As I write this, it is Valentine's Day, and while folks everywhere will be gushing with the traditional celebrations of romantic love -- chocolates, flowers, expensive dinners, flashy marriage proposals, and lots of Hallmark cards -- I can think of no one who has more to celebrate today than me and my husband John.
Since Christmas I have been so sick, due to fluid build-up around my heart. Not only has the tumor against my aorta affected it, but there was also damage from radiation I'd had to that area. My impaired heart has impacted every other part of my body and I was weakening more and more. Doctors recommended that I have surgery to put a "window" in the membrane around my heart to relieve the fluid build-up, although they couldn't guarantee success -- it would be my best chance, so we decided to do it.
In the midst of all this, God seemed to be very quiet. I'm sure this was mostly MY fault, though, for just not LISTENING. I was feeling so overwhelmed that I didn't event know how to pray and my communication with Him was almost none, except for frequent pleas for HELP! For some reason, the word I clung to the most was MERCY, and I begged Him for mercy over and over -- in whatever way He saw best.
So February (National Heart Awareness Month) began with my heart surgery. It went well, although its ultimate success will still be evaluated as I recover. I was in the hospital for a week, most of that in ICU. My faithful husband John was at my side every possible moment, even though he was exhausted himself. John hadn't felt well for at least several months and was increasingly fatigued and complaining of chest pain and symptoms similar to my own. He would come to my hospital room, stretch on on the recliner next to my bed and sleep for hours. He had seen the doctor himself repeatedly and was undergoing a series of tests. They had not pinpointed the cause, but he'd had pneumonia and we knew he'd been "burning the candle at both ends" caring for me.
Finally, John saw his doctor with test results just a couple days before I was to come home from the hospital myself. The doctor wanted him admitted immediately and he became my neighbor right down the hall in the cardiac section. Yes, when I got the full news about John's condition as I lay in my own hospital bed, I fairly freaked out. I was WAY past the point of asking how much more we could take, and it seemed like it just kept on coming. But as more details unfolded about him, I realized what a miracle it was that God had safely brought us both through.
We learned that John had 4 blocked arteries: 2 blocked 99% and 2 blocked 100%. I still don't understand how he had survived and managed to function at all like this. Two days after coming home from heart surgery myself, I returned to the surgery waiting room as John underwent a quadruple bypass (we even had the same awesome surgeon!). Although he has been through much pain and now faces a tough recovery, his surgery was a success and he is already much improved!
John is a walking miracle and I have no doubt that this was exactly the MERCY that God led me to pray for -- although we had no idea at the time! How wonderful that God understands our "groanings" when we don't even know what to pray for! God saved his life by allowing this problem to be discovered and treated just in the nick of time!
" In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." Romans 8:26-27
The timing of all these events was crazy -- I don't think even Lifetime movie writers could have come up with this! As we celebrate Valentine's day, John & I both know we have so much more to be thankful for than just a little romance and paper hearts! The very heart of the one I love has been saved by the mercy of God -- it's impossible to measure that!
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.
“And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him." Luke 1:49-50