His Name is Jehovah Rapha
Soon to be 30 years old, I was ecstatic about being a first-time father. My wife, Sandra and I, enjoyed six years of spontaneous road trips, binging VHS movies (remember them?), and everything else freedom allowed. But we were settled and anxious for more tax deductions.
Sandra became pregnant and scheduled the first ultrasound as she approached week 18. I was recovering from a cold and didn’t go with her. I knew the moment I saw her that afternoon. When you’ve known someone half your life, you complete their thoughts and read volumes in their eyes.
I fell to the ground like dust.
“What’s wrong with my baby?”
Getting on the floor and enveloping me in her arms, we cried together.
Congenital Cystic Adenomatoid Malformation (C-CAM)
Our baby had a condition called Congenital Cystic Adenomatoid Malformation (C-CAM). It’s a benign lung lesion that appears before birth as a cyst or mass in the chest. Our case was fatal, according to Sandra’s OB/GYN, Dr. Gurley.
I’ll always regret Sandra making the 45-minute drive home by herself. She’s definitely the strong one in this couple. We returned to Dr. Gurley’s office the next day so he could speak to both of us. The ultrasound revealed massive tumors in our little girl’s chest cavity, which prohibited normal lung tissue growth and smashed her tiny heart. The prognosis was for our baby’s heart to stop beating any day due to the stress on it. If she made it full-term, she’d gasp for breath and die on the delivery table without lungs.
Praying for a Miracle
In 1997, doctors couldn’t do anything for C-CAM, but Dr. Gurley was a Christian and believed in the power of prayer. After delivering the somber news, he gathered me, Sandra, and his assistant, Becky, in his office and we held hands while he prayed for a miracle.
The next day we visited a neonatal specialist who performed his own ultrasound and saw the same thing. In his opinion, abortion was the wisest and less traumatic choice. Sandra would unknowingly carry a dead fetus until her next doctor’s visit.
That night, we had dinner with Pastor Bob and his wife, Donna, and Bob asked the strangest question. “Do you mind if I pray for a miracle for your baby?”
Larry Stinson, the school principal where Sandra taught, also said he was praying for a miracle.
Within a few days, three men of God prayed for our miracle, encouraging us to do also.
Sandra and I visited Dr. Gurley and the neonatal specialist weekly for the next two months. Each ultrasound showed the cysts with no lung tissue, but the teeny, smashed heart continued to beat and defy medical expectations. But the specialist still encouraged abortion.
By this point, God had given me Romans 8:28,
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
I didn’t take this Scripture as God’s promise to heal our baby girl of C-CAM, but instead, I knew we’d be okay either way. He had us.
So, we kept praying for a miracle and stopped going to the neonatal specialist. God has the power to take our baby’s life, not us.
A Trip to Duke Children’s Hospital
Around week 27, we scheduled a visit with specialists at Duke’s Children’s Hospital. We were praying, and our church was united in prayer, but God often works through people. The Duke doctors had reviewed Dr. Gurley’s ultrasounds and didn’t have high hopes. Yet, they met with us and performed their own ultrasound.
That’s probably the best word to describe their findings.
Keely’s (we named her — that’s another story) chest cavity revealed two perfectly formed, healthy lungs, a vibrant pumping heart located in the right place, and only a few cysts in the lower left lobe of her lung! The doctors told us to plan for a normal delivery.
Three weeks earlier was a completely different, sad story, and the Duke doctors agreed that this C-CAM transformation was impossible.
But not with God.
“What is impossible with man is possible with God.”Luke 18:27
Keely celebrates her 26th birthday in a few months.
His Name is Jehovah Rapha — He heals.
Surviving midlife without a crisis depends upon Christians trusting in the goodness of God. He still heals.
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