Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Joy in Pain

I was having a bit of a meltdown this morning.  We left the doctor with the news we'd feared, surgery was most likely our best option for Tim's back.  And much to hubby's dismay, he is off work indefinitely.

Although I left Tim in positive spirits as I headed to work, tears quickly found their way down my face.  So many worries and thoughts went through my head.  ...How long would Tim endure this pain?  Will we survive this financially?  Can my stir crazy husband stand numerous months of little activity?  So many concerns.
Yet on the way to work, God was speaking to me through the radio.  With every step I took down into depression, he lifted me up two more.  Once I arrived, this message found me:

God is never going to put us into a situation
or permit us to be in one without giving us the ability to be in it with joy.

It seems like a lifetime that this all began, yet it was only a week ago.  To those of you who are somewhat lost right now, I'll begin at the beginning...
By last Tuesday, Tim had been ill for over a week.  At first we just thought it was a typical stomach bug.  After five days of not keeping any solid food down, we feared it was more.  A trip to the doctor and an antibiotic later, we were told it was an infection due to diverticulitis.  But over the weekend he grew worse and after several days, intense back pain had joined the the party.

One moment I was fussing at him for going into work, the next he was unconscious on the floor. 
My life stopped. 

Heart racing in my throat, I made the call to 9-1-1, part of me remembering the terrible night four years ago I'd last called them.  Prayers never ceasing, I went through the motions of making Tim comfortable as possible, dressing, unlocking and opening doors and waiting....waiting for the ambulance.

Hours in the ER and several tests later, we were informed he'd be admitted.  Other than our motorcycle wreck all those years ago, Tim had never spent the night in the hospital.  I fought the tears as they wheeled him through the halls and was yet again grateful for my husband's joking  and joyful spirit. 

At some point, I went home for a quick shower, supplies and to check on the doggies.  Thankfully my sister had come hours earlier to get the kids and occupy them.  Getting back to him in record time, I arrived to find his doctor sitting at the foot of the bed.  Though there had been thorough testing, we still had no real answers.  His pain was fairly managed and a scope scheduled for morning.

The clock was a constant reminder to me of that night's obligations...VBS.  Why did I sign every one of us to help this week?  One person missing could be worked around.  Not four.  And especially when we each had specific roles.  But could I leave Tim?  Satan was certainly taking advantage of our situation.

Part of me wanted to crawl up in bed with him.  Part of me wanted to take him home.  All of me just prayerfully wished he was better.  Knowing I had none of those options, and that two kiddos needed me at home each night, I opted to move forward with Bible school.  Kissing him good-bye was difficult, but it helped to have the kids there, keeping me strong. 

VBS was a blessing in so many ways.  Every group that came in, was filled with happy kids and worried faces of teachers, wanting an update on Tim.  Hugs and pats on the back got me through, including the children's faces of surprise as we acted out the resurrection of Lazarus.  As soon as VBS was over though, tears fell.  I was thankful for the dark sky and tired kiddos because we all headed straight to bed, even though my husband's side was empty.  It was a long night.

The rest of the week was much of the same.  Groundhogs Day.  Little sleep.  Long days.  Late nights.  Tears, prayers and laughter.  Juggling work, church and squeezing in as much time with Tim as possible.  Grateful for a caring boss and flexible schedule.  Blessed with a church family who cares and prays.  Thankful for docs who let me hover and ask questions.  Honored to be a part of Bible school and the many, many God-filled moments it brought.

In the end, I realized what a blessing it was that Tim was hospitalized the entire week of VBS.  Had he not been, I would have been even more torn, not wanting to leave him alone.  At least there I knew he was monitored and cared for.  And at church we were seeing tiny movements, inspirations and rooms full of love that only children can bring.  By Thursday night, each of our leaders had counseled with a child.  Our three influences brought two recommitments and a salvation.  That was worth every long and stressful moment of working Bible school!

Decide not to spend your life miserable. God is alive and has a plan for you!
 By the weekend, Tim was back home.  Although I was happy to have him here, it hurt me to watch him in pain and not be able to change it.  Even an hour at church deemed too much Sunday and he paid for it that afternoon.  He tried to go back to work yesterday but didn't last thirty minutes, even on light duty.  Today brought us back to the doctor's office with the news we dreaded to hear but expected.

I don't know what our future holds and sometimes the stress of this seems overwhelming, yet I'm reminded again and again of God's presence.  Throughout the day, messages, as if written just for what I'm going through, have fallen my way.
Don't be discouraged.  Sometimes God answers us, sometimes he doesn't.  But he always there.

No matter the heartache.  No matter the uncertainty.  No matter the trials.  Knowing that he's always there is what keeps me filled with joy, even on the hardest of days.


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