What The Lord Taught My Dad Through My Mom’s Emergency Crisis

I want to begin by saying that this whole thing was probably for me as much as anyone. At least I derived a fair amount of spiritual good from it and for that I am deeply grateful to God. I didn’t know going into it, but this whole situation would turn out to be a Abraham/Isaac-like event for me (Gen. 22:1ff.). It was major surgery that Nancy was facing, but still, I understood that it was routine. However, I believed it was needful to be both mentally and spiritually prepared for it. So it was that a couple of weeks or so before Nancy’s scheduled surgery, I asked the Lord to please give me Scripture that would be helpful to me as we faced this time together. Immediately Job 1:21 came to mind—“the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” I kept this in my heart and really cringed at the thought of possibly losing my wife. Nancy and I arrived at Lutheran Medical Center at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, October 9, 2007. We prayed together that morning as we waited in the examination room for the doctor to arrive. As I watched her walk down the hallway to the operating room, a thought entered my mind that I quickly dismissed. It was that I may never see her alive again. The surgery began at 7:30 a.m. and was completed by about 9:30. I was relieved, but was mildly surprised when I was called to the recovery room to join my wife following her successful operation. Since she had undergone the two-hour procedure under local anesthetic, she was alert and we were able to talk together. A nurse came and started a Morphine IV drip for her pain. Not long after that, the nurse noticed that Nancy’s blood pressure began to drop some and her heart rate began to increase. This condition continued into the afternoon until the doctors felt that there may be some internal bleeding in the area where the surgery was performed. She was taken for a CAT scan and then for artery catherization to check for bleeding. No bleeding was discovered. She was given a unit of blood. During the later hours of Tuesday night the blood pressure/heart rate problem persisted, along with an increasing breathing difficulty. She was taken again for another CAT scan to ensure there definitely was no internal bleeding. Nothing definitive was noticed. Once again she was given blood. Back again in the recovery room these problems worsened. A little after 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Nancy looked at me with wide-opened eyes and then slowly closed them as she lapsed into unconsciousness due to respiratory failure. I immediately alerted the medical personnel that she was not responding and the recovery room instantly went into a code blue emergency mode. I was asked to leave the room as nurses and doctors went to work on my wife’s lifeless form. An anesthesiologist that answered the call for additional help inserted a breathing tube into her mouth and she was hooked up to a respirator. Nancy was quickly taken back into the operating room to undergo a second surgery through the very same incision. The little room her bed was in just a moment before, was now eerily empty and silent. The wrappings of used medical supplies that had been hurriedly thrown down there as people worked desperately to save her life, were strewn all over the floor. I walked into the room and looked at the monitor on the wall. It told the story. On the screen was a minute-by-minute record of her falling blood pressure. The last line was just a series of question marks. I stood there and tried to analyze the data that just seemed to be hanging there, and wondered to myself if this would be the end of my wife. I walked over to turn off the light switch and quietly closed the door. The only piece of furniture left in the room was the single chair that I had been sitting in earlier. I kneeled down in front of the chair and began to pour out my heart to the Lord. A nurse came to the door and opened it and said, “Sir, are you okay?” I answered, “Yes, I’m praying.” I recalled the words of Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, and 31. Four times the psalmist says, “O that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.” God challenged me to praise Him in the midst of my distress. The Lord once again brought to mind Job’s words, “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” The Lord made clear to me that He is always good and is to be praised at all times. If He chose to give her back to me or take her home to be with Him, the Lord is good and is to be praised. He reminded me that the one that he gave to me almost thirty-one years ago ultimately belonged to Him, and that I must totally release her into the all-loving Hands of her heavenly Father. The Lord then not only had me recall what Job said, but He also reminded me of what Job did when he faced greater tragedy in his life. The Bible says that he “fell down upon the ground, and worshipped.” What would I say and what would I do at this time as I faced the possible death of my wife? There on my knees, with my face buried in my arms upon the seat of that chair, by the grace of God, I worshipped! I began to thank the Lord for His bountiful goodness. I praised Him for all His mercy, the least of which I was unworthy of. I rejoiced in His righteousness and reveled in the Holy One Who does all things well. As God commanded Abraham to lay his only son on that altar, I placed the dear wife that God graciously gave to me on the altar of complete surrender.
With earnest and sincere heart I blessed His name, whether He chose to take her home or bring her back into my arms. God had won the victory in this Jacob-like man.

Having taken this important step of absolutely surrendering Nancy to Him, I rose up from my knees and sat down in that lonely chair with my Bible in hand. I still faced some dread and fear of Nancy’s death. I prayerfully searched the Psalms praying for the voice of God to speak to my troubled heart. He led me to Psalm 34:4, “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me, from all my fears.” There I was seeking His face and I just knew that He heard me. My fears were relieved. My heart was quiet and still. I thought of the time I stood in a pediatric intensive care unit in my early days as a pastor and comforted the hearts of a young grieving mother and father as they grappled with the reality of their newborn on the brink of death. God brought the very passage He gave me to comfort them back to my heart. Psalm 27:13-14, “I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the LORD.” Just that evening when Nancy and I were alone in the room together, I asked her what she was thinking and she pensively said, “The Lord is good.” The Psalmist Asaph said, “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart” (Psalm 73:1).

