As many of you know my husband, Stu Walker, had a heart attack in November of 2013. Two weeks after his initial surgery Stu went in for his checkup. His chest incision was found to be infected and they did surgery immediately. His sternum was left open so they could clean out the infection every other day. The doctor did not want him to move his body at all while his chest was opened up, so they gave him paralytics and put Stu in a drug induced coma. The doctor thought it would be for one to two weeks, but it stretched into 20 days. When Stu came out of his coma and the paralyzing drugs had worn off, he had lost so much muscle strength he literally couldn't push the nurse call button at his side.
Stu spent four months in ICU, two different hospitals, and finally rehab at Presbyterian Homes before he came home. I was working full time, seeing Stu nearly every day for one to two hours, stopping by the adoration chapel at Our Lady of Grace in Edina for a quick visit and trying to run the household. I lost weight, lost sleep and could have easily fallen into despair if it wasn't for my faith and the love, support, and prayers we received from our families, church family and Cursillo family. Thanks to each one of you that prayed or did palanca in some way for us. We definitely felt surrounded by our faith communities.
As time progressed, more struggles arose, but I kept trusting that God had the plan and I had to keep muddling along. "Jesus, I trust in you." When my watch battery died, (something that would have normally been an annoyance), I was wondering how much more I could take, I realized muddling through this was not cutting it. I recalled the book of Job in the Old Testament.
Job lost his sons, daughters, cattle and crops, all in a short time. His friends told him, he must have sinned because at that time, tragedy was seen as a punishment for sin. Job held his ground. Then his wife got on his case and he defended himself again. Finally Job was worn down by all of the negativity and complained to God. God answered by asking where Job was at creation. Job had the humility to recognize he was the created not the creator. After this, God blessed him with many more children and more wealth than earlier.
I didn't want to complain to God. After reading the daily scripture readings for many years, I was reminded of some of the following:
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
"Give thanks always and for everything..." Ephesians 5:20
"In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." John 16:33
So I became proactive. I created what I now call my Job List.
I listed each difficulty I was facing and then also listed a blessing I could find in each problem. How was God working/present in my life?
Here are a few examples from my list:
My Job List: Blessings in difficult times
|Stu had a heart attack and almost laid down to sleep
||He went to the hospital instead
|The oil gasket in my car was leaking & needed attention
||With Stu in the hospital I was able to use his car
|It was a snowy winter with many 1” snow falls not covered by our service
||Our neighbor used his snow-plow and even cleared our roof
One day I thought, Am I in God’s will if I am praying for Stu’s healing and that is not what God intends? I realized that the devil was trying to derail my faith, but I needed to hear someone say that to pray for Stu’s healing was fine as long as I would accept God’s will of either life or death. One of our deacons helped me with that.
Then one day Stu called me before I left for work. He said, “Come to the hospital. We need to talk now!” God had prepared me for that day with my morning prayer time and a devotional called Jesus Calling. I had guessed correctly, he wanted to give up. He was depressed and could not see himself recovering enough muscle strength to get out of bed, ever get out of the hospital or back home. I read that days message to him which basically said that God was with him. If you are doing my will, nothing can stop you. There will be obstacles, but don’t give up. I will be there at your side.
I told Stu that God had more for him to do or God would have taken him already. It would be slow and difficult but God and I and many others would be there for him.
There were many other difficulties on the list, but that is a sampling. It wasn’t an easy time for either of us, but by being able to see God’s hand in each event we could say God was still present and active in our lives. Sometimes we truly do live the scripture, “I will never forsake you or abandon you. “ Hebrews 13:5