My daughter-in-law, Amy, is an operating room nurse in a nearby hospital. She didn't start out in the OR, however. She was originally a nurse in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. Here, she would care for patients who had undergone surgery for life-threatening conditions. When we would get together, I would ask Amy about her work, and we would chat about the patients she had tended to, as well as those who were cared for by her coworkers. She would also tell me about the families of her patients, and how she would pray for them, and do her best to comfort and encourage them. Amy's heart would break every time a patient in her unit would die, especially after she had earnestly prayed for their recovery. Year after year, I would listen to details of my daughter-in-law's heart-wrenching experiences as an ICU nurse, and I would do my best to lift her spirits and pray for her. Eventually, Amy felt that for her own sanity and well-being, she needed to transfer out of the ICU, and she felt led by the Lord to go work in the hospital's operating room. She has been there for several years now, and she is really enjoying it.
When my husband, Joe, found out that he needed open-heart surgery to repair a failing heart valve, we were stunned. At first, my husband absolutely refused to have the surgery. But after being told by all of his doctors that he would die without it, he reluctantly agreed. Initially, Amy was totally against the idea. She had seen too many patients in her unit die after cardiac surgery, and she wasn't about to see that happen to her father-in-law. After we all talked about it together, however, and earnestly prayed about it, we all agreed that open-heart surgery was my husband's only option.
For weeks before Joe's surgery, I took my husband for test after test at the hospital to prepare for his operation. And all those weeks, I had plenty of time to think about all of the "horror stories" of Amy's that I had listened to for years when she worked in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. I knew that I had to spend extra long "quiet times" with the Lord each day, praying and reading His Word, and getting His will and perspective in the matter. There was no question that this surgery was God's will for my husband. But what was NOT His will was for me to become fearful or fretful at any time before, during, or after Joe's surgery. I had already spent years memorizing and meditating on God's promises of peace in the midst of trouble and turmoil. But this surgery would be my greatest challenge to date.
I must confess that nothing could prepare me for what I saw when a nurse ushered me into the Intensive Care Unit after my husband's surgery. Joe was hooked up to more tubes, hoses, wires, and machines than I had ever seen in my life. And he was connected to a ventilator to help him breathe. The first time a team of doctors and nurses tried to remove the tube from Joe's throat, my husband failed to breathe on his own. I suddenly began to see mental images of my husband being hooked up to a ventilator for the rest of his life. I immediately left the ICU and went out into the hallway, where I called upon the Lord and claimed His promise which says, "I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from ALL my fears." (Psalm 34:4 NIV) Then, on the authority of the Word of God, and in the name of Jesus, I took authority over the fear coming against me, and I boldly declared, "God has NOT given me a spirit of fear, but a Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind!" (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV) As peace flooded my soul, I was able to pray focused, fervent prayers for my husband, as well as for those who were trying to help him. The next time the hospital team tried to remove Joe from the ventilator, their efforts succeeded, and from then on, Joe's health steadily improved.
All those weeks leading up to my husband's open-heart surgery, when I was tempted to allow my memories from conversations with Amy to torment me, the Holy Spirit reminded me again and again of God's promises to His righteous ones: "They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly." (Psalm 112:7-8 NLT) As I made a quality decision to take God at His Word, the Lord did His part by making me "confident and fearless" in facing the enemy of our souls who "comes only to steal and kill and destroy." (John 10:10 NIV) Today, no matter what you are facing, refuse to fear bad news, put your trust in the living God, and prepare to come out of your troubles "triumphantly"!
Lord, on the basis of Your Word, and in the name of Jesus, I ask that You deliver me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4 NIV) Help me to cooperate with You in the process by diligently seeking You through undistracted, unhurried prayer and Scripture reading. Teach me how to act wisely about what I watch and listen to, so that I won't ever feed my fears. Thank You that as I keep my mind stayed on You and trust in You, You will keep me in perfect peace! (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV)
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