At the 20 week anatomy scan of our third child, the sonographer saw a blood clot. Not a huge issue, but it could become bigger, which could be harmful for baby or harmful for me. So we prayed. We prayed for God to heal; for him to resolve whatever issue caused the blood clot and to keep it from getting larger.
4 weeks later I laid down for the next sonogram. It had grown bigger.
God had answered no, when I wanted a yes.
Sometimes it feels like life is marked by moments like this. Whether it’s a specific prayer answered not as we hoped, or a generalized feeling of ‘why me’ or ‘this isn’t fair’; life often takes a route that we would have never chosen.
But God is in control, right? He could change our circumstances if He wanted to, right? Yes.
But maybe he is at work in us to produce something bigger than comfortable circumstances.
Charles Spurgeon, a British preacher in the late 1800’s described it this way:
Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one, you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition.
A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is a sandbank; should someone ask, “Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel and deviate so much from a straight line?” His answer would be, “Because I should not get my vessel into harbor at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.” So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession.
Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little, you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection.
Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.”
Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Down busy self, and proud impatience, it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!
So the sonographer, who saw the clot had grown bigger, began to examine the clot more closely, at a level she would not have looked if the clot had stayed the same size. In doing so, she saw something else. Something very rare in the obstetric world that they do not routinely check for, but something so fatal that undiagnosed has a very high mortality rate. Vasa Previa (not to be confused with placenta previa) is a condition in which blood vessels that are usually in the umbilical cord grow outside the womb, unprotected and vulnerable to rupture. Essentially similar to if an adult’s carotid artery was growing on the outside of the skin exposed to the outside world, ready to rupture and bleed out at the slightest bump or touch. A baby so small, with such important vessels so exposed, would bleed out in a matter of seconds. I spent the duration of pregnancy in a hospital, monitored, right next door to the operating room where I could be whisked to surgery at the slightest spot of blood. We delivered over a month early via very careful c section to a healthy boy who is turning 2 next week.
Now what if God had answered how we wanted at that 20 week mark. What if he would have shrunk the blood clot or made it not grow bigger, and the sonographer would not have taken a closer look, but idly monitored it as they do countless other abnormalities. That is what we asked for, for the clot to disappear or remain the same. But God, in his infinite wisdom, allowed that problem to persist, allowed for a divine blood clot, to bring attention to a bigger problem, one that threatened to take the life of our son.
In the same way, when Jesus was taken in the garden of Gethsemane; ridiculed in a mock trial; beaten and bruised by soldiers; and hung up to die on the cross; and the disciples were scared out of their minds and desperate for a divine intervention, what would have happened if God had rescued Jesus, if God would have spared him from the cross? Spared him from what looked to the disciples as the end.
But he didn’t. He allowed the suffering and death of his son to alleviate the sufferings of the world.
Let us not forget who our God is. That he is a good God, who works all things for our good and his glory, whether we get to see those results in this lifetime or not. Let’s trust in Him, who is worthy to be trusted, rather than our circumstances.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:8-11)
The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. (Proverbs 16:4)
I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things. (Isaiah 45:7)
The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand. (Isaiah 14:24)