by Cynthia Simmons @CynthiaLSimmons
…Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him. Job 13:15 NIV
The change came suddenly. One Saturday morning, my husband, Ray, and I sat on the couch chatting. In a second, an odd expression crossed his face, and I wondered what upset him. I watched in horror as his limbs jerked and twitched. Plus, he didn’t respond when I called his name. Seizure. Seconds passed as I argued with my inner RN, refusing to believe what I saw. My husband was healthy–except he’d had a temperature and headache. Our doctor diagnosed the flu, which didn’t cause convulsions.
Ray’s body teetered, and he came close to sliding off the sofa. I pried myself away to summon my oldest son for help. The two of us eased my husband onto the carpet. Once I had Ray on his side surrounded by pillows, I reached my doctor who said to call an ambulance. Soon flashing lights and sirens filled the air, and neither of those brought calm. I longed for the EMTs to rush my husband to the hospital and unearth the problem. Instead, the techs pelted me with questions over and over. Gradually, Ray woke up both angry and uncooperative, not normal behavior for my sweet husband. His condition worried me.
Once in the emergency room, doctors diagnosed encephalitis, an infection of the brain. The specialist who managed his case found the exact virus right away and prescribed the appropriate drug. She said we were fortunate to find the cause so quickly. However, I kept watching Ray’s level of consciousness and his confusion, and I knew his condition was serious. At one point, I cried after the stress of the day, but the night nurse fussed at me. She said my tears could delay his recovery, so I sucked in my feelings and acted braver than I felt.
The next day, a neurologist dropped in and fired questions at my husband. Ray couldn’t wake up enough to understand and gave garbled replies. After listening to my husband’s failed communication, the doctor took me out in the hall and divulged grim news. Apparently, my husband never had the flu, which meant the infection had more time to damage his brain. This doctor predicted months of physical therapy to reteach him motor and language skills. His prognosis overwhelmed me. Later, I discovered the other doctors held back their predictions to avoid oppressing me.
Looking back, I’m so grateful I had read Edith Schaeffer’s work. She had written about her husband’s ministry and final illness in her book, Tapestry. She stressed we would all experience hardships in life and our response to pain mattered, since the spirit world would observe us.
Consider Job. Satan believed he would turn against God if he lost his family, so God allowed testing. Can you imagine all the angels watching? I’m sure demons stayed nearby too. Job mourned by shaving his head and tearing his clothes after losing his children. However, job responded with: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21 NKJV). When Satan then took his health, Job still didn’t blame God. He was determined to trust God no matter what: “…Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15 NIV).
Job’s story, along with insight into the spiritual realm, gave me incredible strength as I cared for my husband in those dark days. Since I had just started writing, I suspected this was battle raging in the unseen world to keep me from being effective. I struggled with exhaustion, worry, and fear as my husband inched toward a new normal, but I never accused God of hurting me. I was determined to walk through it all knowing the Lord walked with me. He would use it all in time for His glory.
When life suddenly changes, remember Job. Stay close to God while you grieve.
About the author: Former home school mother of five, Cynthia has a special spot in her heart for young moms and loves to encourage all women to pursue God. She hosts Heart of the Matter Radio, and writes inspirational fiction and non-fiction. Find her at www.clsimmons.com.
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