I wanted to take a minute to write about a moment from this evening that will leave it’s impression on me forever. This won’t be the best example of my writing because their aren’t enough tissues or toilet paper in my house to dry the tears out of my eyes tonight. Some close friends know my grandma has been dealing with some tough health issues for the past year. We didn’t get good answers about why until a couple of months ago, and since then she has been through numerous procedures and two pretty major surgeries, and yet has found no relief. She is suffering greatly each and every day, and her pain is our pain too. She has been in an out of the emergency room trying to deal with fits of agony and finally, a week ago, they admitted her to her own room for constant care.
Let me back up a smidge. My grandma is no stranger to tough medical battles. When my mom was a kid, she took on a lot of responsibility to care for her siblings when my grandma was stricken with Multiple Sclerosis. Medical treatments weren’t nearly what they are today, and so my Grandma nearly lost her life. . . That is, until God heard the faithful, broken-hearted prayers of my grandparents, and healed her. He completely healed her. She still has the lesions on her brain to prove she had MS, but she has no MS, and hasn’t had a single symptom in over 40 years.
Then there was the time she got rheumatic fever as a child. It damaged her heart so badly that by the time she was 40 (I was a toddler) with three of her own kids still in her care, once again, she faced death. She told me her heart was working so hard she was dying. She cried out to the Lord, “Lord, please heal me!” And he healed her. He completely healed her.
And just like God left the lesions on her brain as a demonstration of his healing, we learned what he did about that heart several months ago (35 years after the healing) when her heart was checked as the potential source for some nagging chest pains. The doctor’s exact words during his report were, “Ma’am, you have the heart of a 40 year old!” A 40 year old. . The doctor told us it wasn’t her heart, but a hernia that could be treated with an operation.
She has walked through so many trials and has seen so much triumph with a beautiful grace and faith in Jesus Christ she could only have achieved after being tested time and time again to end of her being. And yet with each breath she remains faithful, hopeful and surrendered to God’s plan for the new day that He has given her. I could say a ton about my grandpa too. I could say a ton about my aunts and uncles and parents and their faithfulness to God and to each other through all of this, but this blog is about my grandma, who I am watching suffer, once again to the end of her being and still remaining faithful.
Today is my grandparents 58th wedding anniversary. These are two people who genuinely love and have great affection for each other. Even though bending over and standing back up, or even rolling into a kiss is an incredible feat for them these days, they still kiss when they see each other and when they part. They are effusive in their display of love and it stands as an amazing testimony to all who see them of the love of Christ and what it can look like when lived out like it should be.
Tonight, all local family went up to the hospital with balloons and cake to celebrate and praise the Lord for yet another anniversary we are never certain we will see, but grandma was struggling with many things. With the help of the nurses, we tried to make her more comfortable, and finally we all just gathered around her bed and lifted her up in prayer.
Then comes a moment that will stay with me for the rest of my life and inspire my worship as long as I live. My kids step forward to read the cards we brought. Grandpa listened quietly, but intently and then expressed gratitude when they finished each card. Grandma, despite her pain, faced each child, and whispered praises to the Lord the whole time they read. “Praise you, Lord. I love you, Lord. Thank you for these children. Thank you for blessing me so much. Thank you for loving me through them. Praise you, Lord.”
Let me say that during this emotional and challenging moment someone says to grandma, a bit tongue in cheek, “Well, I bet this is the best anniversary you’ve ever had,” and Grandma’s face goes from pinched with pain to downright pleasant and says, “Well, yes. It is.” Despite everything she is still grateful for each day with Grandpa and her family at her side through it all.
If you catch her in the worst of her suffering, and she isn’t responding to doctors or nurses or questions, you might just hear her praising the Lord for being with her through it all and for the strong sense of his presence all around her. She praises him for her wonderful husband and for generation after generation of believing children and grandchildren.
My grandmother has unconditionally loved and showed compassion to so many, decade after decade for nearly all 75 years of her life. She is a peaceful woman with a quiet, encouraging wisdom she has blessed me with time and time again. She has taken me around the world and back, literally, and picked me up when I was very, low down with no judgment. Just grace. And she has blessed me with the best extended family a girl could ever ask for. And so, Lord, please end her suffering with the same, Holy Spirit inspired peace that she has so faithfully shared with all of us.
1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
I love you, Lord. I rejoice in the hope and promise of your glory being revealed. I rejoice that my children are blessed to watch my grandmother “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 5:20), that they might live for you all of their days. You are with us, inhabiting our praises and lifting our eyes to the author and perfecter of our faith.