God Reveals Himself through Trials
(This is part two of my series in which I intend to share some things God has done in the lives of my husband and me, supernatural things, that greatly encouraged us and served to bolster our faith for traversing the difficult times that would come in our lives. It is my sincere hope that these shared accounts of God’s glorious providence will serve to encourage others and help them build sustaining faith for the difficult days that lie ahead.)
God uses trials and temptations to draw us to himself. Hardly anyone would seek out a relationship with God if they didn’t have problems for which they were seeking answers. My husband, Stoner, and I were no exception. We both had believed in God since we were children, but we were not actively “going after” God until after some serious difficulties had come into our lives.
We were married in 1964. In 1965 my father was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor the same week I discovered I was pregnant with our first child. My father passed away five months later. At the same time my mother was ill with lymphoma. I would take my mother to one hospital in Baltimore for her cancer treatment and then we would drive over to Johns Hopkins Hospital to see my father where he was undergoing tests to determine what would soon be disclosed—that he had a malignant brain tumor.
One day mother and I were there in my father’s hospital room waiting for him to return from one of his tests. Stoner was in Quantico, Virginia seventy-five miles away going through another day of training at the Marine Corps Basic School. Suddenly a nurse rushed into our room and said, “Mrs. Baird, you need to come down to the nurses’ station right away. Your husband just went into a coma during the test and they have to perform emergency brain surgery immediately.”
We were absolutely devastated at the news. As we stood there and my mother was signing the papers, I glanced down the hallway behind us and saw Stoner walking towards us. He said, “They gave us the day off and I thought I would come up here to see what you guys are doing.”
In that instant I knew God had sent him to us. Having a day off from the Marine Corps Basic School was unheard of. Already, because of the Viet Nam war, Basic School had been shortened from six months to five months. They were cramming in as much as they could as fast as they could.
Another amazing thing was the timing of his arrival. We had no cell phones and no GPS systems. He had found his way to Johns Hopkins Hospital, a place he had never been before, and arrived at the exact moment the surgery was to begin. It makes me wonder—do we really have to have cell phones? They are a wonderful convenience but God can direct his people wherever and whenever he needs them to go, and they don’t even know it until they get there.
Stoner was a tremendous support and encouragement to us as we waited the long hours until the surgeon came out and told us the results of the surgery. It was a fast growing malignancy and they were only able to remove ninety percent of it. He was very sorry. They would try radiation.
I was twenty-two years old at the time. My father and mother were both dying of cancer, my husband would soon be going to fight in a war in Viet Nam, and I was pregnant with our first child. I knew I needed God. Up until then, I had thought life was pretty good and it would continue to be so, but unbeknownst to me, the storm clouds had been gathering and now the darkness of deep sorrow was descending upon our family. However, in the midst of that great distress, I realized for the first time that God actually knew me and cared about me and my family.
I had believed in God and said my prayers every night since I was six years old, but I had never been able to see his activity in my life to know for sure he really knew me and heard my prayers. Now I knew for sure. I also knew I needed to have faith to meet the challenges life could bring my way. Deep in my heart I determined I would get to know God and do my best to have a strong faith that could see me through whatever difficulties life might bring.
Another revelation I had that God was actively involved in our lives came just after my father passed away. Stoner was assigned a new duty station—Cherry Point, North Carolina. We had been sent to Quantico, Virginia, seventy miles from my parents’ home in Maryland, two weeks before my father was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. We were reassigned to Cherry Point two weeks after my father passed. I could clearly see that the Lord had sent us to Quantico so we could be near my parents and help them through these difficult days.
God had also provided for my mother to have help when we left. My brother, who was a Naval officer stationed in California clear across the continent from my parents’ home, had asked for a hardship tour to be stationed near my parents for the duration of my father’s illness and it had been granted.
Therefore when Stoner and I left for North Carolina, we knew that my mother would be cared for by my brother and his wife. We left knowing more than we had ever known that God was with us and he was watching over us and helping us.
This knowledge was a great comfort to me when two years later, Stoner was sent to Viet Nam. When he left, our first child was two years old and I was pregnant with our second. I was staying in Maryland with my mother who was again sick with a recurrence of her lymphoma. It was one of the most difficult times of my life, but I was able to get through it much better knowing that God was watching over us.
And I was right. When Stoner was in Viet Nam he was stationed on top of Monkey Mountain overlooking Da Nang. He was an air-controller assisting United States jets as they went out and returned from their assignments. He was able to see fighting at a distance all around, but he was safe where he was. Please keep in mind, this was several years before we all had computers and there was an Internet where we could find true news. We only knew what we were told.