7:09 AM: “Dad is having jaw and chest pains. He says they went away now. I wanted to take him to ER.”
I was receiving report on patients when I got this message from my mom. My heart sank. I called her immediately. She told me some more scary details: numbness in his left arm, sharp pains, sweating. She told me they were on their way to the emergency room.
7:49 AM: “Here”
7:50 AM: “I think he’s having a heart attack.”
In that moment, I felt sick. I forgot how to function, let alone take care of my patients. I rushed into my manager’s office and told her everything going on, tears flowing down my cheeks. The thoughts running through my head were coming so quickly, I couldn’t even process them. The next thing I knew, I was in the ER with my parents, staring at a shell of a man who only vaguely resembled my father. Pale was the first thing I thought. Sweaty, clammy, grimacing in pain. “NOT ENOUGH BLOOD PUMPING” my nursing brain fired at me; “SCARED” my daughter brain registered. I hugged my mom and fought back the tears that wanted to trickle down my cheeks again, I squeezed my dad’s hand. The doctors and nurses were rushing around, medications I knew backwards and forwards that I used daily were being pumped into my dad’s system and still, he looked bad.
10:07AM: My dad was taken into the cardiac catheterization lab to investigate and fix a blockage if there was one. My family and I sat in the waiting room. I remember telling my Nana, “I’m not scared. Everything is going to be ok.” But really my heart was in my chest and I couldn’t sit still. I was praying without ceasing and knew that all my friends were too, but I was still doubtful.
11:34AM: We met with the cardiologist and I got to see my dad. He looked normal again. He was laughing. The cardiologist explained to us that his left anterior descending artery (the artery that supplies most of the blood to the front of the heart) was 100% blocked. I felt like I was going to throw up in this moment. WHAT. 100%. The cardiologist explained that he placed a heart stent that saved dad’s life.
Several days later, I realized that I was mad at God for letting this happen to my dad. I kept thinking “If He loved me, then why would he let my dad have a heart attack?”. It’s only been about two weeks since this happened, but God has shown me that even though I doubted He was there, He had never left. God was so present through the entire situation.
As I kept re-telling the story to my friends and family, God revealed to me how much he stood by my family when we were in tears. He showed me through things that could be considered coincidences that His hand was controlling the situation the entire time and that He wasn’t taking us through this circumstance to punish us, but to draw us close. He tugged at my heart to look at my phone (which I rarely do at work in the morning). He got my dad to one of the best cardiovascular hospitals in our area ALIVE, even though his artery was 100% occluded. The doctors admitted that had they known how serious the heart attack had been, there wouldn’t have been such a long period in between the catheterization and ER. God was there in our mourning and weeping when the end seemed close. Still, he was there when I was mad and angry for letting this happen. God doesn’t abandon us even though we abandon him.
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)
“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
“The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:11-13)
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6-9)
God doesn’t promise us an easy life, but he does promise to be there. He is our comfort in the storm and our light in the darkness. God’s word lights the way for us, and he is close to us in our times of trouble. Though we may grow weary and doubting and afraid, God’s ever loving heart will draw us close and use the experience for our growth.
Beloveds, please know that if you doubt God, you are not alone. I’ve been there. Job has been there. The Israelites were there. The Bible is full of doubting believers, yet God will use it for His ultimate glory. He is there just as much in the valley as he is on the mountaintop. Do not grow weary, stay hopeful. God will move when you least expect it.
The hope I want you to be encouraged by from my story is that God’s goodness is available 24/7. He never leaves us, even when the darkness sinks in. The darkness is not dark to him, it is light to him (Psalm 139:11-12). What is true of Him in the rejoicing and happy times of our lives, is still true when things turn scary and lonely. God remains. The seasons of our lives change, the people in our lives change, but God remains. He is faithful, loving and good. The gospel is not only for the start of our journey with God, it is for moment after moment; it is for times of joy, doubt, and despair. We need it for every situation in our lives, the same way we need oxygen to breathe. The gospel isn’t any less true in a doubtful, scary situation like my dad’s heart attack. Though sometimes, we doubt God, He will always be there and will use our doubting hearts to draw us closer to Him, we only have to seek Him.
Fill in the blank that the enemy is deceiving you with: “If He loved me, then why would he ______ “ and ask God to cast out that lie. Friends, when you have a doubting, fearful heart, seek God and He will change it.