Disappointment sinks the soaring soul. It punctures hope and deflates faith. Disappointment leaves me breathless, questioning God and myself. Heights of trust in the Lord quickly plummet when God’s plan and my expectations clash.
The very book I live by says that the terrain of discipleship is rocky. Should I expect smooth paths when the Bible states otherwise? In my trials, God proves Himself trustworthy and future adversity becomes less daunting.
Jesus Himself felt disappointed. His disciples denied him. His friend sold Him. His followers didn’t recognize Him. His community crucified Him. His Father turned away from Him
My disappointments don’t even compare to His.
The day Wouter and I went to find out the gender of our second baby quickly changed from a happy occasion to one of the most disappointing experiences I’ve ever had.
I was laying on the exam bed as the ultrasound technician scrolled over my belly with the transducer, examining the life inside. I peered at the screen in front of me watching our little baby wiggle all around. My mind began to drift away into the clouds of satisfaction surrounding the moment.
Things were really coming together for us. In the fall, Wouter was going to begin his undergraduate studies in Theology and Apologetics at Moody Bible Institute! I was so happy for him and so proud of his acceptance to such a reputable school. Years of encouraging him to go to college had finally paid off. I always believed in him more than he believed in himself. I knew his potential and now he would have the chance to reach it. I was full of joy.
Our move to Chicago was just 6 weeks away! I was brimming with excitement at the thought of moving to a big city with my husband and son. We scored an amazing apartment in a building designated for missionaries and students. Mostly all of our neighbors were young marrieds with small children and our neighborhood was close to stores, parks and great restaurants.
I was in a rush to get settled there since I was already 19 weeks pregnant. There were many things to get done. Wouter had to secure employment and get our finances in place, we had to get health insurance for the delivery of our baby and we had to furnish our new apartment. We were starting over again. Only this time I had a pregnant belly and a two year old!
In five years of marriage, our lives had never been “textbook”. Illinois would be our third state of residence and our seventh apartment. In spite of our whirlwind lifestyle, I couldn’t have been happier. I felt God’s blessing on us. He would make a way. It would all work out.
Suddenly, I was torn out of dreamland.“The baby has what? What’s wrong with the heart? Oh wait,her heart? It’s a girl? Tell me, what’s wrong with her?”
The sonogram technician pointed to the thumping mass on the screen. How could she even see the anatomy well enough to notice that it was all…backwards. Transposed. That was the medical term.
“Your baby has Transposition of the Great Arteries. It’s ok though. They will just switch the coronary vessels around after she is born and she’ll be fine.”Those were the tech’s nonchalant words.I could see she was trying to help me cope with the news by minimizing the impact. I did appreciate her effort.
Huh? I’m not a doctor but that sounds like major surgery to me. Do you realize that she’ll be really tiny and new when they open up her chest? Do you know what you are telling me? Do you think she will survive that? I didn’t even have a chance to be happy that my son is going to have a baby sister!
When I left the ultrasound lab, my shoulders were slumped and my mind was blank. My husband and I drove home in silence squeezing each other’s hand.
That day disappointment shattered my hope for something beautiful.
I just wanted to have a normal pregnancy and give birth to a normal baby in a normal way. I had just gotten over the devastatingly traumatic birth of my son which ended in an emergency c-section. Now, I had to look devastation in the eyes once again.There was no sun in the sky that day.
When we got home, Wouter and I began researching our baby’s diagnosis. It only took a few minutes to see the Lord’s gracious hand moving on our behalf. TGA was rare but correctable. Research showed that most babies with this condition don’t even get diagnosed until after birth when they begin to turn blue from lack of oxygen. Most ultrasound technicians cannot even recognize a transposed fetal heart. It’s too difficult to see. Uninformed expectant parents of TGA babies never have the chance to prepare for the arrival of their baby and are shocked and heartbroken when they find out post birth. They aren’t ready for the emotional roller coaster or medical whirlwind they are about to face. Many give birth in facilities that are inadequate to treat such a condition.But God mercifully exposed our baby’s condition through a skilled professional.
In the midst of our sadness we were thankful for the chance to prepare ourselves.Naturally, we questioned our move to Chicago. Maybe we should stay right where we were. It seemed logical. If we left now, we would be walking into unknown territory with no health insurance, no doctors in place and no family or friends to help us through a difficult time.
I put our plans back into the Lord’s hands. If we were to stay, then God would show us. I contacted the best Children’s hospital in Chicago. I inquired about the heart surgeon and found out that he was one of the best in the country and had performed the Arterial Switch Procedure on many babies. That same day the hospital put me in touch with a prenatal cardiologist who seemed extremely compassionate to our situation. I told him everything. He felt more like a therapist than a doctor! Much to my surprise he encouraged us to go ahead with our move. He reassured me that our baby would receive the best medical care available.I took his advice as from the Lord.
The same doctor helped me acquire health insurance which was basically put into place before we got to Illinois. I informed them of our baby’s diagnosis and they pushed my paperwork through the system to give me immediate coverage beginning soon after our arrival in Chicago.
God was working quickly and obviously. We felt peace and continued to move forward.
When we arrived in Chicago, admittedly, things were tough for us. A new apartment, a two year old, a new baby on the way, no friends, scarce finances, the demands of school and finding work, no family nearby, learning to navigate the city and the health system, doctors, coping with the reality of what we were facing…
I often pondered why this was all happening and to this day most of my questions remain unanswered. But I do know this… God was clearly in control. He was present and His influence made us feel secure.In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
The birth of my daughter was one of the most pivotal days of my life. Her entrance into this world was beautiful. I saw how, against all odds, in the midst of my disappointment and the imperfections of our fallen world, God broke through with hope undefiled by our earthly circumstances. Her life was saved by God through the hands of many skilled doctors and today she is healthy and beautiful and sassy and as much of a stinker as any other toddler I’ve ever met.
The pressures Wouter and I faced in that season could have broken us. Instead, God strengthened us. The disappointment of seeing a little baby face so many challenges so soon after birth could have crushed us. Instead we saw the resilience of a life that God breathed into existence. We could have fallen apart but God fused us together. He hovered over us and shielded us from the rain.
When the storms hit, He doesn’t run for shelter. He becomes the shelter.
My daughter has a heart condition. That will never change. But the scar on her chest is more than just a mark left by surgery. It symbolizes the hand of God in our lives and bears witness to the absolute fact that He can mend broken things.
Her scar will never vanish and neither will HE!
He has made everything beautiful in its time! Ecclesiastes 3:11