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How to stand when you do not understand

By James O. Davis

"Sheri, take three or four deep breaths for us," my wife heard the doctor say before the anesthesia took effect.

Are you pregnant?

It may be difficult to comprehend that you are now solely responsible for the life of another human being. While you grow accustomed to being a parent and thinking for two, the baby within you is growing. At just three weeks after conception his or her heart started beating. A little after six weeks brain waves can be detected and all the vital organs are present. Your baby now has hands, fingers and toes and moves his or her little arms and legs. By 10 weeks you can see a little face, eyes, nose, mouth and tongue. Between 16-18 weeks your baby will hear and recognize your voice.

Even if you feel you are not ready to become a parent, your child is ready to live. Now is the time to choose the best possible plan for you and your baby.

Seek out mature believers who will tell you the truth and surround you with Christ’s compassion. Through prayer and their support, you can face the changes that lie ahead.

Remember you are made in the image and likeness of God. Because He is just and loving, you also feel a sense of justice and love. That’s the reason abortion is such a difficult decision. Abortion destroys the life of another person made in God’s own image. If you are considering an abortion, be honest with yourself and admit that terminating the life of your baby is not a loving thing to do. Ask God to help you love your child as He loves you.

Whether your plans include keeping your child or selecting a family to adopt your child, the Assemblies of God can help. Highlands Child Placement Services in Kansas City, Mo., provides support, lodging, medical services, prenatal and childbirth classes, parenting and infant-care classes, adoption services and more. The services are free. Call the pregnancy hotline at 1-800-235-0652 or visit Highlands' Web site at

How does one stand when he or she does not understand? My precious wife, Sheri Reneé, and I lost our two babies. We pray that our story will remind people of the value of human life and will reassure those who walk through dark, desperate places that God can be trusted with their most heart-wrenching sorrows.

Six weeks of agony
On January 24, 1991, at 9:36 p.m., Jennifer Reneé Davis entered this world by way of emergency cesarean section. At 25 weeks gestation, she was 14 weeks early, weighing 2 pounds, 3 ounces and measuring 14 inches long.

During the following six weeks, she fought and struggled valiantly to survive. The four neonatologists did not give us much hope. They continued to tell us the blunt and often frightening facts throughout our baby’s stay in the intensive care nursery. Yet, her will to live surprised them more than once when it appeared certain that the end was near.

Within the first two days, the gravity of Jennifer Reneé’s situation became apparent. More critical than her weight was her early gestational age. She experienced lung failure, kidney failure, a bleed in the brain, and two bowel resectioning surgeries. One crisis led to the next one. There were 106 X-rays, innumerable ultrasounds, transfusions, medications and blood tests.

In severe cases such as ours, a child cannot be held because of all the medical equipment attached to her. Only when no hope remains is such a child removed from the monitors and given to parents to hold. One of the most heartrending moments of our lives occurred on March 5, 1991, at 7 p.m. when Jennifer was first placed in Sheri’s arms. We all cried without shame. Sheri cuddled Jennifer for 12 hours during the next 17 hours. Her mother and I shared the other five hours while Sheri’s father stayed with each of us. At 12:18 p.m., on March 6, Jennifer died in Sheri's arms. Our comfort then and now is knowing that Jennifer was instantly welcomed by the outstretched arms of her loving Heavenly Father.

A true Valentine’s story
Valentine’s Day will never be the same in our lives. On February 14, 1998, our James Paul William Davis — at only 2 pounds, 13 ounces and 16 inches long — came into the world two months early. He was due on May 5, just as his sister had been. He lived only 12 hours and 55 minutes and died in Sheri’s arms, just a few feet from where Jennifer Reneé had died 7 years earlier.

With our son, Sheri was able to experience natural childbirth, but, from the point of his birth, nothing was normal. She did not have the joy of holding a newborn, since his lungs were stiff and he was soon rushed to the intensive care nursery. We began reliving a nightmare that we knew all too well. A beautiful, tiny baby boy with lots of black hair and delicate, darling features was filled with catheters and jet ventilator tubing, among other wires that were familiar to us. James Paul’s heart rate soon dropped. He was placed in Sheri’s arms, wires and all, and she loved and held him until he died, while her parents and my father and I stood near.

