Last Sunday night, I spoke twice. First to a youth group about the importance of valuing yourself in this sex-crazed society, and second, to a church congregation about the importance of cherishing life. I emphasized how short our life was here on earth, and how if we wait to cherish our lives, our hearts, and our bodies, it might be too late. I emphasized that we must cherish our lives NOW…waiting might be too late. Ironic.
Just 24 hours later, I found myself lying in a bed in the emergency room.
Monday morning, I woke up with an absolutely fantastic plan. I had a creative vision that I was going to execute, and I did quite beautifully. So that rules out the questions raised about my stress levels. Stress didn’t even cross my mind that day.
Around noon on Monday, I started feeling strange. I use the word strange because strange is the only way I can describe it. You know when you’re getting sick. Your body signals it. Your temperature rises, your hands begin shaking, your throat dries up. All of the alarms in your body go off.
But this…this was different. This was a strange feeling…This was a dagger in my stomach swift and without warning. I continued working figuring it would go away. I ate lunch, sent my emails, talked to my best friend on the phone, continued editing…I mean life can’t stop over a stomach ache. As the saying goes, “The show must go on.”
However, by 3 o’ clock, my show couldn’t go on. I was in so much pain that sitting at my desk was no longer an option. I decided to lie down for twenty minutes just to see how that would go…the pain only intensified.
I hate admitting to pain. I hate it. I would rather suck it up and go on with life, so the fact that I was lying down and admitting to this pain solidified that it was serious pain.
Lying there, it grew painful to breathe. No matter what way I laid on the bed, the pain wouldn’t ease off. I tried my back, both my sides, but the sharp daggers continued stabbing relentlessly.
Finally, I called my mom and asked her when she would be home. This was admitting defeat. This was raising the white flag in surrender. I waited in agony for her return. No matter how old you are, there is something about having your mother around when you’re sick. Whether they do or not, in a child’s mind, a mother has all of the answers.
ALL of the answers.
Mom walked in, took one look at my discolored face and unfocused eyes and told me that I had no choice but to go to the doctor. I begged her through my tears to let me lay there for thirty more minutes. I silently hoped that in 30 more minutes it would go away. My mind raced with reasons why this pain could be happening. I thought about my activities over the last 24 hours. I thought about my food intake. I thought about everything…and nothing, nothing could have triggered it. I had done nothing out of the ordinary except for speak to a church group about cherishing your life. All I could think was, “Dear God, I do cherish my life! I do! Why am I having this cherishing my life intervention?”
My mom came back up with my doctor on the phone. I agonized as I listened to my mom and her go back and forth over what could be wrong and why I was in so much pain that I could barely walk, stand, or breathe. My doctor agreed with my mom that everything pointed to appendicitis. My doctor in all her wonderfulness told my mother to take me straight to the hospital where she would have two surgeons on standby. For that I love her.
On the way to the hospital, I called my best friend and admitted to her what was going on. She quickly gathered her posse and began lifting prayers to heaven.
I arrived and they began checking me and prepping me. I told the Dr. first things first: do whatever it takes to get rid of this pain because I couldn’t take it anymore. It had been six straight hours of constant stabbing in my stomach, and I was beginning to question my sanity. He gave me vicodin and a relaxant hoping to ease up whatever was going on inside of me. Kind man. They ordered a CT and blood work just to make sure that it was my appendix before they opened me. The results confused me as well as everyone else. They were clean. According to the CT, my insides couldn’t be healthier. According to the bloodwork, I was in perfect health. My regular doctor even pulled my charts which were only done two weeks earlier and said that everything was perfect. There was no remote reason why I should be having these stomach pains. Someone threw out the word gallbladder. My charts and the scan cleared that one. According to my doctor, my gallbladder numbers were higher than normal. Basically, there wasn’t a healthier gallbladder on the planet. My appendix was clean. My temperature had dropped down to 97F. Yes, that’s below the normal body temperature at 98.6F. My blood pressure was perfect. Every test they ran indicated that I couldn’t possibly be healthier. I received this news through squinting eyes. WHAT!? What!? I knew for a fact that I wasn’t ok. By now the pain killers had kicked in and a bit of delirium settled in. All I could think about was why I was lying in a hospital bed after having gone through countless procedures as I writhed in pain and there wasn’t an explanation. Worse, the doctors, didn’t have a clue what was wrong with me.
I kept asking God over and over again why this was happening. I didn’t get it. I mean I didn’t want my appendix taken out, but at the same time there would be relief in knowing why I was in so much pain instead of lying clueless in total agony.
Had God answered all of my friend’s prayers that quickly? I had asked her to pray that they wouldn’t have to operate, and the doctors just told me they saw no need because everything looked great.
Was this a practice what you preach moment? Was God challenging me to really focus on cherishing my life? Was God showing me to put my actions where my mouth was? Was this an attack in an attempt to discourage me after the success of the previous evening?
WHAT WAS IT!?
I don’t know…I still don’t know a week later. But I can tell you this:
The doctors discharged me, and except for weakness and nausea the next day, I am fine. So God DID answer mine and all my friend’s prayers. I did put into action what I had “preached” on the night before. As I laid there wondering what was happening to my body, I was actually content with the thought of “going.” I knew in my heart that I had done what I could in my short time on earth for God’s kingdom. I was content with the name I would leave behind. I was content with how I would be remembered. I was prepared to meet God if this situation called for it.
I was able to witness to my doctor. We had the chance to talk about “my religious convictions,” and so within minutes this doctor knew I was a Christian. If it was meant for discouragement…well, then I’m still writing. I’m writing now to share and to tell you that if you stand for Christ, you will be challenged, but with every challenge, we can and will get up stronger if we fight our battles with Christ by our side. Christ is for us. Not against us. Satan hates us. He wants us to fall. He wants us to question everything we do for God’s kingdom, but He has already lost the battle. God has already defeated him.
So don’t lose heart when struggles come your way because I guarantee you struggles will come your way. If you are a Christian and you are standing up for Christ, Satan hates you. He hates you. Don’t take that lightly. BUT even better Christ loves you, and is there for you. He is the One to fight your battles. He is there for you every step of the way. We will never understand why some things happen, but we know that all things do work together for the good of those who love Him.
Can you trust Him in every situation even when absolutely NONE of it makes sense?
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in HIM. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. – Jeremiah 17:7-8