Storms Don’t Last Long | 3 Powerful Choices to Navigate Life as Christians

Joining us today in Yakima is one who has walked with me through the many storms of life. She is my wife and my partner in our Christian journey – Sheeba Bhaskaran. Many years ago, through the birth of our daughter Elizabeth, Sheeba and I were thrown into a storm. No one is ever prepared to face a storm, but when one comes, unpredicted and unforeseen, what do we do? How do we survive? How can we make it across to the other side?

We discuss:

  • A Beautiful Day Turns Dark | The Storm Begins
  • 3 Powerful Choices that Helped us Navigate the Storm
    • 1. Choosing Life Over Abortion | Why Christians Can’t Play God
    • 2. Remembering that God is Sufficient | Compassionately Walking with Others
    • 3. Our Hope is in Scripture | Finding Joy & Peace
  • The Big Day | Finally Meeting Our Daughter Elizabeth
  • Sheeba’s Advice to Other Women in the Storm
  • Final Exhortations | Storms Don’t Last Long…But You Will

A Beautiful Day Turns Dark | The Storm Begins

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 

Mark 4:35-36 (ESV)

The twelve men who followed Jesus onto the boat had this thought in mind: “What could go wrong? The Lord is with us on the boat. What could ever happen?” Suddenly, out of nowhere, dark clouds gathered. The gentle warmth of the sun turned into the wrath of nature. Sheeba and I recall one of these storms vividly; it was a deceptively sunny winter day – January 15, 2003 – and we received heart-wrenching news.

Our Personal Storm | The Shocking News

Sheeba and I moved to Yakima in April of 2002, and we wanted to have a second child; our son Michael was three years old at the time. We prayed and prayed, and one day in prayer, Sheeba believed she would be pregnant soon. The very next month she had a positive pregnancy test!

Her first trimester was quite difficult with hyperemesis; she wasn’t able to keep any food down, she was losing weight, feeling very tired, not able to do things around the house, and not able to keep up with our very active three year old.

But finally, it was time to find out if our baby was a boy or girl. About eight weeks into Sheeba’s pregnancy, our son Michael had asked her why she was so sick. Sheeba replied that she had a baby in her tummy, and Michael immediately asked, “Is that baby Elizabeth?” He was very certain it was going to be a girl, and that she would be named Elizabeth.

We went to see the doctor for a routine ultrasound and found out we were expecting a girl, just like Michael had said! But when we saw the images, they weren’t normal; the doctor took Sheeba’s hands and said, “We need to get you to Seattle because this is not a normal pregnancy, you might lose the baby.”

Feeling Shaken & Numb in the Storm

I remember the kind of day it was when we left the doctor’s office. It was clear outside, a beautiful day. Just like the disciples, I had thought, “God is with us. What can go wrong?” Suddenly the storm came.

That day felt hollow. Chills ran through my spine when I heard the news, and I was shaken. I hoped that it was just a dream that I could wake up from. We had just come to Yakima as immigrants. We didn’t have anybody else in this place. We didn’t have a church home yet, or family and friends that could support us.

And yet, Sheeba recalled:

I remember walking out of the clinic, not really wanting to accept what I had just heard, wanting to wake up from that nightmare. But one small thought, or sense, that I had was that there were two tall angels that were walking beside me on either side. I could not understand it, I still don’t understand it. But I think it was God saying, “I’ve got you in this storm,” in spite of all the bad news that we had received that day.

3 Powerful Choices that Helped us Navigate the Storm

The bad news was devastating, but I want focus on what helped us as we weathered through the storm. Sheeba felt as though two angels were standing beside her; she had at least a glimpse of hope that God’s got it. I want everybody to know, “Storms don’t last long, but you will.” Every storm has a beginning, and every storm has an expiration date.

1. Choosing Life Over Abortion | Why Christians Can’t Play God

When we arrived at the University of Washington’s medical center, we were given a two hour ultrasound with state-of-the-art technology. We could see Elizabeth’s little nose, chin, everything. When the doctors looked at her intestines, we found out they were diseased and perforated from meconium peritonitis.

Our OBGYN proposed abortion, citing a mere 2% chance of the Elizabeth’s survival without significant health challenges. They did a procedure to aspirate some of the fluid to help her growth in utero, but even then, their recommendation was to abort the pregnancy.

