A woman lay in a hospital room with wires connected to her body—but it was not me. She was on her hospital bed, unable to lift her right arm or use her right leg—but it was not me. She was trying to explain to the health-care professionals how all this started, but the words were emerging slurred and nearly garbled. That could not be me.
As if watching a hospital-based television show, I focused on the IVs that were inserted and an EKG that was taken. I watched as I continually failed to lift the weighted leg, until my son said, “Rest, Mommy; it’s OK if you cannot lift your leg.”
I listened as the nurse calmly stated: “BP is 198/119,” then “BP is 204 over 100.” I felt my son hold my hand in comfort as he attempted not to furrow his brow, and I heard my voice try to recite scripture until it became too cumbersome for my brain.
It could not be me. I am a Bible-believing, commandment-keeping, and non-caffeine-drinking, nonsmoking, exercising vegan. My son tried in vain to wipe the silent tears that would not stop rolling from my eyes. This was not someone else’s silent frame lying in the emergency room with all the signs of a stroke. It was me, and for the first time in my life I felt my mortality.
While fighting the desire not to fight, I realized that despite my attempts to live well, I was not in control of my life. My life was not my own. Sickness exists in this sinful world, and I was susceptible to it. We all are. Regardless of how well we care for ourselves, every time we inhale, every flower we smell, every mango we enjoy, is a testament to the sustaining power of God.
Did my current state mean I would reject the lifestyle that caused the professionals to marvel at my healthy organs, while baffled by the cause of the unnaturally elevated blood pressure? Quite the contrary. It has brought me to understand that what was a transient ischemic attack (TIA) may very well have been a massive stroke were it not for the blessing-filled lifestyle that God has provided the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
It was now clear that Sabbath rest is more than the cessation of work. It involves total surrender of the self and the stresses of life in order to draw closer to God. In Psalm 139:3 David said: “You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” Clearly, he had spent time resting in the Lord.
Nearly six weeks before the initial TIA I told an insurance agent, “I don’t need additional health insurance, because I never get sick, not even a cold.”
The naïveté of that declaration seemed amusing now. Even though I still believe that it is not God’s desire that any of His children experience the diseases of the world (Exodus 15:26), the lesson is clear for me. Because of sin there is sickness and death. We must accept it, live the best that we can within God’s will, and know that He is there in the lessons and in the living. He is never asleep when His children experience pain, sickness, or death. He is there shouldering the brunt of it, enfolding us, and encouraging us. Hallelujah!