‘For the first time, I was clinging onto God, like a Father’

Paulina’s story | A prayer for our baby

“I am from Chile. I went to seminary there and I met my husband, Andrew, through mutual friends. We served for six years with CMS, in Bolivia and Chile. Towards the end of that time, I began to wonder more. I knew that Jesus was my Lord, but I didn’t feel that God was my Father. I knew that the Bible says God is our loving Father, but I didn’t feel it in my heart. I didn’t feel I could ask anything of him. I knew that he chose me, but who was I to come before him?

Then we found out I was pregnant with our fourth child. At 18 weeks, I had a hunch that something was wrong. The scans showed a white mark all over her chest. The doctors said she wasn’t viable. We talked to CMS and they advised us to come back to Australia. We packed up everything in our home very quickly. It was quite traumatic. We found someone to stay in the house and we left the cat in Chile.

In Australia, we went to see obstetricians. They said there was a large tumour where her lungs should be. It was really bad. She had no lungs or trachea. For me, it was like a crossroads. I needed to ask God for something. Would I ask him to heal our baby… or would I accept I had no standing to ask him for anything?

The obstetrician was advising termination, but we didn’t want to go that way. Every time we opened the Bible, it was about the breath of life, or about God being able to do it. For example, in Ezekiel 37, God breathed life into dry bones. I cried so much. Eventually, we began to pray that God would do his will. If it was his will to give our baby lungs and life, then please do that. If it was his will to take her home and spare her from the pain and suffering of this world, then please do that. Every morning, I would wake up and pray for a miracle, standing with my face to the sun and thanking God for his grace. Every evening, though, I would go to bed, thinking about her funeral. Who would we like to preach? It was both of those things at the same time.

I went into labour with a lot of peace, knowing that whatever happened, God would still be God. The doctors had told us that if she cries, they would know she had a small amount of lungs and they would give her a chance. If she didn’t cry, then they would give her to us and let her pass away in our arms.

She cried. It was a tiny cry, like a kitten. They wrapped her and took her away. Abi was alive. It was a miracle. But she was very, very sick. She had two large surgeries and then we took her home at 6 weeks. For the first year, she vomited all the time. She couldn’t gain wait and she was very listless. We were devastated again, worse than before. Abi was always back in hospital, always about to die. It was during that year that I said, “Lord, you are faithful and good. I am not. Please don’t let go of me.” It was the first time that I was clinging onto God, like a Father.

Abi got better, slowly. She’s five now, in kindy. But for that whole time, it was like I joined Job in saying, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (42:5) The whole time, God sustained us. Even more than the miracle of her life and birth, he sustained us through the year of vomiting and being so near to death. He held on to me when I could do nothing. He showed me that he is my Father and I can come to him. He wants to shape me, like Jesus. I think it has changed me forever.”

Paulina’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.