As a medical doctor, I was tempted to just do what the specialists were recommending; I wanted this nightmare to be over. We both grew up in India where abortion was accepted. Several of our family members have had abortions. The only people we could call back home would tell us, “Just do what the doctors say.” But something within Sheeba and I could not accept that.

There was one friend who spoke to us and said, “If God has given you this baby, then let Him be the one that takes the life of the baby. Why are you taking the life of the life of the baby into your hands?” And in our state of numbness, that’s the thing that made most sense.

We decided to keep the baby. God is God, and we refused to play God; He gave us the baby, and He could be the one to take the baby away if He willed.

We didn’t know what to expect in the next 4 to 5 months, but no matter the outcome, God is good.

  • If He were to take the life of the baby, He is still good.
  • If He gave the baby to us, He is still good.
  • If our baby did not have a good quality of life, He is still good.

Sheeba said the song “God is Good All the Time” often came to mind, and she thought about the Scripture from Job:

Hold your peace with me, and let me speak, then let come on me what may! Why do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put my life in my hands? Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.

Job 13:13-15 (NJKV)

2. Remembering that God is Sufficient | Compassionately Walking with Others

Our challenges didn’t stop when we left UW, deciding to keep baby Elizabeth. The doctors wanted Sheeba to have a weekly ultrasound, and every week we would get more bad news. Elizabeth’s lungs weren’t developing, her heart wasn’t developing, her intestines were all clumped up; every week it was something worse.

On top of that, Sheeba had pruritus of pregnancy, and her body was reacting to the baby. Her skin was itchy and she just couldn’t sleep. Michael and I would sleep on the floor just to let her rest. I felt so confused because as a medical doctor, I wanted to fix the problem. I would ask, “Okay, can I give this? What about that? How about this?” We were trying different medications, but none of them seemed to work or offer any relief.

One day, I was literally weeping in our bedroom as Sheeba was trying to sleep, and I remember crying out, “Lord, I don’t know what to do.” And that was the time I heard the Holy Spirit tell me:

“I don’t want you to be her doctor. I don’t want you to be her pastor. I want you to be her husband. Love her. Walk with her. Don’t advise her; hold her as you go through.”

If you’re facing a storm right now, remember that you can walk through it together in compassion:

  • With God
  • With your spouse
  • With your children

Hold on to them, and don’t try to fix or eradicate the problem. Hold on to them and say, “God, you are enough.” It took all the strength in my life to do that. I shut my mouth; my medical science couldn’t help us. But I knew together with God, we were going to walk through this, whatever the outcome.

3. Our Hope is in Scripture | Finding Joy & Peace

During this time, Sheeba delved into Scripture, particularly the Psalms. As she was reading them, she found that what the Bible said was very different from what the doctors were saying at that time; there was much more hope in the Scripture. God rescued Gideon and Sampson, He moved through Deborah.

We hear that God is alive: He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He’s the same God that is with me right now, and He has not changed. I cannot treat the Bible as a history book. I cannot treat the Bible as a textbook. The Bible is my journal that is relevant today. How could I read the Bible and not have hope that our child would live?

I think of that time as the turning point, when we began to read Scripture and find hope in it. Until then, we were just on cruise control and thinking, “Let’s just survive this. Our child is going to die, and everything is going to come to an end.” That’s not what God has in store for you!

There were times of tears; every time Sheeba wept, little Michael would run to the bathroom a grab a little toilet tissue to wipe her tears. It was not an easy time for our family, but hope and peace was being birthed in our hearts through the Bible. Even when people came to mourn or grieve with us, we began to be filled with an inexplicable joy and peace; we began to dream about what life could be like, in spite of the news. We began to ask, “What if Elizabeth will live? What if we’re going to have a child that will be healed, that will survive, that will thrive?”

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7 (ESV)

And quite honestly, our time of dreaming was maybe 1/20th of our time of mourning. We were more submerged in sorrow than with the dreams, but it felt good to be lost in those dreams for just a little bit.

The Big Day | Finally Meeting Our Daughter Elizabeth

On April 3rd – three weeks early – Sheeba’s water broke. We went to the ER, and then up to the OR for a cesarean section. The operating theater was packed with about 20 people; everyone was expecting a premature baby who would need a lot of help.

