Judy sat by her daughter Faith’s hospital bed. Hooked up by tubes and wires to machines in the children’s intensive care ward, her newborn looked small and frail.
Seeing her daughter’s suffering, Judy felt weak and helpless. All she had left was her faith in God and hope that He would see her through.
Faith was a sickly child. Just three days after entering the world in 2008, she needed intensive care.
Born with a missing pulmonary artery (one of the main blood vessels linking the heart to the lungs), Faith was diagnosed with pulmonary atresia, a rare condition that leads to what is called a “blue baby”.
Without this artery, Faith’s lungs were unable to receive oxygen, and she could not breathe unaided.
It was devastating news for Judy, who was alone when she received Faith’s diagnosis only days after giving birth to her; her husband had been called up for a reservist meeting that day.
Faith was quickly transferred to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Her ductus arteriosus, a blood vessel that provides oxygen in the womb and closes after birth, was kept open with medication.
The next two weeks passed like a whirlwind. Faith was temporarily discharged and went home with Judy. But both mother and daughter had no sleep—Judy from exhaustion having to carry Faith all the time, and Faith for lack of oxygen.
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Then, Faith was hospitalised again, this time for 2½ months, for surgery to have a shunt inserted. Her oxygen levels were low, but she couldn’t be operated on as she was too young.
“It was really very difficult,” Judy recounts. “It was so difficult that often in my dreams, I would always hope it was just a nightmare, only to wake up to the heartbreaking reality that it was not a nightmare.”
For a whole year, Judy would cry every day.
She was unable to accept the reality of Faith’s condition. She spent her days looking at the sky, praying and pouring out her sorrows to God, her only Comforter.
A Timely Word
During that harrowing time, God showed that He would provide for Judy.
Friends from her cell group kept the family in prayer. Passages from Scripture, as well as Our Daily Bread devotionals, gave her strength to keep going.
Judy also remembered how she had already seen God’s hand in Faith’s life. Her baby girl had to be delivered via Caesarean section, which meant that she had to be kept under observation for a longer time—which allowed her condition to be discovered.
Eventually, Faith was able to undergo surgery at five months of age, and a plastic shunt was inserted to correct her heart defect.
Meanwhile, Judy continued to struggle with worry and feelings of fear. One day, however, she received unexpected comfort from her elder daughter Joy, then a toddler. Out of the blue, Joy told her: “Jesus loves you.”
It was an encouraging and timely word for Judy.
A New Challenge
In September 2011, Faith was wheeled into the operating theatre. Even though she was only three years old, she had already undergone surgery three times.
This fourth operation, however, turned out to be extra challenging for Judy. Halfway through, complications arose unexpectedly, and doctors had to pause the surgery.
“She was bleeding very badly during the operation,” Judy explains. The extended duration of the surgery led to multiple organ failure, and Faith had to be resuscitated twice.
Worse, the doctors’ daily updates were not encouraging.
The nurses noticed her composure and commented that she was unlike many other patients they had met. Judy explained to them that it was because she had hope in the Lord.
But Judy simply refused to give up hope in her daughter’s life: “I would reject everything the doctors told me in my heart,” she says. She turned to God in prayer, and her church and cell group were also mobilised to pray for Faith’s recovery.
As Judy kept vigil in the children’s ICU, she witnessed the ward empty one bed at a time, as some young patients succumbed to their ailments.
This naturally made Judy fearful. Nevertheless, she felt a calmness fill her, along with a quiet confidence that Faith would make it through. “I didn’t fall into despair or hopelessness,” she recalls.
Even the nurses noticed her composure and commented that she was unlike many other patients they had met. Judy explained to them that it was because she had hope in the Lord.
Judy also chose to take refuge in the Bible verse on a plaque that she tied to Faith’s hospital bed as a constant reminder of God’s presence when she was fearful.
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed;
for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea . . .
I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
— Isaiah 41:10 KJV
On one occasion, Judy had a strange experience while sitting at Faith’s bedside. In what seemed to her like a flashback, she visualised herself holding Faith’s hand and walking her to school.
Judy cannot fully explain what she experienced then, but she became convinced, deep within, that all would be well.
