The blessing of a stormy sea

Hello blog friends! As most of you know, in the final days of January I had a medical issue come up that landed me in the hospital and subsequently dropped me into a (mostly) homebound recovery over the month of February and now into March. Without a doubt, this has been the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. It easily tops the charts of hard things I’ve gone through in life, eclipsing by a thousand percent anything else I’ve ever experienced. And yet, with God on my side, I found something magical in all of this mess. I found blessings upon blessings, a miraculous display of the power of Jesus, beautiful revelations of the character and experiences of Jesus, a life affirming full look at the depth and power and commitment of my support system, and so much more. It’s taken me a while to write about all of this, but I really want to share it and so here goes.

The name of Jesus

 I talked once on this blog about the disease I have in my legs that causes them (particularly the right one) to swell up massively. I’ve lived with this for around five years now, and I despise it. Well, in late January, I learned it can get even worse. I was experiencing excruciating pain in my right leg, so bad that I couldn’t sleep and I could barely move. I also had chills and fevers and was just a total mess. On February 1 I went to the emergency room and learned that I had developed an infection in one of the legs. I was admitted into the hospital so they could fight the infection. My four days in the hospital were the four hardest days of my life.

The thing about having a leg that’s about five times it’s intended size is that a lot of things become difficult. Getting in and out of bed was impossible on my own, and the constant help of nurses had shredded the back of my leg as they helped lift it, causing wounds and injuries. So I quickly opted to spend all of my time in a small chair in the corner of the room. Another thing about having a giant leg is that it’s extremely heavy, meaning it puts a great amount of pressure and weight on your foot. Very quickly I developed an awful pain in my foot as it sat upon the tile floor of my hospital room. This pain was so bad that I continued to be unable to sleep.

As my pain level steadily increased, so did the power of the pain medication they were giving me. Nothing worked, no matter how strong, and I continued to spend my days and nights in the hospital without rest, at times catching a few minutes of sleep when I’d pass out only to quickly wake up in pain. That’s when I learned something truly unpleasant. I hadn’t actually slept since January 29. So as February 3 comes along, I’ve gone around five days without real rest. This kind of exhaustion is dangerous on its own, and when you mix in varying amounts and strengths of pain medication things get pretty weird in your mind. Early on February 3, I had them discontinue my pain medication altogether, but I was pumped full of the stuff at that point. I held it together during the day, but as night fell and my amazing support team went home, I started to have serious mental issues. Every time I tried to pray my mind was assaulted with horrific images. I’d start a prayer and after a few words the whole thing would slip away. Even with my eyes open, I could see the words swirl away into a vortex. This would happen to anything I tried to focus on, it would start swirling and then it would disappear. I needed help from my savior, but at that moment I wasn’t sure how to get it. The heel of my right foot felt shattered, sleep was an impossible dream, and as I sat there in that chair late on the night of February 3 I finally started to despair. My condition wasn’t life threatening, I knew I wasn’t dying, but I was losing hope. I didn’t know how much longer I was going to be able to handle the hospital stay. My main nurse indicated that I had at least two more days in my stay, if not three. The thought of two more days felt like two more years.

It was then that I made a desperate cry. I couldn’t form complete thoughts, I couldn’t pray. But there was a name that I knew held power, and I cried out to that name twice. Jesus. Jesus. That was all I could manage. Just two times I cried out to Jesus. I felt out of it for a few minutes after that, but the next time I had it together I realized something. The pain in my heel was gone. And for the first time in five days, I fell asleep for a few hours. It was my first rest in a long time.

The next morning my doctor visited and indicated that she might release me that day. I was overjoyed at this possibility. When my nurse came in and I told her this, she scoffed. “There’s no way you’re leaving today.” Those were her words to me. The idea of being stuck there longer was unthinkable to me at that point. I had reached my limit of being able to handle it, and in my mind even one more day wasn’t an option. But God was with me, and about four hours later I was at home.

In my study of the Psalms of David, I’ve often commented on how he cried out to God. As a matter of fact, on September 17 of 2015 I wrote about this, sharing the following:

Psalm 5:1-2 Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. 2 Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.

I love the idea this presents. David is asking God to “consider my groaning” and to “give attention to the sound of my cry”. It’s not just his words that David wanted God to hear, he wanted even his groans and cries to register with the Lord. This sort of blows my mind. I love it when my idea of God grows larger, and this verse did that. I can seek the Lord with a groan, and He can decipher the meaning. If I’m so deeply troubled that all I can do is cry out to God, I can trust that God knows the meaning of that cry. Some translations of the bible change the word groaning to meditation, or inner thoughts, but I still find that fascinating and awesome. My God doesn’t just hear my words when I pray. He can dig within my inner thoughts, He can decipher my groans to Him.

Little did I know that five months later I was going to be putting this into action. I was in a position where my mind was a mess, and I was able only to get out one word. Jesus. And my God is so big, He is so good, that He knew exactly what I needed. He knew what I meant. He heard my cry, and delivered me from a pain so great that no medicine could alleviate it. Only the touch of a living God, only the power in the name above all names, the name of Jesus, was capable of pulling me out of my misery.

There is power in the name of Jesus. He’s not a dead and buried king, He’s a living and operating Lord, active in our world. I’m thankful for the chance I had to truly despair, because I got to see Him in action. I got to see Him bring to life the bible verse in Psalm 5:1-2 that I wrote about all those months ago. He showed me that these aren’t just great concepts, the Bible isn’t just a history book, but that the God of the Bible lives today just as He did in the days of David. That just as David could cry out to God and receive help, so can I, and so can you.

Jesus lives. Jesus hears the cries of the afflicted. Jesus saves. His power is so vast that even the utterance of His name can bring healing and rest. It’s something I always knew, and now it’s something that I’ve experienced first hand. I’m forever thankful for that.

My life has been so easy. Other than this disease, I’ve rarely struggled with anything. No traumatic events, no horrible injuries, no sudden deaths, no life changing struggles. I’ve lived an easy life, probably too easy of a life. The seas of my life have always been relatively calm. That’s good, and I’m thankful for that blessing. But honestly, I’m more thankful for my brush with stormy seas over the past few months. Because being out on stormy seas, being tossed about by the massive waves, feeling lost and helpless and afraid, losing sight of the shore, it allowed me to receive an incredible gift. It allowed me to see a figure out upon the water, coming towards me, walking on the water. It allowed me to see my God do for me what He did several times in the Bible, calm the raging seas. It put me in a position to receive a touch of miraculous healing, to see the Bible I love to study come alive in my own life. I thank God for my despair, and I thank Him for my time on the stormy sea.

There’s more to share about my struggles so far in 2016, but this felt like the most important part of it. In truth, this is one of two times when Jesus stepped in and delivered me from an affliction during this whole process. There’s also the blessings of my family and best friend, who have gone so far above and beyond in helping me through this process that I’m continually blown away by it. I’ll write more about all of this some time, but for now I wanted to share this story and then really get back to the Bible blog on a regular basis. I love each and every one of you, I can’t tell you how much all the prayers and support have meant to me during this hard time. God is so good, He has bestowed upon me a beautiful life that’s filled to overflowing with amazing people. I’m so excited just to be alive and to see what God has in store for me next!

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