Elizabeth’s Delivery | A Miracle That Stunned the Doctors

When it came to delivery, we were expecting a sick, scrawny looking baby that was underweight because she was premature. The doctors had not expected her lungs to mature. They told us that she may not cry at all.

But when Elizabeth came out, everyone could hear a loud, healthy cry. It filled the operation theater, and I remember the neonatologist just walked up to us and said, “The lungs are good.” It was the first time we had received any good news about our daughter, and that’s when we knew the Lord was moving.

Sunny brought her to me, and she was wearing a pink and white cap with a pom pom on top. There were two chubby cheeks under that cap. I’d never seen a baby with chubby cheeks. Our firstborn was wrinkled; my mom said, “He looks like a prune, he needs some water.” But Elizabeth was chubby.

Elizabeth weighed in at 6 lbs 14 ounces, a normal weight even as a preemie. God was already taking charge of the situation. After birth, she was airlifted to Seattle Children’s Hospital for a procedure to correct her intestines. Sheeba couldn’t leave Yakima because of the C-section, so I drove to Seattle in our car to meet the airlift. The hospital called me and asked if we had our calculations right because they hadn’t expected to see such a healthy newborn.

Recovery & Deciding to Write Our Testimony

We gave the hospital consent to bring Elizabeth into surgery before I arrived. She was in the OR for almost 6 hours. They gave us a little room in Children’s Hospital, and I laid down and thought about the Lord, praying. There were some computers there for guests to use while they were at the hospital. I went to the computer and began to type something when I felt the Holy Spirit tell me, “Sunny, I want you to tell everybody: You are not alone, you will never walk alone.”

  • In your pain, God is with you.
  • In your tears, God will lead you.
  • In your confusion, God will care for you.

The outcome is not guaranteed, but God’s presence is; that is the surety you have. Elizabeth came out of the surgery and began to recover. Today, she’s perfectly fine! We thought we were going to lose her, and thank God, we decided we would not abort our child. 

The lesson we learned – through the greatest pain of our life – is that pain doesn’t last long. With God in our lives, we can outlast the storm and come to the other side with a smile on our face and joy in our heart.

Sheeba’s Advice to Other Women in the Storm

There are so many women and mothers walking through pain and storms of various kinds. I asked Sheeba what her advice is for those women, what she would tell them:

God is with you, and God is for you. If you need hope for your situation, look into the Bible, look at the book of Psalms, because you can have hope! No matter what the situation is, whether you’re getting over the death of a loved one, if you’re going through financial struggle, if you’re faced with sickness. The Bible is your friend, and the Bible offers hope. It says, “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word is God in our situations, and if you want an appointment with God, read your Bible.

The Word of God comforted and strengthened us; it gave us the faith for our child. Elizabeth was in the hospital for just over 30 days, recovering faster than anyone expected. As we were leaving, and I asked the doctors about what we should expect for Elizabeth’s future.

The doctor said, “We cannot guarantee anything; at anytime she could get into trouble.” As we walked out of the hospital, I was talking to the Lord and I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me in Scripture:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness [graciousness, mercy, compassion] endures forever.

Psalm 136:1 (AMP)

Final Exhortations | Storms Don’t Last Long, But You Will

It is not our fate that brings about the result. It is not our courage that brings the result. It is God’s mercy. Our baby was alive because of His mercy, and His mercy endures forever. His mercy is going to stretch into eternity; longer than my life, Sheeba’s life or Elizabeth’s life. You can rely on the mercy of God.

My friends, I want to encourage you – whatever storm you’re facing – be sure that Jesus is in the boat with you. Have a relationship with God, talk to Him, and read the Bible. For us, Scripture was the key that gave us hope. The same Scripture is alive today, sharper than any two-edged sword.

Your life will change, you will come through the storm, the clouds will go away, and the sun will shine again. You might think all hope is lost, but there is hope through the storm. Cheer up, my brother. Cheer up, my dear.

Storms don’t last long…but you will. God bless you. 

Sheeba and I have written this testimony in our book called “Storms Don’t Last Long, But You Will.” We talk about our story, about the secret of our strength walking through the storm, and what we learned. We even pulled together all the Scriptures that gave us hope during this time. You can download a free version of the book on our website. If this post has been a blessing to you, we’d love to hear from you. Thank you!

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