It has been over six weeks since I knew I was closer to death than I had ever been before, and yet . . . I had never felt more alive. After being hospitalized with a badly infected perforated ulcer and then having problems with my heart, I was finally released from the hospital and wrote the following to a friend:
Thank you for your prayers! They carried me through many a cliff-hanger as doctors and nurses did everything they could to save my life.. Once the surgery was done, that took the back burner as two nurses worked through two nights to restore the natural rhythm of my heart. It was tough in many, many ways. But God blessed me with His presence and peace, which many non-believers who watched the drama unfold could not deny. It took 3 days and switching around countless medications to finally get the rhythm of my heart restored.”
“Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
You display Your power among the peoples.
With Your mighty arm You redeemed Your people . . . .”
I never realized how awkward it is to write about something that you know happened, but there is no other explanation for it except to say, it was a miracle.
Miracle defined: an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.*
As I write about some of the “extraordinary events” that happened after being unexpectedly hospitalized, I do so in the hope of enlarging the vision of those of you who are facing challenges you would never have chosen for yourselves. I invite all to draw your own conclusion as to whether it was God “intervening in human affairs” or if it was something else. (I would love to hear your thoughts.)
In the first of this three post series** I wrote about“sheltering in place” for months because of COVID-19, and how the thought of going to the hospital and picking up the virus terrified me. Then the night came when, finding myself in unbearable abdominal pain, I had no other choice than to face my greatest fear. As the ambulance siren wailed I found myself praying this simple prayer:
Thank you God that You love me and that I am not alone,
Thank You that You have a plan and purpose for my life..
Help me Lord to see those You put on my path with Your eyes
as I trust You no matter what!
Such was the beginning of an adventure that would transform my faith in remarkable ways. It was that first night and into the next day that I came to understand this simple truth:
God often uses the very things we are most afraid of
to draw us closer to Himself.
In my second post I wrote how God has faithfully worked in the lives of people since the beginning of time. I pointed to the prophet Elijah, who ran away when Jezebel threatened to kill him. The passage talks about how God ministered to Elijah and how eventually Elijah “pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave” when he heard God speak in “a gentle whisper.” (1 Kings 19:11-13) In that post I wrote about learning to listen for His gentle whisper when fearful, discouraged or feeling utterly alone. The night I was wheeled through the Emergency Room doors I heard that gentle whisper in my mind asking, “Kathie, will you trust Me in this?”
Looking back all these weeks later, I can now see that when I responded to God’s question (at first tentatively and then fully) with, “Yes Lord, I will trust in You!” –it was then that the Holy Spirit stepped in. During the entire time He helped me take my eyes off myself/my fears and to choose to trust in God’s sovereign goodness.
Only now, as I reflect back on the night of my surgery, can I better appreciate what happened. Scheduled for exploratory surgery at five that evening I was remarkably at ease. In fact, as I was wheeled into the surgical room I suddenly remembered having seen the same setting of lights, people and a surgical table waiting when I had my tonsils removed when I was about six years old. For me, it was a pleasant memory as I remembered seeing stars after they put the mask over my face. That is my last memory until I was taken back to my room three hours later. I was told the surgery was a success, but I paid little attention to it as I watched two nurses diligently work through the night trying to get my heart rate under control. As they worked together the lights were low, and it felt like being in a cathedral. Surrounded by a scattering of vaulted light and soft, shimmering colors, the nurses ran lines of various combinations of medications to finally stabilize me. I watched and prayed but experienced no fear and no pain. Finally the male nurse (Shawn) spoke to me: “Mrs. Siler, your hair is shining!” Moments later he exclaimed, “Mrs. Siler, your skin is beautiful!” and then asked, “Mrs Siler, what are you doing?” All I could think to say was, “I’m cheering you on!”
It wasn’t until weeks later that I thought about Shawn’s question: What WAS I doing?!! I thought about how they couldn’t understand how I was able to stay with them as I teetered on the edge of life and death!
- Humanly speaking I should have been exhausted. I’d had major surgery to address a life threatening issue just hours before. (Imagine my surprise when, days later, I saw the seven inch incision down my middle being held together by fourteen staples!).
- Yet I was clear-headed, not a bit fearful and felt no pain. (My only concern for the nurses.)
- In fact, I felt exhilarated to the point where I cannot remember ever feeling more alive!
The only reasonable answer was the working of the Holy Spirit in me. It was indeed, “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs” .
So what can we learn from this?
- God often uses the very things we are most afraid of to draw us closer to Himself.
- To enjoy our God-given life to the fullest requires that we be fully invested in Him–not our fears or the things of this world.
But how can we avoid giving way to our fears/emotions and the stress that is so much a part of this world? The Apostle Paul put it well: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) To fight the onslaught of emotions that can so easily overtake us, I have found it most helpful to simply bring Christ into the center of my thinking:
Thank you, God, for loving me and
for sending your Son to save me for Yourself.
Thank You that You have a plan and purpose for my life.
Help me Lord to live for, love and serve You with a glad heart.
The words of Jesus that flew like a banner in my mind when I first entered the hospital, continue to be true for all who choose to trust in Him:
“I have come that they (YOU!) may have life,
and have it to the full.”
All to His Glory!