The night seemed never-ending. Even the face of the physician was strained with worry. It looked like they might lose both Ellen and the baby, but somehow, even through the darkness of that long, long night, the new-found hope remained. That fragile faith had taken root, against all odds, and held him fast.
As dawn broke, weak newborn cries brought tears of joy and relief to the weary father's eyes. He held his son in his arms and marveled at this miracle, heart swelling with gratitude.
He leaned over Ellen and held the baby so that she could see him. She smiled weakly and traced her finger down the feathery soft cheek, a tear escaping her eye. She was too weak to even hold him, to say a word.
For what seemed like hours he sat beside her holding their child, pleading with God to spare Ellen's life. He studied that baby, so tiny, so perfect, and thought again of what had happened last night, remembered what Ella Jane had written. That baby boy, born so long ago, was truly God's greatest gift. Jesus, born in a dark hour, when the Jews had so little hope...when humanity was in despair.... He had brought hope. He was hope! And this child he now held, born when all was darkness and despair, had brought hope. A new life, new promise.
He remembered then what someone had once told him. "It's in the darkest of times when God does His best work."
Nothing had really changed, he knew. He still had no job, the bills were still overdue, this new baby needed so many things that he couldn't provide, and Ellen was barely clinging to life. Yet, he felt peace. Surrender had brought an inexplicable resolve to trust even though he didn't know the outcome. Because of the child of Bethlehem. The Promise fulfilled.
He felt the doctor's hand on his shoulder. "I think she'll be alright, Son," Doc said. Relief and gratitude washed over him. "Thank God," was all he could manage.
Later, when Ellen and the baby were sleeping, he entered the kitchen to find the kind doctor's wife bustling about, unloading food from loaded baskets onto the table. John and Ella Jane sat in awe, mouths gaping. He noticed the gifts under the tree just as Ella Jane pointed them out. He turned to the doctor's wife in bewilderment. She held up a hand, wouldn't let him express his gratitude. Just told him that they had been impressed to do this for some time now, and that they were happy to be of assistance. She said it matter-of-factly, like she didn't realize what a miraculous blessing had been given to this little family. Said Doc and she were happy to do it.
So these were some of those saints he'd heard about....
Everything would be alright now. He didn't know how, he just believed it. It would take some doing and more faith and hard work than ever before, but he knew God wouldn't fail him. He couldn't wait to tell Ellen's parents about this. Somehow he had to make them see that he had done his best, and that God had turned it into...enough.
He went back in to check on Ellen and the baby. He stood there, gazing down at these living, breathing miracles, and thanked His Father for what he could see Him doing even now, through the eyes of faith.
His hope had been restored.