I’m happy to leave 2015 behind. After almost paralyzing grief at my mother’s death in 2014, I expected 2015 to be a great year, time to downsize and simplify, organize my home, finish editing my books and get them published, and spend more time with family and friends. Instead, I spent the first half of the year semi-invalid, one infection after another leading to a week on IV antibiotics. In February I was advised to begin a strict, no sugars/grains, anti-mold diet. When I thought I’d whipped it all, ready to charge into a wonderful Advent and Christmas, I broke my hip. Life came to a roaring stop.
From appearances, God had deserted me, or didn’t care, and chose not to be involved in my life.
Nevertheless, throughout the year I’d felt God’s nearness at my bedside. My trust had deepened, to simply let Him be God, accept my life from His hand, no matter the circumstances.
As I lay on the floor waiting for the ambulance, I cried to Jesus. Not many words. Too much pain. Simply gasps and, “Jesus. Help. Jesus.”
When the EMTs prepared to scoop me up, anticipating a painful journey to the hospital, I closed my eyes and whispered, “Jesus, hold me.”
Oh, love me—and right now!—hold me tight!
just the way you promised.
Now comfort me so I can live, really live;
your revelation is the tune I dance to. Psalm 119: 73-75 MSG
Jesus held me as I was lifted off the floor onto the gurney, bumped out the door and across our lumpy lawn. In the sways of twists and turns on the road, and thumps of railroad tracks, I felt cocooned in love.
My oldest daughter rode with us, and in chatting with Ken, the EMT, found he’d done mission work in Honduras, where we’d served as missionaries for eight years. It was a sweet connection.
In the most painful ordeal of my life, tiny details began to spell out the difference between absolute horror and God’s providence.
The EMT gave me personal care all the way into the room in the ER, and didn’t leave until he was certain I was being attended to.
My orthopedist took charge of my care to be sure I got into surgery that day, no matter how full the hospital said the OR was. (He slept in the doctor’s lounge until the OR opened at 10:00 pm)
My daughter and her family had just moved close by from the northeast and was able to support me on a daily basis.
Throughout my two weeks there, individuals appeared at precisely the moment I needed help, or encouragement, or care.
And biggest of all, my family supported and loved me in amazing ways.
My list is long.
I am very grateful.
That is not to say it was a grand time. It was the worst, body jarring, deep and ongoing pain I have every experienced.
And the most humiliating and completely dependent time.
In spite of excellent individuals, especially in PT and OT, the facilities and atmosphere with staff in the hospital rehab generally left a huge amount to be desired. I haven’t lived a cloistered life, but I was often jarred by the lack of hope, light or love around me.
Given my own physical helplessness and emotional vulnerability, I could have been completely over-whelmed. Engulfed. Depressed.
However, when I’d cried out to Jesus on my floor, waiting for the EMTs, I knew I had a choice. I could cry and rage, alone. Or, I could trust Jesus.
It remained a constant decision, day and night.
I looked for Jesus in the persons he sent at crucial times.
And I chose to reflect his face in the dark places with so many desperate people around me.
It amazes me now how that simple choice changed everything. In spite of the pain and nausea, I was able to bless roommates, attendants, nurses, even the sweet lady who cleaned our room and was desperate for hope. It became my daily challenge to brighten the lives of those around me.
The pain has diminished, but is a constant, and never gives me more than a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. Therapy goes on. I’ve graduated from a walker to a cane. I look forward to being able to drive a car again, to go to the grocery store all by myself.
I still struggle to find words, largely thanks to the effects of anesthesia. (I’m a slow metabolizer anyway, and the older we get, the longer the effects last. And, of course, aerobic exercise is a little hard to come by to clear the brain.)
Sitting remains painful. I will only be at my desk a short while, a large reason for not writing sooner.
Throughout this ordeal, I have found great comfort in the words of Jesus.
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Matt 6:33 MSG
During those prior months at home, I’d had time to be still. To really trust when there was little I could do. That had prepared me to relax into the love of Jesus when nothing else stood between me and incomprehensible agony of body and spirit.
During many long nights, snatches of Bible verses floated on my mind, along with hymns and songs based on scripture, easing my pain and settling my soul.
All that I could do was affirm my love and trust in God. He cared for everything else.
Certainly, not fun.
But there is joy in the morning. Always joy.
And there is abundant joy to share.
Has God made a difference in your challenges?