The day began with a relevant symbol. As soon as I got out of bed Melanie discovered she would have to wash the sheets again.
One year ago today another unpleasant event surprised us. I could barely make it to the car so Melanie could take me to a doctor appointment. That visit stretched out all morning and nobody was smiling at the test results they took over and over. I ended up being taken by ambulance to the hospital. Shortly before midnight I had a stroke. Doctors told Melanie later they were rather surprised I lived. I was 64 years old and, as soon became apparent, I was instantly retired. God was changing things for us. I did not even get back home for six weeks.
Today as Melanie and I went through our devotional reading, we found this from John Piper:
I have never heard anyone say, “The really deep lessons of life have come through times of ease and comfort.” But I have heard strong saints say, “Every significant advance I have ever made in grasping the depths of God’s love and growing deep with him has come through suffering.”
We turned to Henry Blackaby and read:
Jesus has already set limits on the extent and duration of Satan’s freedom. Satan, “our ancient foe,” was decisively and completely defeated by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and in His resurrection. With regard to Satan, our assignment is to trust in the victory that Christ already achieved and daily resist him with the truth of his defeat, as Jesus did.
And last night Facebook dug up Melanie’s entry from one year ago and showed it to her:
Luke 22: 31 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” …Sifting comes to each of us who are serving the Lord. Is He going to find something of great value to the Kingdom when all the dirt is gone? Will we be better representatives of Christ, as those around us watch to see what comes of the ‘sifting’ in our life?
Then there was the question Melanie posed in her published devotional for the day:
Is God calling you to a new season? A season of creativity? Watch and see what He will do in your life, in a new season.
Maybe the two stages of Job’s story and suffering are not accidental. We had a second round of set-backs this past summer, too. One night Melanie found blood on my chair after pouring food into my stomach tube. There was another visit to the hospital where they decided I would need a colonoscopy. I was back a few days later to begin preparing for that. They took me to surgery twice and didn’t complete the procedure (the horror story – perfect for Halloween – is here).
When I finally did get a colonoscopy they discovered a small cancerous polyp. Surgery for a colon resection was followed by two more ambulance rides to the hospital to deal with fever caused by an infection and then a round of pneumonia. I had gotten strong enough to begin to actually swallow small amounts of food and even take Holy Communion last summer. The 28 days total spent in the hospital in September and October erased all that progress. I have begun again at square one. For me, it’s appropriate that we are setting our clocks back one hour tonight.
One thing that amazes me is how many times people have said to us that – somehow – we are encouraging them. I do not understand how God may be doing that. But we are happy for Him to be glorified at all times. I don’t have to understand it.
I am aware of a greater compassion and urge to pray for others who are suffering. Indeed, the ones who have returned to visit us the most are ALL carrying burdens that are heart-breaking to me. Thank you for their love and intercession, Lord. Hear our prayers, I ask, in Jesus’ Name.