“He shall cover you with His feathers; and under His wings you shall take refuge.” Psalm 91:4

Late in November, my husband had an ischemic stroke. He spent a day in the hospital and we were rejoicing because he had no restrictions and no deficits. It was if it had never happened. The doctor was positive and gave him medication to mitigate any possible further strokes. Great…no problem…or so we thought.

Ten days later, the nightmare began. At 3:00 A.M., he had a hemorrhagic stroke caused by the medicine. He collapsed on the floor of the bathroom and could barely speak. He could not move and I ran to dial 911. I also called my son at that time. The moments crawled by as we waited for help. I brought him a pillow and held his hand. Finally, the paramedics came and took him to the hospital. My son had arrived by then and we followed behind.

He went to the first hospital and they took a CT Scan and we were told they did not treat this kind of stroke and we would need to go to the larger hospital downtown. My son brought me home to pack and we went there. In the meantime, I asked him to call my daughter-in-law ask her to put us on the prayer chain at church. Believe me, I was barely holding it together.

My son and I entered my husband’s room as nurses were putting in the IVs. The neurologist arrived soon after and told us that because my husband had two different types of strokes, it would be dicey treating him. Both strokes required different blood pressure levels and we were in SICU so that he could get the required medicine and be watched carefully. The neurologist took an MRI and told us that we would have to wait until the next day to see if the bleeding in his brain would stop. As he examined my husband, we saw that he could barely talk and he had no feeling on his right side. He could not hold his arm up or his leg for any length of time. It did not seem like the prognosis was great.

However, day by day, we saw improvement. The first day we got the good news that the bleeding had stopped in his brain. We saw from the monitors that they were able to keep his blood pressure in the target range to treat both strokes. After three days without food, a therapist came in to give him a swallow test. He was able to begin to eat food. After six days, he could stand by his bed holding onto a walker. They then transferred him out of SICU to a regular room.

Three days later, he was discharged to a therapy hospital. During that time, he received three hours of therapy; speech, occupational and physical. By the time he left there, he could walk with a walker, and they helped him with simple skills like bathing and dressing himself. Every day, he made a little more progress. Twelve days later, he was released to go home. We stayed at our son and daughter-in-law’s for a week then we returned to our own home. He continues with therapy two times a week and has gone from using a walker to being able to walk on his own. Every week we see improvement in his condition. Much of the feeling has returned to his right side.

As difficult as this journey has been, I would not have come through this without the kindness of our son and daughter-in-law, our friends, and the countless prayers of people, many of whom we did not know. There were so many nights when I could not pray. I just stared at the ceiling and felt my own emotional pain. And yet, the Lord sustained me (and my husband) each and every day. He met need after need with His grace as I felt His love and comfort. There is no One like Him and I know I could not have survived this without His sustaining power.

The Eyes of Christ

homeless-845752_640Several years ago, I was standing at the pharmacy counter waiting for my son’s prescription. For two years, he had been suffering from a migraine pain syndrome set off by a fall on a gym floor. We had been to doctors, neurologists, and a vascular specialist who told us our son had the worst kind of migraines. Nothing we tried seemed to give him relief for any period of time. So there I was, buying yet another prescription that may or may not help. I was feeling sorry for myself because I was putting out more money that was probably being spent in vain that could have been used for something else. As I was spiraling down in the quietness of my own thoughts, I just happened to look out the window. 

There in front of me was a middle-aged man walking by. He was obviously going to the railroad tracks behind the pharmacy hoping to catch a train. He was carrying a backpack as he moved along. Then…he looked up and I saw him…really saw him. He had the saddest eyes I had ever seen. They were filled with pain and suffering and bore deep into my soul. At that moment, I knew I was looking into the eyes of Christ. There, in that man was true suffering. I was immediately taken aback and felt ashamed. I, who had so much, was feeling sorry for myself and just outside the window was a man who had nothing but the clothes on his back. I will never forget his face or those eyes that bored into my soul. To this day, I will never know if that was an actual man or a manifestation of the Lord on earth.

I do know that in his eyes, I had seen the Lord. He was not walking the hallowed halls of government power or sitting in a plush corporate boardroom. He was there with the lowly, the suffering, and the homeless. I know now that if I want to be where the heart of God is, that I must go where the broken-hearted are. That’s where He will be, ministering his love and grace to those who have no hope and need His help. 

“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” Psalm 34:18