Today’s Word on Wednesday comes from my dear friend and partner in ministry, Juliet Sharrow. You may have read some of her testimony in recent months about God’s pursuing love. Now she shares how His gift of grace empowered her to finally respond to Him. After reading her words, you may be blessed to know she just had the privilege of watching this beloved son walk the stage to receive his high school diploma. Whatever you may be going through, know this, dear one. There is ALWAYS hope in Jesus.
A Gift of Grace by Juliet Sharrow
From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16
I had spent my life running from God. Desperate for love and caught in an abusive relationship, I made one destructive choice after another. Then God did something I didn’t expect. He chose to bless me with a child.
I was so excited when I found out I was pregnant. I would love my child in all the ways I hadn’t been loved. I would somehow make it all right.
Then I got the worst news an expectant mother could hear. The doctor called to tell me that something was wrong with my unborn child. The routine blood tests they had done showed that my child would have Down’s Syndrome and possibly Spina Bifida as well. I felt like my world came crashing down. Then the doctor said something I could scarcely believe. They were recommending that I have an abortion.
I sunk down on my knees, horrified at what I was hearing! How could this be? My baby was alive; I could hear the heartbeat and I could feel the kicking. How could I destroy this precious gift I’d been given? I did not understand what I was getting into, but I knew one thing: I couldn’t end this child’s life. He was my hope! I told the doctor in no uncertain terms that I would never choose that for me or my child.
The next several weeks were a blur as medical personnel escorted me into private rooms to watch videos about children with these conditions, “so I would know what I was getting myself into.” I met with doctors who tried to explain that a woman in my situation— unmarried and with no support network—could certainly not handle a child with issues of this magnitude. They assured me I did not understand how impossible things would be. But I never wavered. Somehow I knew that God had blessed me with this child, and I would have this baby no matter what they said.
So a month after I heard the devastating news, I underwent a sonogram to see if the doctor could see the abnormalities that are usually present with these conditions. What happened next can only be described as a miracle. There were NO abnormalities. The baby was perfect in every way!
The doctor insisted there must be some mistake. And so she checked and rechecked, and decided that the baby was too small for me to be as far along as they originally thought. Her new measurements said I was one month behind where I should have been and so they changed my due date to one month later. They retook the blood tests and assured me that everything had come back normal this time! I cried as I left the doctor’s office that day.
I know now the enemy had tried to convince me to give up on my child, to destroy his precious life. But somehow God had given me the strength to hold on. Just like He promises in 1 Corinthians 10:13,
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
I believe that Satan tempted me with an easy way out. My life was not good at the time, and bringing a child into that world was what some would call crazy! But, I know that God provided a way out for me. He helped me to stand up under it. He filled me with love for my unborn child. He gave me strength to endure, and His peace soothed my soul.
A few months later my son was born. The doctors said he was 4 weeks premature. It was 4 days after the original due date they had given me. And he was perfect, not premature in any way, a healthy 6lb 4oz baby boy! He was my gift from God.
Psalm 127:3 says, “See children are a gift from the Lord. The children born to us are our special reward.” (NLV)
At that time in my life I did not deserve any special reward. I had run from God and turned my back on Him more times than I could count! But God in His infinite wisdom knew that what I needed was grace. He gave me this gift instead of what I deserved.
I needed that child because I was in a pit. A pit of self-loathing and self-despair, a pit of oppression. I was so low I could not find a way out. In fact, I did not WANT out. I felt like I deserved everything that was happening to me. God knew what I needed to give me the strength to get out of that pit. I needed someone else to live for, someone else to love. I did not love myself enough, but He knew I would love my child enough to claw my way out of that pit. That through the love of my child, I would finally turn to Him, finally seek Him instead of running from Him. I learned that when I resist temptation and do what I know is right, God will provide the strength I need to endure. And I would learn the greatest lesson of my life: that God’s grace isn’t based on what I’ve done. It’s about God giving me what He knows I need, even when I don’t deserve it.