His Love, My Joy
“This event was written on God’s Day Planner long ago. He didn’t suddenly wake up and say to Himself ‘Oh, No! Becky’s stomach has ruptured! I better do something!’ No, Dr.---, the God I serve has arranged every day of my life, so we don’t need to worry about it.”
This conversation took place 2 days after major, emergency surgery at UNC Women’s Hospital.
I had woken up at 5 a.m. sharp on Wednesday, October 24, 2012, with the most excruciating pain imaginable in the left upper quadrant of my abdomen. Immediately I knew that something in my abdomen had ruptured. My mind went over the side effects of the medical treatment I was taking. Until that moment, the lists of potential side effects somehow hadn’t registered as being for me. They were side effects for other people, but certainly not for me.
I was alone on the farm. Dave and Nigusse were at the seminary for their classes. After crying out to the Lord to help me, the “nurse” in me kicked in. My first concern was whether or not I was going to go into shock, which meant losing consciousness, which meant calling 911 immediately. So I did some “shock tests,” and found that I was functioning fine. So I suspected that my spleen and vasculature were probably OK. Of course, the shock could come later (it might be a slow leak), but for now I was safe to plan my course of action.
I walked to the Library Room/Den. I couldn’t stand up straight….another sign of acute abdomen. The pain was horrendous. The next big issue was whether to drive myself to the emergency room, or to call 911. Living in the country, we are served by a volunteer EMS service. I knew there was a chance that they wouldn’t understand my non-country accent; I knew they would have to be woken up from their beds, and they would need time to dress and get their lipstick on correctly. Our home is a ways off the road, so there was always the possibility that they wouldn’t be able to find my house.
On the other hand, I knew that if I drove myself, perhaps I would pass out, and involuntarily hurt someone else on the road. So for a full 5 minutes I prayed to the Lord to show me which way to get to the Emergency Room.
At last I had peace about driving myself to the ED. I struggled into my bathrobe and slippers, and drove carefully, being mindful of having enough response time to pull over if I began to lose consciousness. In 20 minutes I was walking into the ED, thankful that no ambulances were parked at their door. “I have an acute abdomen,” I announced to the bewildered receptionist.
Little did I know what God had written on His Day Planner for me for that October 24. By the end of the day, I had been transferred to UNC Women’s Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC, and was heading into emergency surgery to find what has ruptured. The surgery lasted many hours. The primary surgical team could not find the leak. A second surgical team was brought in. They finally found a small, 1-mm perforation in my stomach. I have never had an ulcer, nor do I have an ulcer now; this tear was 100% due to the chemo and the steroids necessitated by the chemo. The next day, I had a full-blown fungal infection in my blood, caused by the perforation.
Throughout the next 2 weeks in the hospital, even though suffering physically, I felt like I was sitting on the sidelines watching the Lord work. He was so very real and present to me! Every person who entered my room was a God-appointment. The Spirit was so thick in that room! What a joy it was for me to witness Him at work in my room….to nurses, aides, visitors, housekeepers, doctors, residents. It was awesome!
The Truth of the Sovereignty of God…that He rules and overrules and ordains the happenings at every level of the universe …filled my heart with such peace. From the beginning I knew that this was a life-or-death situation. The doctors spared no punches. We all knew that I very well could be ending up in heaven by the end of the day.
Yet I had no fear, no concern, no anxiety. My only regret was all that I had intended to do for the Kingdom (like write more articles), that I hadn’t done.
After 2 weeks I was sent home, with a hospital bed, physical therapy, IV medicines, home health nurse, etc. And suddenly things changed. It was as if God turned the faucet, and shut off all Kingdom work. Then the discouragement overwhelmed me.
Here I was struggling to recover. It was my battle. No one could fight this fight for me. I had to pull myself out of bed, despite the pain. I had to do all the doings that needed to be done to get well. I still had peace of His sovereignty, but my joy was gone.
For about 2 weeks I battled an existence without joy. To live without joy is MUCH worse than to live with pain.
Then the Lord put me in the hospital again…this time with a blood clot. It was a piece of cake compared to what I had just been through. But as I lay in that bed, He showed me something. “Becky, you have done well to rest in my sovereignty. Your reward has been a supernatural peace. But you have forgotten that I exercise my sovereignty according to my love. That is why you have not had my supernatural joy.”
It was one of those Ah-ha moments. Of course! How could I have forgotten? God is love. Love permeates every aspect of His Person….His thinking, His justice, His operations, His sovereign will. He is not like the fake gods of mankind or the political rulers of the nations, which exercise their supposed sovereign power according to their moods or selfish agendas.
No, my God not only has a Day Planner where He has written all that will come into my life, day by day…..but He has written everything with LOVE!
It is this truth…..Loving Sovereignty…that brought the joy back to my heart.
There are many verses about this supernatural joy in the Scriptures. Look at Philippians 4:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:16 and 18, and Ephesians 5:20. My husband, the Greek scholar, tells me that these verses say “all the time,” “in every situation,” and “for every circumstance.” That’s pretty comprehensive!
How can we possibly rejoice all the time, in every situation, and for every circumstance? Only when we go back to that little prepositional phrase “in the Lord.” Paul wrote “Rejoice in the Lord.” That means: rejoice because of the character of the Lord; rejoice because of who He is.
And I have learned a wonderful truth about His character: His sovereignty is exercised by His love. And it is because of that truth that my life can be filled with joy, at all times, in every situation, and in every circumstance.
So now, when I awake in the morning, I ask my Father, “What have You written in Your Love for me today? Help me to accept what You have planned and, by my will, build upon it for Your Glory.”
December 5, 2012