When our children were three, five, and eight years old, my husband cut his thumb while carrying a cement block, and it would not heal due to an extremely rare condition. At the time of his injury, only six other people in the world were known to have this same condition. He had already lost two fingers because of it, and this time he would fight a three-month-long, losing battle to save his thumb.
The doctors familiar with his case were at a hospital six hours away in another state. After we’d commuted a couple times, my husband elected to stay with his parents who lived only an hour from the hospital. So, I would make the twelve-hour round-trip in our pick-up truck, bringing the kids with me whenever I could.
It was an exhausting time of emotional turmoil for us because of the unyielding, intense pain, poor prognosis and long commutes. As I was walking toward the doctor’s office one day, feeling tired, vulnerable and unsure, I saw a woman I knew. So, I said hi, and she said hi, then she crossed the street. I thought no more of it.
A few weeks later, the doctor’s wife informed me that the reason this acquaintance of mine had crossed the street was because she was afraid of the intense, bright, white light she had seen surrounding me. What a welcome reminder of Jesus’ constant, comforting presence.
Eventually, the pain medication was no longer effective. My husband was in constant agony. His entire thumb had turned black from gangrene and could not be saved. The doctors then decided it would be best to amputate his whole arm just above the elbow.
The night I heard the news, I laid in bed, sobbing, begging the Lord to do something for my husband so that his hand could be spared. The operation was to begin very early the next morning. I finally cried myself to sleep.
The very next afternoon, I got a phone call from my husband who told me that a man had walked into his room late the night before, saying with assurance, “You don’t know me, but I’m a surgeon. I just heard about you, and I can save your hand!”
A few days later, I took my boys to my parent’s home and drove with my daughter once again to be with my husband. I had to leave my boys because summer was ending and school was about to start. It was my younger son’s first day of kindergarten. My son, today, doesn’t remember his first day of school, but my being unable to take him is still a little regret in my heart.
The bizarre yet miraculous hand-saving operation my husband received entailed removing an eighteen inch long strip of skin from around his waist and turning it into a hose to carry blood. One end of the hose was attached to his groin. The other end was grafted to his hand where his thumb used to be. His hand was to remain attached to his groin for a full six weeks, which meant his clothes had to be altered.
Whenever I stayed with my husband overnight in the hospital, I slept in a simple, metal-legged chair beside his bed. The doctor walked in one morning and caught me nodding off in that chair. He said to a nurse, “Get ChloeGrace a comfortable chair!” And, they did. I thought that was very nice.
During one of his checkups, the doctor took me out into the hallway for a chat. When he found out I loved the Lord, he grinned wide. “So do I!” he said. “I was moving with my wife and children from Florida because the Lord told me He wanted us to come here. When we arrived that day, I was beginning to question whether I had heard Him right or not, but the very afternoon we arrived, I got a call from your husband’s surgeon. He told me about the problem, and as soon as I heard THAT, I KNEW I had heard the Lord correctly. So, I told his surgeon that I could save his hand.” He grinned widely. “And, here we are. Your husband is my very first case.”
After three weeks, we were all back home again, my husband’s hand still attached to that tube. I had made a nice supper for us; pork chops, mashed potatoes and gravy, a salad, and some green beans. I might have even baked a pie. I was so happy we were all together again. But, just as we started to eat, my husband’s hand began shooting a three-foot-high arch of blood. It shot across the table, all over that food, and onto the floor. We grabbed up the kids, jumped in the truck and rushed to the hospital. The doctor easily sealed up the tear, the bleeding stopped, and all was well again. This happened on three separate occasions during those six weeks.
Once the crisis was over and I could finally relax, I walked over to my husband looking for a comforting hug. But instead, he said gruffly, “Why don’t you ask GOD to make you strong? He’s done it before. He’ll do it again.” He just glared at me.
I turned around, walked into the bathroom and began to run a bath. I said to the Lord, “WHY can’t just ONE person EVER understand?? Just ONE!!!” And a flood of tears began pouring out. I finally got into the water, still sobbing.
There was a knock at the door, and my tiny, little, three-year-old girl walked into the bathroom with a smile. Her daddy immediately called her back out. About five minutes later she walked in again, shut the door, turned to me and stood there, smiling. She was so small, only thirty pounds, and her head didn’t even come to the top of the bathroom sink. She put her hands on her hips and said, “Daddy told me to stay out, but… I think you need me.”
She walked over to the tub, with me still sobbing. She took the glass that was on the corner of the tub, the one I used to rinse the shampoo out of the kid’s hair, and began scooping up water and pouring it on my back, over and over. She would pat my hair and my back and rub my arm, smiling all the while.
As she began to pour, the room FILLED once again with the Lord’s Presence. His love was so BIG. It covered my daughter and me, enveloping us like a warm, and gentle blanket.
I’d even been cross with her that day for some reason, but that didn’t matter to her in the least. She just kept pouring, patting and stroking my hair, even making happy sounds, but not saying a word, just smiling at me. Yet, I was unable to stop sobbing.
After about twenty minutes had passed, she gave a little giggle, sort of shook her body with joy, and said, “Oh, this is so exciting!!!” And, i.n.s.t.a.n.t.l.y the pain in my heart was gone. Totally gone. All of it. From then on, I was no longer upset with my husband for what he’d said; I forgave him instantly. He’d just been through his own version of hell the last few months, and he could not give what he did not have. But the LORD could, and He DID, so very richly too.
HE IS the One who understands. Always.