:4). And that is what I hope I have done in sharing my story for you today.
Nancy Wright lives in Brampton, Ontario, where she and her husband are the lead pastors of New Life Community Church. They have 4 amazing sons who are each pursuing God’s call on their lives. She is also a maternity nurse and now the writer of a blog (this one!).