Catskill, NY, c. September, 1987. Our baby was only three months old. All skin and bones, Baby Alice was so weak that she could no longer lift her little head. The doctors were helpless as the life continued to slip away from her tiny, limp body.

Our little girl was dying before our eyes, and no one knew why. Her pediatrician said she needed to gain weight–at least half an ounce per day. But she would only eat a little, and then regurgitate the small amount she had consumed. Little Alice grew weaker by the hour.

I am thankful for medical science. It is certainly a blessing from heaven, the wisdom of God on loan to men. But it is not our ultimate resource in the day of trouble.

The doctors could do no more, but faith had just begun.

Sometimes faith keeps us out of the fire; sometimes it preserves us as we pass through the flames. In either case, God is glorified.

Of course, we had been praying for our baby all along. And I frankly don’t understand everything I know about the interaction between faith and prayer. It’s a good thing to use faith and patience to inherit the promises (Heb.6:12), but it’s just stupid to let your baby die instead of asking the church for help.

So we brought our daughter for prayer, and the pastor wisely called for just the ladies of the church. (It may not be politically correct to acknowledge our differences, but guys try to remain stoic in these situations.) Those women let their emotions flow as they prayed over a dying baby. (It got loud!)

From that moment, Alice began to gain a full ounce a day, as the strength returned to her muscles, and the flesh to her limbs. (It was quite some time before we learned that she was allergic to the protein in milk, and we changed her diet to soy formula. In fact, from a medical point of view, she should not have improved when she did. Nevertheless, she continued to gain weight, and got quite plump for a time.) Today she has a little girl of her own, and serves as a youth leader for her church in Colorado.

There are two points we should not fail to notice here:

  1. God likes to work when nothing else will.
  2. Read back through the gospels. We like to see several references to “great faith”. But it is much more common that the power of God is precipitated by compassion for hurting people. (Matt. 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 20:34, Mark 1:41, 5:19, Luke 7:13)

Perhaps if we showed more compassion, the world would have more faith.