Today, I am inviting my dear friend Sheetal Thakker to share her story of faith with us. She lives in Banglore, India. She is a wonderful person and a woman with a strong faith in Jesus. She will be sharing with us about her journey of her life’s unexpected storm and her experience as she chose to trust God amidst all the challenges. Welcome Sheetal!
The shocking start
The news of high-risk pregnancy came like an unexpected storm the weather forecast had failed to predict and had me completely unprepared in the realm of the chaotic unknown. I had known that the conception had been possible through divine intervention and I was still only soaking in the joy of the good news of life growing within me, weaving dreams of the happy future with my little one and the things we woud do together. It was brought to an abrupt halt when the doctor informed me that the blood test indicated this was a high-risk pregnancy i.e 1 in 50 chance of the baby having a diagnosis of Down syndrome and she recommended abortion as the already complex and competitive life becomes more challenging with this diagnosis.
We refused abortion as the miracle of this baby came into existence with 3 years of prayers and tears and the Church’s teaching in our pre-marital counselling had laid a firm foundation on why abortion of a baby was out of the question as this was life and not a matter of convenience or inconvenience.
The first ray of hope
A beautiful and life-changing encouragement came from my husband who reminded me of Luke 15:3-6
“Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.” Luke 15:3-6
He said, If Jesus left the 99 and came for that 1 sheep, will he not leave the 49 and come for this 1. The 1:50 ratio argument fell to the dust with this word of God for me. One day as I sought the Lord’s assurance and guidance he pointed me out to John 14:19 as soon as I opened the page and He said,
“In a little while, the world will not see me, but you will see me. And because I live, you shall live also.” John 14:19
Little did I know at that time, that it was the same promise God gave Dr. Ravi Zacharias whilst he was in the hospital after having attempted suicide. Highly motivated I pressed forward. The doctors assured me that barring the already known info on the probable diagnosis of Down Syndrome, baby was growing well as he/she should and everything looked fine.
The battle and the struggle
A month prior to due date the baby stopped moving and after a day’s wait, the heart beat started to decline. They rushed me to the operation theatre. One of the medical professional’s even grumbled in the theatre during the preparation of the procedure that she would have to miss the Sunday mass because of this emergency operation at 5.30 am on 19th Aug 2018. The sadness in my heart on hearing those words is unexplainable and with a broken heart I looked at a picture of Jesus in the operation theatre asking Him, “Is it really more important than saving a life that you have decided to give existence to despite the opposition this baby has faced from the womb”? I thought we had lost sight of the golden rule in the Bible – “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”. Sadly, one of greatest commandment that Jesus himself considered top priority was set aside for adherence to schedule and familiarity!
A C-section was done and my confidence level started slipping like sand out of hand as the baby didn’t cry, but I heard one thing in the theatre that made me smile – it’s a girl. I thought it’s strange nobody sounded excited only to know later that the doctors were not expecting the baby to live due to poor health, shallow breathing effort.
My baby had a brain haemorrhage on the first night of her life which impacted her vision, the karyotype report confirmed the diagnosis of DS and we did not have the lakhs of rupees needed for baby’s NICU stay and treatment. To say it was hard to keep the faith at that time, is an understatement. I imagined myself in the place of Simon Peter when Jesus told him…
Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:31-32
Seeing His face and walking on water
I dreaded on what our future held and this dread wreacked havoc on my inner peace despite having heard the promises from God. Infact, I even forgot about the promises as the problems appeared insurmountable to me. I got tired standing by her side in the NICU, talking and singing to Victoria so she can hear my voice that it may help her, attempting to express milk that would not flow due to the stress, eating food every 2-3 hrs so my body could express milk felt like a meaningless exercise and I questioned why do this at all, and even listening to advise and instructions from everyone on what we should or should not do next.
In the midst of this confusion and exhaustion I heard the kind voice of God ask me, “Do you know what is your problem?” I told him I didn’t. He said, “Your problem is self-pity”. The moment I heard these words my eyes opened to a divine light which made me see clearly. All along I kept thinking just about myself on what I would do about the baby and how we would raise her and the challenges that awaited us. He also said another thing that just changed the way I saw Victoria after that day. He said, “Don’t treat her as a burden, treat her as a …..” I completed the sentence for Him by saying “Person.”
Regardless of the darkest hopelessness that loomed those first few weeks of her life, baby Victoria Vishwapriya made it out of the NICU after being there for 38 days. The grace of God and the support of hundreds of prayers from the people we knew and from complete strangers saw us through. Financial support came in from childhood friends, new friends, church, family, colleagues and people from across the world who didn’t even know us!
Stand firm on His Word
I’m reminded of 2 things that help me go on. The word of God promises and encourages us to believe that “By His stripes we were healed” and that “In this world we will have trouble, but we take heart because Jesus has overcome the world.”
Mother Teresa said once, “Let God use you without consulting you.” Facing this battle, connecting with friends who have supported me to continue keeping the faith in the name of Jesus that is above every name, with the right teaching from the Word of God, has helped me reach out to other mothers in similar situations so the flame of hope is passed on and then I am reminded what Jesus told Simon Peter…” And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers”
We stand for nothing less than a complete healing for Victoria believing that she is more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus. I am grateful to God for the support system we have who pray for Victoria’s restoration that she will be a witness to millions in the coming years and above all His loving presence that guides us to see that “He makes all things new” because He is the author of our lives.