And it was. Some 2½ months into her hospitalisation, an unexpected turn of events took place. This time, it was a positive development.
Despite her medical problems, her physical growth was deemed to be on par with healthy children.
Faith suddenly gained the ability to urinate normally—something she was unable to do due to a complication from the operation, which she had needed dialysis for.
Faith’s condition rapidly improved after this, and she was discharged the same week.
As the years went by, Faith’s body adapted well to the implanted artery. And despite her medical problems, her physical growth was deemed to be on par with healthy children.
All this, Judy believes, was due to God’s intervention and His power to sustain. “It is a work of God,” she testifies.
More Worries Ahead
Still, there were other things for Judy to fret about. One was Faith’s mental and social development.
Faith had suffered multiple instances of cardiac arrest during her fourth surgery, which had reduced oxygen flow to her brain in her early years. As a result, some of her cognitive functions had been negatively affected.
Faith had trouble understanding implied meanings, and would experience emotional meltdowns from the slightest change in routine.
“She had no attention span,” Judy recounts. “She was very rigid in her eating habits and would only eat foods of certain textures.”
Her daughter, who has since grown up to become a joyful, carefree 14-year-old, is rarely troubled by circumstances and takes things in her stride.
In addition, because Judy had to keep Faith at home most of the time to protect her from infectious diseases, her exposure to social situations was limited.
KK Hospital assessed Faith’s IQ as slightly below average. She was also diagnosed with mild autism, and sent for speech therapy and also to an eating clinic.
These measures seemed to help. Faith made mental and social progress, and a later visit to a specialist even threw into doubt the initial diagnosis of autism.
Judy happily reports that her daughter, who has since grown up to become a joyful, carefree 14-year-old, is rarely troubled by circumstances and takes things in her stride.
“She’s a social butterfly,” Judy says. “And now she enjoys trying all kinds of new food!”
God Continues to Provide
Like many other parents, Judy has tried to introduce Faith to the Bible in different ways.
One resource that has helped is Give Us This Day, which Faith reads with her dad before bedtime. This was how Judy discovered Faith’s knack for memorising Scripture.
“She has a fantastic memory,” Judy says. “She can quote verses that she finds in the children’s devotional.”
So, Judy encourages Faith to persist in committing Scripture to memory. “She can be our walking Bible,” she quips.
It was also through Give Us This Day that Our Daily Bread Ministries came to hear Faith’s story. She had written to the publisher to ask for prayer concerning yet another operation she had to undergo.
This operation—her fifth—was needed as her heart functions had begun to deteriorate. The teenager was growing out of the graft, which she had received as a toddler for her missing artery. Open-heart surgery had to be carried out again to replace it.
This new development taxed Judy’s wits. “It can feel like a timebomb is about to go off,” she says.
But once again, God showed that He was looking after Faith. The operation in early 2022 was successful—Faith recovered quickly and was discharged in less than a week, just in time for Chinese New Year celebrations, as Judy had hoped.
“I Will Strengthen and Help You”
Judy’s journey with Faith has taught her much about what it means to trust in the Lord.
She continues to be quietly confident of God’s goodness, despite all she and Faith have experienced. She exudes gratitude, not resentment, as she recounts her struggles.
Judy is thankful, for instance, about how Faith seemed to have passed through her ordeal not remembering a thing about it.
“She did not experience any anxiety even at 3½ years old,” she recalls, “because she woke up [from being unconscious] with a smile. Maybe God shielded her from the pain.”
She exudes gratitude, not resentment, as she recounts her struggles.
Gratitude has also helped Judy through her manifold struggles through the years. Her father passed away in 2011 and her brother in 2016. Her mother, who was diagnosed with dementia not long after, also passed away in 2019.
Yet, Judy remains grateful that her parents and brother had received salvation. It showed her how God saw her through all the ups and downs in her life.
And it was God who enabled Judy to cling to His promise in Isaiah 41:10 to strengthen, help, and uphold her, and to continue praying for Faith’s complete healing.
For now, she simply reminds her daughter to be grateful, too.
“God was with you,” she tells Faith. “That’s why you must always pray; every day, you should give thanks.”