The birth of our first grandchild in 2010 included an event that still gives me shivers.
My son, daughter-in-law, her mother, my wife and I had gone out to dinner, and then we went to the hospital for the start of our daughter-in-law’s induced labor. After she was settled into the birthing room, we went home to sleep – it would be some time before the baby would arrive.
About 11:30, I was starting to drift off to sleep when the phone rang. It was our daughter-in-law, telling us our son was in the emergency room at the hospital. She hurriedly explained that he had fainted (empathy for her dislike of needles) and hit his head on the floor. Within minutes I was on my way to the hospital.
When I got to his beside in the emergency room, I knew his condition was serious. He recognized me, but it took him some time to tell the doctor who I was. And he kept asking, over and over again, “Where’s my wallet?” I answer that question at least 20 times. He was x-rayed, and the doctor could see a small hematoma, or pooling of blood, beneath the skull. He was kept overnight; I returned home, seriously shaken.
Late the next morning, our daughter-in-law in labor on one floor of the hospital, my son was x-rayed again. The hematoma was growing, putting pressure on the skull. He was having a severe headache. Within a few hours, the neurosurgeon came in while the pastor from the church was there in the room with me and my son (my wife was in the labor room with our daughter-in-law). And he said our son needed surgery, and as soon as possible. Brain surgery. He described exactly how they would get through the skull to relieve the pressure.
This isn’t happening, I kept telling myself. This is a bad dream.
The doctor left, the pastor looked at my son and I and said, “Let’s pray.” The pastor and I went down on our knees next to my son’s bed. And we prayed.
It was the first moment of absolute calm in a tumultuous day. From that moment on, I knew that it would be okay. I didn’t know how, but I just knew.
Sometime around 4 p.m., my son was being wheeled down to the surgical floor. The nurses made a stop on the second floor, for him to see his wife, now well into labor. Then he was taken to surgery. The surgery was successful; they were able to stop and control the hematoma. Very early the next morning, they wheeled him in his bed to the labor room, where he was able to coach his wife through the final 30 minutes. And then came our grandson Cameron.
“From my own experience,” writes Francis Chan in Forgotten God: The Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, "I have felt closest to God when nearness to him was a necessity. The Bible says that the Spirit comes through in situations where we would normally be afraid. We experience the Holy Spirit guiding us in desperate situations."
What Francis Chan has written here is true. I can testify to it. I should have been a basket case. I experienced the full range of emotions – anxiety, concern, worry, shock, fear. The concern never left. But I knew it would be okay. And it was.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading Chan’s Forgotten God. To see more posts on this chapter, “A Real Relationship,” please visit Sarah at Living Between the Lines.
Top photograph by Paul Brennan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.