Meeting my firstborn for the first time was not quite what I expected. After waiting patiently in a hospital corridor pacing and praying for an hour, I had a short moment with my daughter in the hallway outside the operating room. I was permitted but a few seconds to see Soraya as the neonatologist wheeled her by in an incubator. She was so tiny and thin, about the length of my hand. The image of her beet-red body and hairless, translucent skin are forever etched in my memory. She looked more like a baby rat than a baby girl, but she was my baby rat!

It was a surreal moment, a moment when the shock and awe of crisis temporarily put a damper on the joy of fatherhood. Here lay my newborn daughter sucking her tiny thumb with an oversized CPAP affixed to her face. I wasn’t even permitted to hold or kiss her before she was whisked away to the NICU.

Meanwhile, my wife still lay on the operating table in serious condition. When we arrived at the hospital that morning, little did we know that a regular checkup would end in an emergency c-section. During her doctor appointment, Meljoné began to vomit and her blood pressure skyrocketed. As they tried to stabilize her, our daughter’s heart rate dramatically dropped, and that’s when the decision to perform surgery was made. At two pounds and thirty weeks, Soraya was abruptly brought into the land of the breathing two and a half months premature.

Throughout the next seven weeks, we spent every waking moment at that hospital. God was more than faithful to answer our prayers and give us supernatural assurance with every new obstacle we faced. Meljoné recounts hearing the Holy Spirit whisper to her that He was with her as she was being carted into the operating room. From that moment on she was never without peace.

Not Why but How
The gravity of any tragedy always settles in eventually, and for me it was during our second night in the hospital. I sat in the Intensive Care Unit at Meljone’s bedside while Soraya was in the NICU. As I began to think back on the past forty-two hours, it all finally hit me. I started to breakdown and cry and found myself asking questions. “Why is this happening to me and my family? Where did we go wrong? Was there something I did to deserve this? Could I have done something to prevent this?”

As I poured out my fears and cares to God in prayer, He reminded me of Paul and Silas being thrown in a Philippian jail for preaching the gospel. They were apostles, doing the will of God, but they never bemoaned their lot. They weren’t demanding God to give them an answer as to why He allowed them to be mistreated. They didn’t look for an opportunity to quit once things got dicey. Instead, in the midnight hour, beaten, bruised and bloodied, they praised God, and the prisons doors opened!

Asking God why is neither an inappropriate nor illegal question to ask. He is certainly big enough to handle our issues and complaints. The why question, however, is just not the best question to pose when going through adversity. There is a better question – the question of how. How will God be glorified through my deliverance? How can I praise Him through this circumstance? This is a more constructive inquiry that helps cultivate a kingdom mentality.

As I sat in that hospital room, I started to praise the Lord, and my whole perspective changed. My thoughts went from: “My wife is in the ICU. My baby girl is in an incubator. Things aren’t going so well.” To: “My wife is in the ICU. My baby girl is in an incubator. Praise God they are both still alive!” The circumstances didn’t change. I changed, and in that midnight hour my prison doors opened. From that moment on I knew our deliverance would come and that our purpose for being in that hospital was to glorify our Father in Heaven.

For the next two months we became witnessing machines. We witnessed to just about everything that moved. Doctors, nurses, phlebotomists, janitors and even other patients heard about little Soraya and her big God. We testified to many of the hospital staff, and Soraya’s remarkable story made it all the way up to the president of the hospital. Today, Soraya is a healthy and happy six-year old girl.

Don’t Waste your Wilderness
Every trial is an opportunity to advance the kingdom of God. If we’re going to go through trial, we might as well grow through them. God allows dark times to draw us to Him, so that when He brings us through it, we can bring Him fame.

But this story is not just about my family. It’s about you. You are a survivor and a reviver of others. The question is not: “Will you be delivered?” The question is rather: “Will you glorify God through your deliverance?” The fact that you came into this world is miraculous in and of itself. Regardless of how you arrived, you will not leave this world without facing a mountain or a giant that can only be conquered through faith.

How will you respond when life throws you a curveball? Those of faith who have walked before us were far from cowardly. They were men and women of valor and guts, possessing bravery in the midst of brutality, audacity in the midst of uncertainty. Their sacrifices sound a clarion call to our generation.

You and I are now handed the baton to run this race with boldness and courage. May it be said of us that through faith we subdued kingdoms, worked for righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned the flight of armies, and returned to women their dead raised to life. (Hebrews 11:33-35)

Live fearlessly, mighty warrior! The defining characteristics of the end-times will be terror or courage. Which one will define you? In Christ, you have no reason to live afraid.

 

Jeff Rostocil is a speaker and author. His latest book is called Bulletproof:Accessing the Favor and Protection of God in the Secret Place