As Thanksgiving nears, I am thankful for the prayers of God’s people. It was these prayers that carried my family through a recent trial of great magnitude. Some Baptist Messenger readers are aware that in July, my wife gave birth to our child.

What was unexpected about this birth and this baby—a girl we named Violet—is that she was born at 24 weeks gestational age, more than three months early due to pregnancy complications. Weighing a mere 14 ounces (yes, you read that right) at birth, the NICU doctors told us she had less than a 50 percent chance of making it out of the hospital alive.

Fast forward to today and—solely because of the sparing mercy of Jesus and the prayers of many—Violet is home and weighs more than five pounds. God is still in the business of answering prayers, I am here to testify!

Of course we do not know what the future holds for this child, but we rejoice in the fact that she made it through to this day and has caused many people to pray to the Lord. And I want to be more like the one of 10 men who Jesus healed that “gave glory to God” (Luke 17) and expressed thanks to Him. Thank You, Jesus, and thank you everyone who prayed!

Perhaps God also has done a wondrous work in your life. Or, perhaps He is helping you in spite of your problems, even ones that do not seem to be getting better.

We all know that not all stories have a happy beginning or happy ending on Earth. In fact, all people go through suffering at some point. Many God-fearing parents have lost children to miscarriage; countless godly people face cancer or disease; still other honest folks lose jobs or homes in disaster, while many brave soldiers have paid the ultimate price.

Suffering is all around us, but God is greater still. By God’s grace, each believer will experience eternal joy through the sacrifice, love and resurrection life in Christ. The flower of faith, however, takes time to grow and is watered by the prayers of God’s people. To that end, I want to offer these brief takeaways from our recent trial.

/// We only have today

Things can be great one day, and terrible the next. They can be terrible at one moment and great the next. In the seasons of life that King Solomon discussed in Eccl. 3, we understand there is a time for everything in life. We are not guaranteed one more day. What will we make of the days we are given?

/// Life is precious

In today’s culture war, life has become cheapened. Be that as it may, the evolutionary view of “only the strong survive” is conquered and turned upside down in Christianity. The Bible, contrary to the world, teaches us that every person is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), that life is precious and should be protected from womb to tomb, and that we are to protect the weakest among us (Psalm 41).

/// Only Jesus

With the birth of every child like Violet, we can and should think of Jesus’ birth, the “Word who became flesh” (John 1). The Lord could have chosen any way to save us, but He stepped into the world as a baby in a womb and was born, grew, lived, prayed, taught, healed, died and rose again. In these actions, Christ affirmed our humanity and redeemed it.

This holiday season, reflect on all God has done for you, for me and for us—and watch the flower of your faith grow.