The words that follow never are words of good news. September 1, 2018 was my darkest night, the hardest day of my life. My son, Urias, was born the day before. But after more than 20 min of not breathing, he was delivered lifeless, his entire body shut down. In reality, he was dead. But after almost 20 minutes of tireless and focused effort by the medical staff, and the prayers of his parents, Urias was raised from the dead. But the only thing the doctor could say was, “Your son is a very sick baby.” All of his organs were shut down and brain damage was an almost sure inevitability. They care flighted him to Plano and along the way he had a seizure. Though alive, his life had already become a battle.
I had to leave Hannah in the hospital to recover from her life threatening emergency c-section, and I followed my son to the hospital he was been care-flighted to. The next 24 hours would be the hardest day of my life.
Through a day of testing and questions and me learning new information about what they are looking for and what they are testing and checking, I spent much time by his side praying, and many times in my room weeping. At the end of the day, they called me in.
“Mr. Sheriff, could you please sit down.”
My heart sank while I sat slowly down in the chair. I braced my heart and mind to hear what they had to say, determined to be grateful and kind.
“Mr. Sheriff, your son had a very rough start.” They proceeded to try to explain in simplest of terms what happened as he was born and what they found form their tests. “Because of how long he was without oxygen, his brain took a very hard hit. He has had multiple seizures, and the most likely reality is that your son has cerebral palsy. He may suffer from seizures the rest of his life. He may never walk, he may never talk. He may never be able to feed himself or take care of himself.”
I know they have to say the worst possible scenario. I know they’ve had to have this talk with so many parents. They’ve had to deal with so much pain and sorrow and death in this NICU, as well as exhausted and emotional parents. And I knew they were doing their best for my son.
Through tear-glazed eyes, without much thought, I simply said, “Thank you, doctors. I appreciate what you’re doing and I know you’re doing everything you can for my son. But you need to know that my wife and I are people of faith. And there’s a lot of people praying for him. My son is going to surprise you.”
They were kind and compassionate, maybe hopeful as well. They never looked down on me or were condescending at all. They simply said, “We hope so. We will wait and see.”
As I said goodbye and kissed my son good night, I walked out of the NICU toward my room and it felt like everything slowed down in slow motion. I hear the ringing in my head of their words, “he may never walk… talk… take care of himself.” The images of that future shot at my mind like a firearm. And just as I get to the door to leave, it’s like everything stopped and there was quiet. And deep in my spirit I hear the still, small voice of Jesus, “Don’t be afraid, only believe.”
The voice of Jesus is like no other and there is no replacing his personal voice directly to you. Through weeping and praying, that night my simple response to him was, “I trust you.”
The rest of the story is for another time. But Urias was miraculously healed and is a 3 year old, loud, and active boy. He walks and talks, he feeds himself, and sooner or later he can take care of himself. That may take some more time.
My telling this part of the story is my reflection from 3 years ago this night. On my darkest night and hardest day, God was trustworthy. And he is worth trusting again and again. His words he spoke so gently, but firmly, in my spirit that day have been repeated numerous times again and again to me, “Don’t be afraid, only believe.” And it’s his word today as well.