God’s Presence in the NICU

a couple of years ago

Having a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) was never in my plans or dreams. I needed the NICU to teach me truths about God’s presence.

God's presence in the NicuBecoming a mother to a child who needed to stay in the NICU drew out things in my heart that I didn’t know I needed to deal with. For the first time, I had huge fears, deep grief, and felt misunderstood. However, in the midst of that, God had lessons waiting for me on how to trust Him. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade my son’s time in the NICU for anything.

Lesson 1: I Am Blessed

When I was tempted to play the pity party game, I realized there is always someone out there who has it worse off than me. My son’s little roommate in the NICU had already been there for 6 months. Her parents had run out of maternity leave. They couldn’t make the drive up to the hospital to see her but every two weeks. She had more health issues that I could list. My baby “only” had one spot of what the doctors thought might be cancer. He quickly transitioned off his oxygen tubes and was breathing on his own in a week’s time. Otherwise, he was healthy. May God help me never forget the blessings I do have by looking only at what I don’t have.

“Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” Psalm 68:19

 Lesson 2: In God’s Presence, I Am Not Alone

It amazed me how many other people shared their NICU stories with me. Many of them I had no idea ever experienced a similar time because of the way they carried themselves with such grace. Satan’s lie to my heart was that no one truly understood what I was going through, that I was alone in this trial. There were many well-meaning but ignorant comments meant to encourage that were slightly painful. Satan wanted me to let the hurt fester and become angry at such “misinformed” bystanders. Instead, God intended that I be thankful for people in my life that care–whether they truly understood the situation or not. He wanted me to know what it’s like to have hundreds of people praying on my behalf so that I learn the power of intercessory prayer.

“…Be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

 Lesson 3: God Will Fight for Me

One night while I attempted to pump milk for my baby who was still in the NICU, I opened my Bible to Exodus 14. There in the dark stillness, God’s Word illumined my heart and met me right where I was hurting. I read the account of the Red Sea crossing from a new perspective. Verse 14, in particular, jumped off the page, “The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Had I never seen this before? God reminded me that in my limited ability as a human being, there was only so much I or the doctors could do for my son’s life. But in God’s mighty hands, there was peace beyond explanation. God’s presence is more than I could ever ask for. What greater advocate to have on your side that the Creator of life itself fighting for your life?

 Lesson 4: This Trial is My Light

Another lesson was in store for me that night in verse 20, “…it was a cloud and darkness to them [the Egyptian army], but it gave light by night to these [the people of God]...” God again spoke softly to my heart. This trial was not meant to darken my path in the same way the world experiences trials without God. God’s presence in the trial can transform it into something beautiful and comforting. He could make the darkest nights feel bright like the sun in my soul because He was there with me. We were to share this light as a testimony for all including his doctors and NICU nurses, who could only chalk things up to science rather than God.

Lesson 5: God Knows Heartbreak Too

Later that week, I had another meltdown moment again while trying to pump. I was frustrated and on the verge of blowing up at God. My heart had never felt such deep breaking. I looked at pictures on my phone of my little one with so many cords and tubes. Why was my son stuck in the NICU? It wasn’t fair other babies came home from the hospital while my son was apart from me.

God’s presence in my difficult moment was timely. He reminded me His only Son had to be separated from Him too. He didn’t leave His Son in the NICU, He sent His Son to die…for selfish, frustrated people like me. When I thought no one knew this kind of heartbreak. God knew my exact pain of being parted from a child. Jesus left heaven, and God turned away His face at Calvary. As a human parent, I could never experience that level of pain. God chose to go there, to put Himself through that in order to relate to me in my grief.

“For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities: but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16


*Update since the NICU:

God in the NICU

My son was released to go home one week later. The doctors agreed that his condition, still unknown, would be monitored as he grew. One month later at a checkup, the radiologist looked at me and said, “I don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s nothing here.” The so-called cancerous spot had disappeared and he is happy and healthy today. For that, we praise the Lord who alone can heal. The value of God’s presence in difficult circumstances is the one constant in my life.

Submitted by: H.S.


Editor’s Note: 

This testimony is one in a series of stories given to us by women who have seen how God heals. The hurts here are real, and as much as possible, we have tried to leave the articles as they were written. Sometimes it is hard to put into words the deep emotions that go along with both the hurt and the restoration.

It is our greatest hope that you will find encouragement from these stories; knowing that God can see you through your troubles. Be strong in faith and let us know if we can pray for you. You can leave a comment below or send us a private email.

Series Introduction: Biblical View of Grief

Testimony: God Heals the Pain of Divorce

Testimony: Chronic Illness – I Praise the Lord

Hannah Schmutzler

About the Author

Hannah Schmutzler

Hannah and her husband Cameron are currently on deputation, raising support so they can begin full-time missionary work in Mongolia. She juggles the demands of traveling with those of a toddler and keeps a sweet spirit through it all. Hannah has authored two books in addition to her writing for the Submissive Spirit. She also blesses us with her beautiful voice.

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