This time we had the choice of driving our son to the funeral home ourselves. It was a heart-wrenching 25-minute drive. Upon arriving at the funeral home, we informed the director that we would dress our baby for burial. Tiny ones are often not embalmed. We picked the same type of small casket as we had for our daughter. We were led into a room and there proceeded to undress our little boy and put the tiny blue and white gown on him that unnamed grandmothers make for those babies who die in the Intensive Care Nursery. Sheri wrapped our baby in a blue and white blanket she had purchased in anticipation of his birth just two weeks before. She then placed James Paul in his casket. Our children are buried side by side. Two heart-shaped tombstones, designed by Sheri, bear their names and the dates of their births and deaths.

Six lessons of love
It is true that we live life forward and learn life backward. When the Lord teaches us something in the light, we must not doubt it in the dark. A faith that cannot be tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. Six vital principles carried Sheri and me through our loss. Those six lessons of God’s love will carry you through whatever you face.

First, we are governed by God’s providence. The word "providence" simply means to see ahead of time. God sees ahead of time for our lives. He never learns anything new. The Holy Trinity never meets in an emergency session and says, "This tragedy caught us by surprise. We did not see it coming." Even though the tragedy does not make sense to us, it always makes sense to God. God knows what is best for our lives. What we may consider to be "bad" for us God may consider to be "good" for us. We have come to realize that there are some things in life that we may want but do not need; and some things that we may need but do not want. Only God knows what is truly best for us.

Second, we are growing by God’s plan. We grow spiritually more in sickness than in health; more in tragedy than tranquility. God’s primary goal in our lives is not to make us happy or healthy, but to make us holy. It has been said, "We do not live our lives by explanations, but by the promises of God." God’s Word is still faithful and reliable even though we may not understand what is going on in our lives or why God has allowed a difficulty to come our way. Faith is like film: It is better developed in the dark. Mother Teresa said shortly before her death: "You will never know that Jesus is all you need until all you have is Jesus."

Third, we are graced by God’s prayers. Even though we cannot see God, He can always see us. He never takes His eyes off us. Did you know that you are on the prayer list of Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ is praying for each of us. Sheri and I do not fully have answers for the deaths of our daughter and son. We have to daily commit our lives to God’s will and wisdom. We must always remember that where reason cannot wade, faith must swim.

Fourth, we are gladdened by God’s presence. Have you ever wondered why God takes so long sometimes to answer your prayers? Have you ever wondered if God was going to come through for you? For Christians, waiting time is not wasted time. While we are waiting on the Lord, we must not forget all the times He has answered our prayers. Forgetfulness leads to fearfulness and fearfulness leads to faithlessness. Fear will make you sick and will shorten your life. Fear will take the blue out of your sky and the joy out of your heart. If the icy fingers of fear have gripped your life, then ask the Lord to melt them away by His Holy Spirit.

Fifth, we are guarded by God’s person. When Jesus came walking on the water, He announced, "It is I; be not afraid." Someone has said, "The will of God will never take you where the grace of God cannot keep you." Whatever is over your head is still under the Lord’s feet. Are the waves of life crashing over you? Have you been panic-stricken, filled with fear, wondering whether you will make it through your terrifying storm? If so, please take heart; the waves that are over your head are still under the Lord’s feet.

Sixth, we are guided by God’s purpose. What is God’s purpose for our lives? It takes us from one side to the other side. God’s purpose was fulfilled as He carried our children from this side of life to the other side called heaven. Even though God has not promised us smooth sailing, He did promise us a safe landing. God will make sure that we make it through the storm and land safely on the other side. In the near future, time, distance and gravity will simultaneously collapse and we will be standing on the peaceful shores of heaven.

James O. Davis is the national evangelists representative for the Assemblies of God and president of Cutting Edge International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry.

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