On Pain and Redemption

imagesA couple of months ago I wrote about winding up in the hospital with a ruptured appendix. And I’m not quite ready to move on from there. I realize I run the risk of redundancy, but there’s more to say, since God has done so much as a result of this trial.

After my first surgery, there was a second too.

About two weeks after coming home, I started to get fevers, which signaled infection. Back to the hospital we went and another CAT scan confirmed an abscess. I was so discouraged! I was getting better! My boys were so happy to have me home and now, Marvin would have to break it to them that mommy was back in the hospital.

The surgeon put me on strong antibiotic IV medication hoping the abscess would shrink. After three days it became apparent that I would need yet another surgery to remove it. Those nights in the hospital were horrible. One night, my temperature soared so high that the nurses rushed to pack me in ice to get it down. I just lay there scared, lonely and miserable. The only words that came to mind were those of an old spiritual, “Fix me, Jesus, fix me.” I whispered those words into the night, trusting that God was listening: amidst tears and the horrible beeping of hospital machines, just Fix me, Jesus.

Well, God did, indeed, fix me. He answered our prayers for the least invasive and most successful surgery, and I went home after few days. Yet another incision site for Marvin to dress and look after, more pain medication, more antibiotics. Once again, the only comfortable place for me to sleep was in a recliner in our family room. My abdomen looked and felt like a war zone and lying prone and getting myself out of bed proved too painful. I really want to throw away that recliner now. There’s nothing wrong with it, but I grew to hate it and it brings back bad memories.

About a week later, I started throwing up.  Thankfully, that stopped after about 24 hours and we realized it was merely the stomach bug Marvin and the boys had while I was in the hospital. Just the devil’s scare tactic, trying to get in one last blow.

Amidst the pain and fear of this second hospital visit, something wonderful began to happen. We started to see the underbelly of our church. So many wonderful people visited, encouraged, prayed for us and helped us. We received yet more meals and we bonded with folks we had only known casually. We had attended for years and served in many capacities, but there’s something about vulnerability that bonds hearts and unites lives. And our 4,000 member church became family.

One day as I was napping in the recliner, my cell phone rang and it was our senior pastor offering me a job! He asked about my recovery and cut to the chase. It would be a part time position overseeing the prayer and care ministries of the church. My heart leapt because just a few months ago, Marvin and I were throwing around the idea of me working part time and he concluded, “Nicole, you’ve always done ministry and I think you’re built for ministry, so let’s just see what God does.” And somehow, amidst this awful trial, God did it. I get to help strengthen the very ministry that was so vital to me.

One of the things I love most about God is His ability to redeem anything. He is the Redeemer. He can take any bad situation and use it for good. There’s nothing too hard for Him to redeem. The devil can plot and scheme and devise and in one instant God can breath on it and bring forth beauty. Joseph recognized this when he said to his brothers, But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20).

If you’re going through a trial, just remember, Romans 8:28 is still true: “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.”








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