Four-year-old Isa Renteria jumps into her Daddy’s arms, gives him a kiss and then hops down to run and play with her little brother, Dom. It doesn’t seem out of the ordinary to anyone looking on, but to Jason and Sarah Reterina, it is a God-given miracle.
Isa’s birth was normal. New parents Jason and Sarah took her home, but by the second day they realized something was wrong. She wasn’t eating. The third day they took her to the pediatrician while she was there she began seizing and had trouble breathing.
In God’s providence, the pediatrician’s office had just moved next door to a respiratory clinic, Jason Renteria, Christian Chapel’s worship director, told the congregation, Sunday, May 26, 2013. They were able to get respiratory equipment on her.
They rushed her to Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where they worked on stabilizing her. She would stop breathing, but not start again on her own. They had to monitor her and use the pump to help her. Her levels dropped. She was severely dehydrated. Things looked extremely bleak.
“I had been saved for a month,” Renteria said. “I grew up in a Christian home, but I had never not committed my life before. I still didn’t know a lot of scriptures. But I felt strongly I should pray and fast food and sleep until we knew Isa’s diagnosis.”
He explained he was not going on a hunger strike. “Fasting is not a hunger strike. A hunger strike is a method of non-violent resistance or pressure in which participants fast as an act of political protest, or to provoke feelings of guilt in others, usually with the objective to achieve a specific goal, such as a policy change. Most hunger strikers will take liquids, but not solid food.”
He made the decision to fast in order to hear more clearly from God. He quoted Oswald Chambers, who said, “The meaning of prayer is that we got hold of God, not the answers.” Renteria said he was desperate to hear from God.
In Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus explains how to fast. “We do not fasting to show others something or to make a public display,” Renteria said. “God knows what our weaknesses are. We fast to demonstrate our dependence on God. We give up something to become more dependent on God.”
He put his trust in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that says that God will not give us more than we are able to bear. In the words of John Hagee, “God will either give you what you ask for or He will give you the strength to deal with what He wants.”
During fasting, Satan will attack stronger than ever. However, like Jesus demonstrated in Matthew 4:2-3, we realize God is all we need. “When we fast, we become stronger spiritually.”
While he was fasting and praying, he would also read his Bible. One time his Bible fell open to Isaiah 41:10 which says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
He added that God just kept showing him scripture after scripture of promises for him and his family.
The day after Renteria began the fast, the doctors took Isa for an MRI. When they got to results, they told them some devastating news. “Isa had a stroke. The doctors did not expect her to make it out of the hospital.”
After the doctors left, Sarah went out to make phone calls to family. “I was in the room with just Isa and her isolette. I felt such a strong presence of God in the room. It was almost overwhelming. I felt His hand touch my left shoulder and I just fell to my knees.
“I felt Him say to me, ‘Look at that girl. She’s beautiful and she’s your baby. Don’t be dismayed. You will take her home.’ I know God was in that place. He put a shield around that room. I knew we would get through this. Wherever we are God is there. He is strong within us.”
When the hospital staff took an x-ray of Isa in order to place a central line, the found out her ventilator tube and moved out of her lungs and she had been breathing on her own.
“This was only by the grace and power of God,” Renteria said. “The doctors did not expect her to ever be able to breathe on her own. Further, they said she would be blind. She would not speak. We refused to believe that report. All through the time she was there we saw miracles.”
There is power in fasting and praying, he explained. In Mark 9:29, the disciples are trying to cast out a demon but could not. After Jesus cast out the demon, the Jesus asked them why they couldn’t cast it out. He said, “This kind can not come out except by prayer and fasting.”
After she came home, the doctors said she had tissue damage to the brain and they did not expect her to be able to see. “Today, Isa’s eyesight is fine and she can run and play like any other child,” Renteria said. “When we pray, God is already there. We can rely on Him. He has it under control. Ask for His will in every situation.”
Luke 11:1-4 What are the important things to learn from the Lord’s prayer?
1 Corinthians 10:13 When have you had a trial such as one described here? How did God help you though it?
Matthew 6:16-18 What are some guidelines Jesus gives for fasting. Why is this important?
Matthew 4:2-3 Why didn’t Jesus do what Satan told Him to do? After all, He was hungry and He had fasted for 40 days. Surely it was time for Him to eat.
Isaiah 41:10 How has this promise gotten you through difficult times?
Mark 9:29 What did Jesus mean by this scripture?