A Miracle-working God

Rose Jackson© 1/2009

The miracles began to unfold when the problem became a crisis. I got the phone call on Monday afternoon. “Mom, Emily’s bleeding. They’re evacuating her to Hong Kong.” He paused, the anguish breaking Eric’s voice,” I don’t know if Evan and I will be able to go with her.” A cold jolt ran down my back and momentarily paralyzed my breathing. “I’m on my way,” I exhaled, my thoughts speeding off in dozens of directions. How? Where? Who could help?

Emily and Eric were working and studying Asia. Expecting their second child, our daughter-in-law was 29 weeks into the pregnancy. After episodes of spotting in her first trimester, things had been going fine. Until now.

Emily had started spotting again on Sunday, so she and Eric went to the hospital while their three-year-old son Evan stayed with friends. Things took a drastic turn on Monday, and the hospital staff told Emily and Eric they weren’t equipped to handle such a premature birth. Both the baby and Emily could die. The closest hospitals equipped for premature births were 350 miles away in Hong Kong. How could they get there in time to save the baby’s life? At this point of desperation, when none of us could do anything but pray, God delivered miracles.

Looking back on them now, it’s almost like peering over God’s shoulder as he marked off a checklist:

Make a corporate jet “coincidentally” available and close enough to fly in.
Make the jet big enough for Eric and Evan to go along.
Connect a colleague in Hong Kong quickly with an ambulance to meet them there.

Getting to Hong Kong was just the tip of the iceberg of impossibilities. Which hospital? Was there a hospital with a bed available and staff available for whatever might happen? Where could Eric and Evan stay indefinitely on their meager resources? Who would take care of Evan?

On the other side of the world, I bought an airline ticket while my mind whirled with my own questions. How could we afford this? What about local currency? A miracle itself, my passport had just come back in record time the week before, but did I need a visa to get into Hong Kong? Where would Eric and Evan be? How could I find them?

“Call Julia” flashed through my mind. We’d met Julia six years earlier when we lived briefly on the East Coast. She was from Hong Kong. Her parents still lived there. Could one of them possibly meet me at the airport? Was Julia even home? I was set to fly out at five in the morning. Making a connection would take a miracle. God’s checklist:

Move us to New England in 1997 so we meet Julia.
Be sure Julia is at home on Monday night.
Ensure Julia’s mother is available and willing to meet me at the airport.
Provide a phone number where Julia’s mother can contact Eric and find out where he is.
Send Emily to the hospital with the best neonatal intensive care unit in all of East Asia.
Provide an affordable apartment in Hong Kong for four weeks.

“What-if’s” swirled through my thoughts. How would I recognize Julia’s mother Linda, whom I’d met only once? I tucked Julia’s wedding photo in my carry-on, held my husband close, and tried to get a few hours of fitful sleep. Thirty-four hours later across the Pacific Ocean, I saw a small hand waving a sign that read “Rose.” Amid a sea of people I thankfully hugged Linda, who had taken a taxi, bus and subway across two islands far out of her way to meet me. One hour later I leaped out of a taxi to embrace Evan and Eric in the middle of a narrow, dark street between canyons of buildings. Eric smiled and said, “Welcome to Hong Kong . . . Grandma!”

Born by emergency C-section, little Elsa weighed two pounds fifteen ounces. Doctors guardedly told Eric and Emily to expect Elsa to be in the NICU until her original due date, even if she didn’t develop complications. Now our needs were less critical, but real, nonetheless. After the first four weeks, where could we stay that would be close enough to allow Emily and Eric to make twice-daily breast milk runs to the hospital? How could they afford rent when Eric already had paid the hospital thousands of dollars? How could Eric and Emily continue their studies without their books? The miracles continued:

Connect Eric and Emily’s Hong Kong colleague with a friend who worked for an elder in a local church.
Through that that church provide an apartment, rent-free, for Eric and Emily for two weeks.
Make another apartment available rent-free for six weeks beyond that.
Bring friends through Hong Kong with Eric and Emily’s books and some of Evan’s best-loved toys.
Protect Elsa and keep her infection- and complication-free.

Three weeks passed, and we had so much to be thankful for at Thanksgiving that we weren’t too disappointed by our oven that didn’t work and the turkey dinner we couldn’t afford at a local restaurant. We were content to find turkey sandwiches at a nearby deli, but God, who had pulled off huge miracles for us already, had two small, delightful ones still on his list. At the church we attended the Sunday before Thanksgiving, a genial woman with twinkling eyes turned around to offer, “Would you like to come to our apartment for Thanksgiving dinner? It will only be chicken, but I have a can of cranberry sauce!” Astonished, we delightedly accepted. After church, one of the members told this woman she’d bring over a complete turkey dinner from the outrageously-priced restaurant, where she worked! God must have winked as he checked off:

Provide a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, down to pumpkin pie.
Supply for free a small Christmas tree complete with lights and ornaments.

The most amazing miracle left the NICU two weeks later, and one week after that, one month ahead of schedule, little Elsa Faith was released from the hospital, well on her way to becoming the bright, beautiful, unstoppable toddler she is today.

Is it a miracle when friends drop their own agendas to make critically needed things happen that you can’t arrange or do for yourself? Is it a miracle when strangers go out of their way to meet your needs, both the desperate and the simply encouraging ones? Is it a miracle when you’re moved across the country to meet someone who will fill a unique need in years to come? Is it a miracle when the cells of a tiny body grow healthy and strong despite being thrust suddenly into a hostile environment?

Technically these extraordinary, ordinary provisions – even taken together – may not be miracles, but they certainly felt like miracles to Emily, Eric, Evan and me! This much I do know: when my loved ones or I am in formidable, urgent, grave need that’s beyond our capacity to fill, I’ll take my miracles any way God wants to conceive, create, and deliver them!

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. . . . For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . . . your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Psalm 139: 9, 13, 16-17

A “. . . but . . .” to pray: Loving Father, so often when trouble strikes, my first reaction is to cry out to you, “Why are you allowing this?” and fly into panic mode, BUT again and again you have proved yourself faithful and mighty to provide everything my loved ones and I need. The world is not too large, no emergency is too difficult, AND no heart-cry is too insignificant for you to care, provide, heal, and bring victory. I will remember that in the needs I face today. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Your own “. . . but . . .” to move/pray: Loving and living Father, I fear that ___________________, BUT I choose to put my confidence in your compassion and your power. trusting you will _________________________. Thanks that you will meet all my needs in amazing ways – and I surrender my expectations to your greater wisdom and limitless love. Amen!

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