Kenneth Ching lived a comfortable life—with a great job, a big house, and an easy faith. He went to church and believed in God’s goodness. But when his son is born with a serious and rare genetic condition, his life is thrown into terrifying chaos.
In his honest and raw memoir, Shattered Prayers: The Testing of a Father’s Faith, Ching brings to life his experience of letting go while learning to truly trust the Savior he claims to know. Ching doesn’t shy away from asking the hard questions: Why does God answer some prayers but not others? How does prayer work? Is God even listening?
Shattered Prayers is ultimately a story about recognizing God’s presence and faithfulness in the midst of brokenness. And how one man thought God ruined his life by giving his son a terrible disease, but eventually realized God was actually fighting to save his faith and his son’s life.
Enjoy this excerpt from Shattered Prayers:
Suddenly the gynecologist is holding our baby. His tiny body is covered with bloody fluids. His face is mashed up. His eyes are closed. To me, he looks a little blue, but the doctor says his color looks good.
“Ten toes and fingers,” she says.
She offers me scissors for cutting the umbilical cord, but I decline. I don’t think I can take seeing all the blood and guts, and I definitely don’t want to cut anything that’s coming out of Erin’s abdomen, so I ask the gynecologist to do it. The nurse wraps Joshua in a towel, puts a little cap on him, and hands him to Erin. Erin cradles Joshua in her arms, as a smile of joy and relief spreads across her face.
We quickly notice, however, that Joshua’s breathing is labored. The nurse gives us a blue bulb to suction goop out of his mouth to help him breathe. She doesn’t seem worried. She says we can spend some time with Joshua, but then she’ll take him to the nursery. She leaves, and the room becomes quiet.
Erin tries to nurse Joshua, but he doesn’t seem able to suck. Erin doesn’t seem worried. She read that babies sometimes need a couple of days to learn how to properly latch.
Joshua falls asleep. Erin is exhausted but happy. I’m hovering around the bed, and Erin asks me if I want to hold him. I kind of don’t. I’m not sure how to do it. He’s so small, and I don’t want to break something. But Erin lifts him into my arms, and I hold him close to my chest. He looks like me, with his big, round head—a tiny Charlie Brown.
“Hey there, little guy,” I say. His breathing is ragged, so I insert the blue bulb into his mouth and try to suck out some congestion. Nothing comes, but I’m sure his breathing will even out on its own.
The nurse returns to take Joshua to the nursery. I go with her, and we enter a pink and yellow room full of nurses and babies. The nurse sets Joshua in a little bed under a heating lamp, giving him a tag on his leg and me a bracelet to identify me as his father.
One of the nurses turns Joshua on his side. His rib cage is straining against his skin as he breathes.
“You’re really struggling, little guy,” the nurse says.
“The doctor said he needs to clear some fluid out of his lungs,” I say.
“Hmm,” the nurse responds and crosses her arms.
As I’m leaving, I hear a nurse say she’s going to call the respiratory therapist, but no one seems worried.
Back in the hospital room, I fall into a chair next to a napping Erin. I’m so relieved. Everything went fine. The peaceful feeling of finishing a hard day’s struggle pervades the room. I doze for a few minutes, but I wake when an attendant enters with Erin’s breakfast. She doesn’t have any food for me.
“Only the mother gets breakfast,” she says apologetically.
“That’s fine. I’ll go to the cafeteria.”
On my way to the cafeteria, I drop by the nursery to see Joshua. There’s a large observation window, and families are gathered around to look at their babies. I have to squeeze through the crowd to get to the window. Then I see something strange.
The babies’ beds are lined up in a row along the wall, but one is missing. I look up and down the row several times. I can’t find Joshua. He’s gone. Wires and cords dangle from the wall where his bed had been.
I stare at the empty space. My baby is not where I left him. He’s been taken somewhere, and it must have been in a hurry, because no one has had time to tell me what’s going on. Then I remember: He wasn’t breathing right. Something is wrong.
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