A little over a week ago my Dad called me with a very serious tone in his voice. Our conversation went something like this,
Dad: "Did you get my message?"
Me: "no, I called you right back since my caller ID said it was you that called"
Dad: "Well, Steve's friend called and said he had a stroke. He's in the hospital and can't talk or move his left side.
Me: "What? Oh my Gosh!"
Dad: "Your Mom and I are getting ready to drive down there." We'll call you and let you know more when we find out. "
This is the kind of call you never want to get. I was shocked and filled with questions. How could this happen? My little brother just turned 40 last month. He's is great health. Would he be ok? I knew too that he probably didn't have insurance.
Rich was outside hanging up the Christmas lights with the kids and I was working on putting the lights on the tree. All of a sudden, I didn't feel like being festive. I fell to my knees and began to cry out to God. In the middle of my tears, the phone rang again and it was Steve's friend calling to tell me of his condition. I could tell she was upset too. Steve got on the phone and tried to talk to me. His speech was slow and slurred but I was so relieved to hear that he could speak! It was too hard for him and he passed the phone back to his friend.
The next few days are a bit of a blur. I was restless because just praying for him seemed so little. You know, you want to do something more, something big! I wanted to wrap my arms around him and reassure him that I wouldn't let anything bad happen. That we would get him the care he needed and pay for it all if we had too. I wanted to be there for him. But all I could do was pray for him and let others know to pray for him. That's it! I'll get a prayer chain going so big that Satan would have to stop picking on him! So I had a responsibility to my brother to get the word out that he needed prayer. This was something I could do.
Prayer is powerful, you know and I do believe that. Why does it feel so meaningless sometimes? Maybe because God uses the little things in life to confound the wise. Our flesh would say that being there is best, bringing flowers, talking to the right people to get the paperwork rolling for state assistance, making things happen. . . but God wanted me to watch and pray. And as I began to pray, I realized that God had prepared me to this moment.
A week prior I had sat through a teaching about being thankful in the midst of trials. I didn't know at the time that God wanted me to learn this truth personally. There is a verse in the Bible that says; "In everything, give thanks" In, is the key word. It doesn't say "For everything give thanks, but IN everything, give thanks. I believe that God gives his permission for Satan to sift us like wheat. But it is always for our good, never to hurt us. Even though it might hurt at the time, God is shaping us to succeed in this game called, life.
At the end of this teaching the application assignment was to re-write Psalm 136 in your own words. So here it goes. .
I'm thankful that my brother had a minor stroke instead of a major one, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
I praise God that he had a friend to take him to the hospital and stay with him for all the testing, His lovingkindness is everlasting.
I'm thankful for the timing, because my parents were able to make the 8 hr. drive immediately from Idaho (my Mom had hip surgery 8 weeks prior), for His lovingkindness is everlasting!
I'm thankful that the hospital that he was taken to was a Seventh Day Adventist and they were kind and didn't want him to worry about the money, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
I'm thankful that every time I called to check on him, he had visitors, for his lovingkindness is everlasting.
I'm thankful that his 6 roommates are Bible school students and they came to pray over him, for His lovingkindness is everlasting!
I'm thankful that his speech is no longer slurred and he is able to walk with a cane, His lovingkindness is everlasting.
I'm thankful that he is not depressed but is determined and motivated to get better, His lovingkindness is everlasting.
I'm so thankful that He was approved for Medicaid and all his bills will be covered, for His lovingkindness is everlasting!
I praise God that he was accepted at the best rehabilitation facility in Portland, His lovingkindness is everlasting.
I'm thankful that he will be able to go home in the next 2 weeks and won't have to live in the rehab center for months, His lovingkindness is everlasting.
I'm thankful that someone donated air miles to GFA and I can use them to see him and possibly bring him home with me for Christmas, for His lovingkindness is everlasting!
I'm even thankful that suffering brings us closer to God, for His lovingkindness is everlasting!
And most of all, I'm thankful for so many prayers and that God hears them, for HIS LOVINGKINDNESS IS EVERLASTING!
This was taken the last time I saw Steve, in the Spring of 2009
Thank you Lord !
I love you, Steve.