Sarah

SARAH

Jesus Did It!

By: Roderick Marshall

After nearly twelve years, please forgive a little paraphrasing of the next section, it's as I remember it with some things missed out for no ulterior motive other than to get on with the narrative.

In 1988 after various unexpected events, I found myself in a job far from where I had expected to be, in every sense of the word. I was a caretaker in a school deep in the rural Cotswolds, 100 miles from my near family and friends. I had resigned from a job to which I had moved all this way, after three weeks, and was confused as to what God wanted or was to allow in my life. In my walk with God through quiet time and reflection, I was drawn towards the Abraham and Isaac story. I wanted to be able to say, as did Abraham, "Yes of course I will entrust the child I have wanted for many years into your hands because I know that you are the giver of all good things and without your engifting I would not have had this child." "Unfortunately, I had not had the previous 30+ year dialogue that Abraham had established with God. Neither was I able to talk of entertaining angels etc., which must focus the mind.

God had asked me for my time, my car, my money and my house all of which, in the abstract, I had accented to. When it came to asking for my two-year-old daughter whom I love dearly, I just said: "No! Thus far and no further." It was not that I did not want to, it was that after all I had to thank God for, which was much, including the life of my then wife, Fiona, who had nearly died of malaria, I did not trust God enough because bad things have happened. Losing my daughter was not going to be one of them, even as an "abstract" thought. I was quite prepared to say "yes" but I knew, and God knew in reality, I would not have gone through with it as far as Abraham had. Hannah was too precious.

I knew that there were going to be consequences because of my lack of faith and the darkness that accompanied it. Wherever you draw the line in your life to say: "Thus far and no further" is where the battle is fought. Oh yes it is a real battle but that is a story in itself.

My wife was heavily pregnant with our second child and about to give birth. This was a long labor, which I was not surprised by because Hannah, our eldest, was also a very long time arriving into this world.

At about 2:33am, March 9,1988, Sarah was finally born. My wife said: "Is she alright?" My reply was: "Sure she'll be alright."  The nurse gave me a long hard stare to say; "Who do you think you are fooling?" That look I can still see in my mind's eye.

I knew, it would not help the baby or Fiona (my wife at that time) to say to her "No it's all gone pear-shaped but do not worry anyway," but I did not think things were THAT bad until the nurse's stare. The pediatrician whisked the baby out of the room. After making various platitudes with the rest of the staff for the sake of my wife, to distract her whilst the obstetrician finished his tailoring, I made a hasty retreat to the pediatric intensive-care section.

When I arrived at the incubator, I looked into the plastic box and saw her lying there with a tube down her throat and an indicator somewhere on the filter, which said 90% oxygen. She would have cried if the tube were not in the way. Her mouth opened as if she would but nothing came out, except the tubing to the gas taped to her face. She opened one eye to look at me and I did cry. The pediatrician and the obstetrician were discussing what the problem was. They had, I think on reflection, suspected something for a little while because of a quiet heart sound on the monitor. Sarah had a diaphragmatic-hernia. This, I was not please to hear, was what they both had dreaded.

Apparently, it is a one-in-a-hundred-thousand occurrence where the stomach and intestines invade the chest cavity due to the failure of the diaphragm. The diaphragm usually seals the chest off from the abdomen keeping everything in its proper place. In such cases of a failure some, or all, of the growth of the lungs is prevented by the presence of this other tissue. Depending on the severity of the condition some children are literally born to die because without lungs developed they cannot breathe air, surviving in the womb on the mother's blood supply of oxygen. Others with minor deformation can survive. Sarah was halfway between normality and total incapacity with one lung.

What they had both recognized was the symptomatic migration of the heart. This is where the stomach and intestines start to fill with blood pushing the heart to one side to make room for the swelling tissue. If the condition is not recognized early enough the lungs, such as they may be, crush such invading tissue allowing little or no room for the lungs to expand. Apparently, they have 20 minutes to diagnose this irregularity and do something to stop this effect before it is too late. They did whatever they could and then left. The previous conversation that I had had with God came back to me.

It continued: "I want you to give her back to me."   I cried and then I said, "OK."   Then I thought what am I going to say to Fiona? How do you ask a woman who has just given birth to give her child back into God's arms? I prayed; I was pumped full of adrenaline, or something.

I said to Fiona: "I think God wants us to give Sarah back into His arms."  She said, "I think so too."   I grew half-an-inch with relief and then I went downstairs to see Sarah. I prayed over her and gave her back into God's loving care. I cried and prayed some more. The consultant could not be bothered to get out of bed and visit during the early hours saying it would wait until morning. It is a good job I did not have access to find out where he was living, as I was very emotional!! Later having left it as long as I could, at about six in the morning, I rang my pastor, Brian; told him the situation, and asked him to come and pray with me for Sarah, on the basis I still follow:

It is not over until it is over. (See David praying before God: 2 Samuel 12:15ff)

On arrival, he said to me "I believe that Father is saying to me that he has a Father's heart."  This we took as a good sign. Brian was very good and brave to travel the twenty-mile journey from Newent to Cheltenham into our situation. For this, I will always be grateful. The pediatrician arrived again to see what was going on. It is common for babies to die in this early struggle for life. She was glad that Sarah was a girl because she thought that they "fight better for life!"

