'Three days after Peter’s accident, I went into labour. He was still unconscious'
Helen’s story | Psalm 91 and the plan of God
“My husband, Peter, and I and our four children lived in Mussoorie, North India, in the 1950s and 60s. He was the principal at the boarding school there. In July, 1963, I was about to give birth to our fourth child, when everything changed. Peter had gone up to the school to take the staff to a Bible study. While he was out, I got a phone call. His vehicle had gone over the edge, 75 feet down the hill. It was the monsoon, and the road had simply collapsed.”
“Somehow, I started walking up that hill, heavily pregnant. I had to see him. It was too steep for a rickshaw. When I reached the spot, they said that Peter had been thrown out of the van and it landed on top of him. They had found his body and put him in an ambulance. I got in too. Peter was not responsive, but during the trip he kept calling out, ‘Lord help me …’ over and over again.
“At the hospital, everyone was worried. Peter was vomiting blood. They weren’t sure if he would live through the night. I went to a nearby guesthouse and found a bed. I stayed awake for hours. At about 2am, I turned the light on, and reached for my Bible. It fell open at Psalm 91. The last two verses seemed to stand out from the page. ‘He will call upon me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and honour him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.’ (verses 15-16). Peter had been calling out to the Lord, all the way to Mussoorie in the ambulance, even though he was unresponsive.
“I turned the light off and I felt the most incredible sense of peace. It passed all understanding. I somehow knew the Lord was in charge and that he was with Peter, as well as with me and our unborn baby and our other children. Somehow, God would uphold us and answer us.
“I knew that God had upheld us before, in a different way. Ten months earlier, our three-year-old son had drowned in the school swimming pool. It was a tragedy. Our ayah [nanny] was with him at the time, and they weren’t able to revive him. All these years later, it’s still hard … and yet I know that the Lord allows things … and we don’t understand why.
“Three days after Peter’s accident, I went into labour. Peter was still unconscious. I gave birth without Peter there. Then, about a week after the accident, I walked into Peter’s hospital room. He was still not responding. There was a nurse by his bed. Her name was Daisy. She was reading her Bible, out loud. ‘Daisy,’ I said. ‘You’re reading Psalm 91!’
“’Yes,’ she said. Then I told her that I’d read Psalm 91 on the night of the accident. She said, ‘Helen, I was one of the nurses caring for Peter that night… and in the early hours of the morning, when we checked him, we couldn’t find a pulse. We prayed and laid hands on him, according to the Bible … and felt his pulse return, so we thanked the Lord and read Psalm 91 together.’
“‘Daisy,’ I said, ‘Do you know what time that was?’
“‘Of course,’ she said. ‘We entered the time on his chart. It was 2:10am.’
“It was the exact time I had been reading Psalm 91, in my room in the guesthouse. If I hadn’t entered the hospital room, at that moment, I wouldn’t have heard Daisy reading Psalm 91 and I wouldn’t have known her side of the story, and she wouldn’t have known mine.
“It showed me that God has a plan for us all. At times, we can’t see his purposes, or understand them, but we need to trust him.
“Peter survived. He’s 94 now and we’re enjoying long life! But God doesn’t always allow things to work out the way we want them to. Even so, every day, we have to trust that he’s in control. And that’s still true for me, today.”