Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
When someone says the word “trial,” what image comes to mind? How about the word “sorrow” or “grief” or “tears”? I, for one, conjure up in my mind a battle. A fierce fight with men falling to the right and left of me. Or I picture a cruelty of life, some injustice that bursts open someone’s bubble of a “good life.” When I think of hurt, of pain, I think of the effects of sin in this world, and I think of how great it would be if God would just step in and put a stop to it. To stop using pain, and instead use laughter, use joy, use hugs, to accomplish His purposes.
Shad and I have spent this week sitting in a hospital room in Colombia, Missouri. He sits beside me, wires glued to his head, a computer monitor a few doors down recording his every move and brain wave. And we wait. The purpose of this test is to observe Shad’s seizures (big and small) and learn more about where they come from and why they have taken over so much of his life. Unfortunately, in the spirit of getting good data, this means trying to bring on seizures, big and small. Our week begins with the tampering off of medication. By the end of the first 36 hours, after experiencing several “smaller” seizures, Shad experiences a grand mal seizure. It starts slow, then picks up momentum, leaving me shaking and crying in a corner of his hospital room. I’ve seen it before (five times in our marriage, to be exact), but it’s hard to watch every time. This is the first time I’ve had doctors and nurses around to help, and I watch as they try to call him out of it, give him oxygen, and wait for him to respond. In the end, they give him a shot in his IV to help stop the electric pulses that run amok in his brain. He sleeps for awhile, and I cry. I hate this. Here is the man of my dreams, my leader, the father of my children, my best friend, my soul mate. And he is hurting. His brain is betraying him, and I don’t like it one bit. Logic tells me this is part of the plan for helping him get better, but I like my plan better. Miraculous healing. Bring it, Lord. I cry, and I hold my breath as I wait helpless for it to happen again.
Morning comes and Shad is miserable. He is nauseous and has a headache, and he doesn’t even want coffee– my poor man 🙁 It was a long, hard day for both of us, and before lunch, his brain sets in motion another grand mal seizure. Thankfully, these seizures gave the doctors much data to analyze, and even in the frustration, we are thankful. We praise God for meeting us in this crazy week, and we were never so relieved as when the doctor told us this morning that we may be able to go home tomorrow! Shad is starting to stabilize as his medications are returned to normal dosage, and now we just wait to see if he will be strong and stable enough to go home tomorrow.
All that to say, my heart is torn. I don’t always welcome suffering, in any shape or form. My heart fights against grief, and I have developed a battle plan that goes something like this: Step 1: Acknowledge a given situation as painful. Watching my husband go stir crazy in a hospital bed for a week, all the while watching him suffer seizures, headaches, nausea, and boredom. Step 2: Feel guilty for acknowledging said situation as painful. Well, we’re down the hall from the cancer ward. What am I complaining about? At least Shad doesn’t have a terminal illness! Step 3: Let guilt and grief fight it out for awhile, all the while trying to deny both while I pretend everything is OK and that I am strong enough to handle this. I shouldn’t feel so sad… get over it, Sarah! But this is really hard… oh, really? What about _____? They’ve walked through way worse than this! OK, guess I’ll just have to push forward and pretend like none of this bothers me… Step 4: Melt down. I hate this. Make it go away, God!! Grrrr… (wanting to slam the hospital room door but resist for fear of dirty looks from nurses).
And so it goes. I am awful human. Awful full of myself and burdened down by the lies I tell myself. In my plan, I so often ignore that my God is good. That He is with me. And that’s where Matthew 5 came in for me this week. I was reading a great book about trials and the author pointed out that the word “comforted” in verse 4 comes from the Greek word parakaleō meaning “to call near, to invite.” In this week, God has reminded me that His purpose in my mourning, in my struggle, in my tears, is to draw me near. To invite me into His arms, to curl up in his lap and cry out to Him. He longs to ease my burden, to hear my cry. It’s sad how I often picture Him looking down on me, curling a disapproving eyebrow at my foolish, petty issues. This is far from the truth! My God not only cares about the battles I face, He fights for me! All the while, He sees the tears, He feels my pain, He grieves when my heart hurts.
And these hard places are not all for nothing! He is waiting to give me– to give us –victory in Him! To teach us more about His Daddy heart for us. To show us that in life’s dark times, we are reminded of how much we need Him. To teach us to trust that He is in control of all that touches our lives. To learn to run to Him before I run to any plan of my own. And oh, how He longs to use our trials as an opportunity to draw us close, to hold us near, and to comfort us with love that only He can give!!
Thank you so much for your prayers for us as we adjust to this new season and keep learning all that God has for us in it! We appreciate your love, your notes of encouragement, and your continued support in these days!! And may you sense Him drawing you near in the hard places you find yourself in today…
P.S. Many of you have been tracking with us on Facebook, and we so appreciate your words of encouragement there!! Many have also asked what the results of these tests have been, and honestly, we don’t know a whole lot yet. Think of it as taking your SAT’s… most of the test is done, but there are many hours of analysis that will go into determining the scores. The team of epilepsy specialists here will be reviewing all of Shad’s tests and data and will be formulating a plan over the next couple months to help keep Shad’s seizures under control. That being said, we go in for a follow-up appointment on April 17th, and probably won’t be making any major changes in Shad’s routine until then. Thanks for your continued prayer!!