As I stood in the emergency room at St Vincent Hospital in Carmel, IN and turned to look again into my wife’s eyes two Sundays ago, I realized her normally indomitable spirit was deeply concerned that she might have more than an inner ear infection causing her vertigo. She’d just come back from her CAT scan and we had not yet gotten the results. She’d had vertigo on an off for about three weeks and that morning it had gotten worse – so bad she could barely think, and hardly walk around. And the doctor wanted to make sure there wasn’t something wrong with her brain – you know, make sure there wasn’t a tumor or something causing her dizziness.
We are, my wife and I, pretty optimistic people, I think. The thought had never occurred to me that something more serious could be wrong with her than an inner ear infection. But I could see in her face, hear in her voice, and see by the tear in her eye that she’d been ground down a bit with the dizziness and now the uncertainty of what was causing it. I thought to myself, “It always turns out alright. We will cope with it, come what may. God will see us through.” But now, I had to admit that you can’t always know what can happen. Things don’t always turn out for a time as being good, or positive, at least not in the short run. What if something was seriously wrong with my beloved Wife?
God said through Peter, “All the people are like grass, and their glory is like the flowers of the field: the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” And he said through James, “For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.”
I thought this too this week, when I received word from my Sister that our Father had been in a car accident: What would happen to him? She didn’t know the extent of his injuries. He was alive and she was on the way to the hospital out East, back near Philadelphia, where I grew up. But it turned out okay. He was alright, very banged up and bruised at 81 years of age, but okay.
So back to the ER and my wife. I thought surely this will turn out okay, but why should it? Just because I was calm and the Lord has given me an easy life, and nothing really sad has happened to me before, doesn’t mean this is going to turn out okay.
But the statistics! Yes, the statistics of it are always in my head. I think in numbers, in probabilities of outcomes, of charts and graphs and continuums. The statistics were in our favor. The odds were that she didn’t have a brain tumor, that she just had a stubborn ear infection, and could take comfort in that. After all, I got an A in Statistics in college. Surely it would turn out alright with my wife.
But you can’t count on that, can you? Many of you have experienced sudden, unexpected loss, disappointment, and terrible news that you didn’t expect, bad events that you didn’t deserve. Awful, gut wrenching things can happen unexpectedly and for no apparent reason.
And then there is Job. Job lost his family, his wealth, and his health. And his friends came to comfort him, but ended up accusing him. They accused him of deserving to be treated thus. That he must have done some evil to deserve it all. Yet Job did not lose his faith in God. Job got a bit riled and challenged the Lord, but doesn’t that show that he believed in God, because he wanted to talk to Him?
Would I be as strong if my dear Wife suddenly had a brain tumor, and was struggling for her life? But I heard my voice reaching out to her and comforting her. My step drew near and my hand reached out to her and I comforted her that it would all be alright. Blind faith was what was needed to comfort her, and to keep us together, with each other, and with the Lord. I was her comforter and her security, and a calm face and a hopeful demeanor is what she needed, what was called for. And that comes natural to me, but you just don’t know do you?
And in the end the doctor came in with the good news that all was normal with her brain. And he gave her some medicine and it helped her tremendously. And we went home and she recovered greatly over the next few days, and all was well.
For as God said through Paul to the Romans, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose.  For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So even if something bad happens, we must perservere.
James 4:13-17 NIV
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.