A whole lot has happened medically and personally since the second surgery on May 13 to remove the piece of skull that got infected as a result of the first surgery. It has seemed at times that one complication has led to another in a snowball effect toward my deteriorating health.
We are humbled and thankful for the way that many of you have faithfully walked alongside us through your prayers and support. In light of how you have shared this journey so closely with us, I want to share a pretty transparent window into how this has impacted us personally and emotionally.
Monday night, June 13, was definitely the most difficult point in this journey so far. The doctors had given me another dose of the antibiotic that was causing several of my body systems to react violently. I was running high fevers that medicine was not able to break through. My skin was bright red, burning, swollen, and itching uncontrollably. My lymph nodes were reacting and several parts of my body were swollen almost unrecognizably. My liver was also reacting and the doctors were concerned that the reaction might spread to the lungs or heart. A family friend, who has prayed for me since I was a small boy, sent me these verses in Psalm 69:
1 Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.
3 I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.
6 Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.
I could definitely identify with the writer’s distress in calling out to God to rescue him and I was feeling overwhelmed by the tide of medical complications that were bombarding me. I had come to the end of my physical and emotional strength. That night Karla and I prayed that God would intervene. In the middle of the night and early the next morning, God began to act through doctors, medicine, and His sovereign hand to rescue me from this desperate situation. The next morning I awoke and it was immediately evident that I had turned a corner. Although the road to recovery continues to be a long one, there was a moment when it was clear that recovery from the allergic reaction had begun.
Throughout that next day, Karla and I continually reflected on God’s goodness. After a day of seeing improvements, we were incredibly thankful for God’s act of kindness in rescuing me from this difficult situation. God’s act was based nothing on what I had done, but solely on His grace and mercy. As I continued to reflect on this journey I was reminded of scriptures about God’s presence with his people through all of life’s circumstances. That evening we began to confess to one another, and to God, that our natural state is to respond to pain/difficulty/suffering/hardship in fear and worry. We know that God is in complete control of everything in our lives, yet little by little, we begin to doubt and believe that we must try to be in control of everything. Did the doctors do this or that? What will happen to the kids if…? How can I make it through…? The list can go on and on. We quickly turn to fear instead of resting completely in God’s control and God’s presence. Only God can release us from fear to faith. We asked forgiveness for the ways in which we had not trusted in His complete goodness and control of our lives. We asked forgiveness for the ways we had allowed ourselves to respond in fear instead of faith. God, again, released us to freely trust in Him and know the peace found in His presence.
This is the essence of the good news found in Jesus Christ. We must continually be reminded of this Good News, throughout all of life’s circumstances. We were utterly lost in our sin, blinded and given over to fear, unable to rescue ourselves. But God, rich in mercy, reached down and demonstrated His love for us by making the just payment for our sins through the sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ. He conquered sin and death and thereby made a way for man to be restored to right relationship with His creator. The urgency for each of us is to turn away from fear and from our own attempts to control life and instead turn to Him in faith, trusting solely in His righteousness. When we turn to Him in faith, this becomes the turning point in our lives that brings us out of death into His glorious light. But the road to recovery from sin and fear is a long one in which we must continually turn to him and trust him in all of life’s circumstances. By God’s grace, He continually rescues us from ourselves and walks with us enabling us to trust Him no matter what we might face. This reminded me of Psalm 40:
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
We are incredibly thankful for a God who hears our cries. We have been eternally rescued from the pit of sin and placed upon the rock of salvation through Jesus Christ. God continues to rescue us from our pain/difficulty/suffering with His power and presence. He turns our fears into faith. May we sing praises to the King forever!