One evening, as I relaxed in my hammock I thought, I love days when many of the Canelas are away hunting meat for a festival. No one to bother me as I catch up on my reading.
Jo was next door attending the birth of a baby that had been coming since the afternoon. With our three daughters in boarding school in Belem, I had our mud-walled, palm thatch house peacefully to myself for the next hour or two.
But only ten minutes into my book I heard a kid running towards the house. He burst in through the open back door and shouted, “Your wife wants you to come right now!” I jogged after him and entered the room where a typical Canela birth scenario was unfolding. The young mother-to-be on the pole and mat bed was leaning back against her husband who had his arms around her below her breasts ready to tighten and squeeze down when the moment came. A couple of elderly women were taking turns feeling inside her to check the position of the baby. What was not typical was that her head lolled to one side and her unseeing eyes were rolled up so that only the whites showed.
Jo looked at me with deep concern showing on her face and said in English, “Honey, this woman is dying. She is unconscious. I can’t even feel her pulse anymore. She has been in labour too long. We need to do something or she’ll die.” I checked her pulse on the side of her throat, it was faint and slow. Not a good sign. If she died now the baby would die too.
I prayed as I ran back to the house, “Lord, give me wisdom and give it now!” I grabbed a flashlight and began to look over the medicine shelves at the scores of bottles, boxes and packages. We had everything from antibiotics to anti snake bite serum, from pills for intestinal parasites and diarrhea, to eye and ear drops. I had no idea what I was looking for.
Suddenly, behind some dental extraction tools and anesthetic, an ampoule stood out, Adrenalin. Hmm, that’s for allergic shock. I remembered. It makes the heart beat faster and stronger. Okay, that’s it! I grabbed the ampoule and a syringe and needle. In the bright light of my flashlight laid on a shelf, I drew in several millilitres of adrenalin and ran back to the house. Still praying, I grabbed her arm and injected the contents into her upper arm.
I felt for the pulse point in her throat. 5 seconds, 10 seconds, I could feel a stronger beat. 15 seconds her heart was beating hard and fast. Her eyes popped wide open, she stiffened, gave a scream and a mighty push. The husband squeezed down, everyone shouted, and within a minute, Whump! There was the baby! Whew!
“Thank you, Lord,” I prayed as I walked back home, wondering if I could get back to my book. “Thank you for focusing my eyes on that adrenaline.”
It’s amazing what we can accomplish in situations where we have nothing to lose. The woman and the baby were going to die. That was sure. We had heard of it happening before. When death is inevitable and near, people will take crazy chances. Nothing to lose, everything to gain.
God often works his greatest miracles at times of utter desperation. Queen Esther and all the Jews of the Persian empire were facing certain death. Only the emperor could stop the executions. Although Esther was the wife of the emperor, she risked her life if she came to him without being called. But she went saying, “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” Esther 4:16 (NIV). She was going to die anyway and had everything to gain. Her act of desperation in the end saved the lives of all her people.
Four lepers were starving outside the walls of a besieged city. “If we sit here we die” they reasoned. “If we go into the city we die. Let’s go over to the besieging enemy, they might give us food. The worst they can do is kill us and we’re going to die anyway.” Their act of desperation in the end saved the lives of everyone in the besieged city. Read the whole story in 2 Kings 6:24 to 7: 20.
It’s amazing what God can do in desperate deadly situations where we have everything to gain by trusting Him.