God is at work in our lives. But sometimes that is hard to believe, let alone understand. My husband and I found this to be true concerning our family.
After a few years of marriage, we longed for children. But after seeing doctors, we realized this was not going to be an easy matter. About two years later our first child, Hannah Sifra, was conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Half an hour after birth, she was taken to a children's hospital where she was diagnosed with a major heart disease, transposition of the great arteries. On her eighth day of life, she underwent an operation and has been well since.
A year later, Roelf and I discussed our wish to have more children. Roelf was willing to try IVF again, but I longed for a natural conception. We spoke about this with our pastors, and they advised us to wait and pray. Less than a month later we discovered I was expecting a child.
During the pregnancy, we pondered this miracle. Frequently the biblical account of Abraham and Sarah came to our minds. When the angels told an elderly Sarah that she would finally become a mother, she laughed in disbelief. The angels responded by asking if anything was too difficult for God (Genesis 18:14).
When I was 39 weeks pregnant, I no longer felt life inside me. Our midwife came, couldn't find a heartbeat, and took us to the hospital. There we learned what we feared — our son had died. The next day we went back to the hospital and our son was born.
We didn't change the name that we had chosen, Esli, which means "protected by God." But this was not how we thought God would protect him.
Soon, God spoke to our hearts again with that question: "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" We took the Bible and read the next line where God promises the gift of a son to Sarah. We felt this was a promise for us, but we were bewildered. As we prayed about it, we placed our questions and our hope in God's hands. Of course we wanted to receive a son the next year, but why could we not keep Esli now?
Four months later, a pregnancy test was positive. This baby was due to be born one year and two days after Esli's birth! The middle name we had considered for Esli, but had not used, was Jason, which means "God heals." As we counted the weeks, that name was with us. God did heal us through giving us a healthy son, Jason, a year after Esli went to be with Him.
The text on the card announcing Esli's birth was I Thessalonians 4:14, referring to God bringing to life those who sleep in Christ. We are looking forward to the day when He will heal us completely—the day we may embrace our son Esli for the first time alive!
Nienke van Herwijnen and her husband, Roelf, live in Amersfoort, Netherlands, where they attend the Church of the Nazarene. Nienke is studying medicine and Roelf is a social worker.