The second surgery revealed no actual bleeding, but two small veins were oozing, like when you skin your knee. Some additional surgery was done, the area cleaned, and closed back up. Her vital signs began to stabilize and she was placed in Surgical Intensive Care for close observation. Nancy was in ICU from early Wednesday morning until Saturday afternoon. She was placed in a regular room on Saturday and was released the next day, on Sunday afternoon. She is home with us, walks upstairs, and takes no pain medication.

I was prompted by the Lord to think of this whole ordeal as a kind of captivity in light of Psalm 126:1-3. It was a “medical” captivity. God delivered and the heathen were caused to note the fact that the Lord did great things for us—peace, life, salvation! Let me share just a couple of examples. When Nancy was in the operating room the second time, I approached the nurse’s station where several nurses were gathered. One of them sympathized with me and asked me if I wanted to speak to a priest. That opened the door to briefly share the Gospel and give all of them tracts. A day or so after the ordeal, the doctor that sutured Nancy back up came by her room to check on her progress. I was standing outside the door and he expressed his sadness for the way things turned out. As I handed him a Gospel tract he told me that that explained how I could remain so calm when all of this was happening. I informed him that my peace was only attributable to the grace of God at work in my life. He later told my wife of the amazing “peace” he observed. During the course of the day, I gave Nancy’s doctor a tract and briefly spoke to her. Nancy mentioned that just before she was released from the hospital, Dr. Eng spoke to her and told her that obstetricians and surgeons know that often things are out of their control and that they sometimes see miracles. She said that it was good to know that while she was operating, a man of God was praying.

It is evident to me that while Nancy was undergoing literal surgery, the Lord was performing spiritual surgery in my heart. I don’t know if you caught them, but there were seven distinct movements to the spiritual surgery the Lord performed in my life through this incident. Let’s briefly review them because these are precisely what the Lord does in the heart of all His children who are passing through some painfully trying experience.

I. GOD GAVE ME GRATEFULNESS (Ps. 107:8, 15, 21, 31)—I recalled the words of Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, and 31. Four times the psalmist says, “O that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.” God challenged me to praise Him in the midst of my distress.
II. GOD BROUGHT ME TO YIELDEDNESS (Job 1:22; Gen. 22:1-6)—The Lord once again brought to mind Job’s words, “the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” The Lord once again made clear to me that He is always good and is to be praised at all times. If He chose to give her back to me or take her home to be with Him, the Lord is good and is to be praised. He reminded me that the one that he gave to me almost thirty-one years ago ultimately belonged to Him, and that I must totally release her into the all-loving Hands of her heavenly Father. As God commanded Abraham to lay his only son on that altar, I placed the dear wife that God graciously gave to me on the altar of complete surrender. With earnest and sincere heart I blessed His name, whether He chose to take her home or bring her back into my arms. God had won the victory in this Jacob-like man.
III. GOD TAUGHT ME HIS WORTHINESS (Job 1:21)—“worship” is derived from the old English word “worthship.” Worship is the recognition that He is worthy. The Lord then not only had me recall what Job said, but He also reminded me of what Job did when he faced greater tragedy in his life. The Bible says that he “fell down upon the ground, and worshipped.” What would I say and what would I do at this time as I faced the possible death of my wife? There on my knees, with my face buried in my arms upon the seat of that chair, by the grace of God, I worshipped! I began to thank the Lord for His bountiful goodness. I praised Him for all His mercy, the least of which I was unworthy of. I rejoiced in His righteousness and reveled in the Holy One Who does all things well.
IV. GOD DELIVERED ME FROM MY FEARFULNESS (Ps. 34:4)—I still faced some dread and fear of Nancy’s death. I prayerfully searched the Psalms praying for the voice of God to speak to my troubled heart. He led me to Psalm 34:4, “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me, from all my fears.” There I was seeking His face and I just knew that He heard me. My fears were relieved. My heart was quiet and still.
V. GOD CAUSED ME TO TRUST HIS FAITHFULNESS (Ps. 27:13-14)—I thought of the time I stood in a pediatric intensive care unit in my early days as a pastor and comforted the hearts of a young grieving mother and father as they grappled with the reality of their newborn on the brink of death. God brought the very passage He gave me to comfort them back to my heart. Psalm 27:13-14, “I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the LORD.”
VI. GOD SHOWED ME HIS GOODNESS (Ps. 34:8; 73:1)—Just that evening when Nancy and I were alone in the room together, I asked her what she was thinking and she pensively said, “The Lord is good.” David says in Psalm 34:8, O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. In the song, “Knowing Christ,” John & Mary Van Gelderen write, Oh, to taste the goodness of the Lord, Satisfying hunger in my heart. Oh, to hear the cadence of His voice, Speaking peace within my inner man; Oh, to feel the comfort of His touch, Graciously upholding me in need. Oh, to know the presence of the Lord; Oh, to taste, to hear, to feel, to see. Oh, to know the presence of the Lord, Knowing Christ in full reality.” The Psalmist Asaph said, “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart” (Psalm 73:1).
VII. GOD USED ME AS HIS WITNESS (Ps. 126:1-3)—I was prompted by the Lord to think of this whole ordeal as a kind of captivity in light of Psalm 126:1-3. It was a “medical” captivity. God delivered and the heathen were caused to note the fact that the Lord did great things for us—peace, life, salvation!

Needless to say, the Lord has used this incident in all of our lives. This was a wonderful spiritual exercise. Our hearts are extremely grateful to God for His wonderful works. Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness, love and prayers.

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