The pediatrician asked what Brian and I was about to do. I said we are going to pray for Sarah. She said she was a Christian too and joined us in prayer. We prayed for Sarah's healing. Ruth, the pediatrician quickly moved off to do something. She had noticed that Sarah had suddenly started to violently struggle with the tubing having increased in strength. She said that she had to quadruple Sarah's sedation to stop her fighting the tube in her throat. It seemed that this was a direct answer to our prayers. This we took as an exciting step in the right direction.

I think it was later that day, or it may have been on our return from Bristol some days later on a visit to show off the baby, I do not remember exactly. Time was all relative.  Fiona and I decided to call Sarah, Ruth for her middle name after the doctor who had gotten her church to pray for Sarah. So it is today!

Meanwhile Sarah's sudden increase in strength decided the doctors to transfer her to Bristol because she might be strong enough to survive the operation to put her intestines and stomach back in their proper place.

During the day, I was desperate to hear what God was saying to me. Eventually it arrived: "Do not be afraid, just believe."   I dared not believe that this was what God had said but I did my best to hold on to it.

Sarah was operated on and then she was on life support for a further three weeks. All the time I prayed in faith over her incubator when I got back from work. My headmaster Mr. Shaw was very good at letting me go early after I done most of the essential daily duties. We had been allocated some accommodation in Bristol, and Fiona was moved from the ward into this flat near the hospital. My parents looked after the house for a week or so and then decided they had had enough and wanted to go back to their own house. We had to go back to Tewkesbury to sort things out. There was Hannah to think about and she was confused by this entire trauma.

Before we left, there was an occasion where there was a male nurse who seemed to be rather tentative about what machine did what, when and how. He was as a conductor of an orchestra of machines setting off their alarms: not very inspiring. I was aware of God's hand on me in a powerful way sustaining us through this time. He encouraged me not to worry about the people who were to look after Sarah but that I should continue in prayer trusting in Him. 

They did some daft things because they were more used to heart problems - not lung problems. They were over-stretched and other things I will not mention. I prayed against the evil I felt in that ward. I prayed for the over-ruling of God's authority over the shortcomings of humans. I prayed for Sarah's healing with my hands outstretched over the incubator. This male nurse was on duty. He asked me what I was doing. I told him I believed God would heal my daughter. Another nurse who overheard this conversation looked incredulous and walked briskly away. This man however seemed more receptive to what I had said. I prayed in the Spirit over Sarah. We went home to Tewkesbury. We left a blue-gray fleshed and purple-lipped Sarah in God's care. We asked various churches to pray for Sarah's healing.

When we arrived back on the Sunday afternoon Fiona said: "Where is Sarah? What have they done with her?" When I looked at where Sarah had been there was this beautiful baby with peachy skin and red lips. I knew it was Sarah.

The male was on duty again and said. "It is a miracle."  The nurse told me his account:   "It was early on Sunday morning when Sarah's temperature increased steeply and her pulse rate similarly became rapid. I called the doctors to check her over because I was concerned that there may have been a main-line drip infection (Sarah had a direct tube link into her chest to pump in chemicals). When the doctors came, they agreed and ordered an immediate X-ray. When they came back with the results, they were confused. The X-ray plate they had, showed that there were two healthy lungs when they had expected was different. The earlier plate showed one lung. They asked if the plates had been misplaced or accidentally swapped around. They had not!

Sarah took about another twenty days to heal from the operation to her chest so that she could breathe for herself and it was with great joy that I put her over my shoulder and prayed for her. I have witnessed to this event in various places to encourage faith in prayer, also in God.

(Sarah with my present wife) Yes, I entrust both my children into God's hands now because like Abraham, I know that if it were not for God then Sarah would not be here today. How God healed Sarah does not matter to me. The important thing is that I heard His direction and I followed it through, with what little faith I had. If He had taken Sarah, things would be different today. However, He said to trust and He has proved faithful. During the time in the hospital, I prayed against a spirit of death and the next day or so the baby in the cot next to Sarah died.                                                                                   

Why did this not happen to Sarah? Only because it was God's will. Death is not the end, just a stepping-stone to heaven, for those who trust in Jesus. I will always try to get the most out of God for myself: it is my nature. Now, though, I know I can trust him. When push comes to shove NOTHING else is important. All things are contingent on God. This is what Abraham had discovered in his trials and walk with God. I am still learning but I believe I am a little closer than I was before the birth of Sarah. Praise be to God my provider, Saviour and deliverer. Thanks be to his faithful servants wherever they are here on earth. Amen. 

If you would like to contact me about anything concerning what you've just read, please feel free to email me at rmarshall@glos.ac.uk.  Thank you and God bless you!



PLEASE HELP SHARE THE BEST NEWS GOD HAS FOR EVERY PERSON!

"And this gospel of the kingdom [Jesus died for sinners] shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Quote from Jesus Himself: Matthew 24:14).

Consider how many children in "all the nations" have never heard YET what Jesus accomplished for THEM at the cross? PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS TO THE LITTLE CHILDREN!

To help us share the Best News every person needs to hear on this planet, randomly click FOR JESUS on just three (3) of the JESUS DID IT! links below. It will take just a few moments of your time. Please - thatís all you are asked to do. God will reward you! (Of course, be highly encouraged to forward one or more of these video clips to those who may have never heard what Jesus did for them on the cross ... or may need to be re-reminded).

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JESUS DID IT!  - or -  JESUS DID IT!

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