There I was, my wife sleeping in a hospital bed next to my chair, resting from a very long day after receiving the worst news. She was seven months pregnant, and we'd been informed at a check-up earlier in the day, that we'd just lost a son. Mystery still surrounds what happened to cause such a tragedy. That day's bad news is why my wife and I are such ardent pro-life supporters.
And yet - the news of that day was bittersweet.
For you see, as she slept soundly, recuperating from the stress and anxiety of it all, I sat up through the night...listening; listening to the sound of yet another baby's heartbeat, pulsing away like an electronic symphony to my ears - a concerned father who listened for the slightest wavering sound, that might indicate a weakness in that heartbeat.
The bittersweetness of the day's news, was that while we lost a tiny little boy who we went on to name John Robert; we still had his twin brother, clinging to his mother's life. The specialist said that as long as his mother remained healthy, so would he. And so I sat there across from my wife, watching her sleep - and listening to my surviving son's heartbeat.
Sight and sound that evening gave me assurance, as long as those sights and sounds matched what the doctors and nurses said they were supposed to be.
But for me, that wasn't enough.
I needed some assurance from another source.
Since my parents had left us hours earlier, and it was the wee hours of the morning, I sat there listening to the thrumming sound of my son's little heart. And I remembered my mom and dad both telling us that they would continue to pray for Rebecca and the surviving baby. Prayer...that was what I needed. THAT, is what I would turn to for assurance.
So I prayed fervently. Throughout the early hours while my wife slept, I prayed over and over that the Good Lord would save our baby boy, and save my wife. And although I had heard the story before, I wish I could remember then, the story of Jesus and the Roman official's son.
Nevertheless, although Jesus wasn't physically manifested in my presence like he was for the Roman official in biblical times, when the Roman official needed him most - because of the way my parents raised me, and the teachings from my family, and Sunday school teachers, and youth pastors, and pastors - the fervent prayer provided the assurance I needed at the time.
The next day came and went, and so did doctors and nurses throughout the next day. The second night I slept more soundly, though more prayers were still whispered, and my wife and I still stayed up listening to the surviving baby heartbeat.
But as we finally packed up for home, and although my wife was assigned to bed rest for the rest of her pregnancy - thanks to the faith I'd been grounded in for most of my young life, and the power of prayer, and the loving friends and family that surrounded us and offered their love and support - it was like I had the same assurance you read about with the Roman official. I was reminded of that when I read these words from John 4.
" "Go," Jesus replied, "your son will live." The man took Jesus at his word and departed."
In the story from the book of John, the official puts together the timing of events in his head, from the time he encountered Jesus, and the time his servants said his son recovered. That connection assured that Roman official that Jesus is who He said He was, and I'm sure that official was glad he trusted Jesus that day.
Today, my son is a full grown young man. He is a healthy, young, slender version of his father and grandfathers. And thankfully, I can read chapter 4 of the book of John, and realize that during that most trying time in our marriage - God provided me with the same faith that Roman official had. And while I cannot speak for my wife and tell you how much assurance she had in those uncertain times, I thank God that He helped me be the rock for our family.
So now, whenever I look at our son, I hear those words from Jesus:
"Go," Jesus replied, "your son will live."
And thankfully, that is yet one more story that can be told.