Since beginning my family ministry, my greatest joy has come from teaching the principles of God’s Word from texts involving families. One is the story of the nobleman’s faith (Jn. 4:46-54). God has used it to encourage many families during difficult times. One outstanding thing about this man’s faith was how it was demonstrated in the midst of a family crisis. His son was terminally ill, “at the point of death” (4:47). There is nothing that will prove the value of our faith like a crisis. If our faith can’t stand strong in a crisis, it is worth nothing. “Fair weather faith” will never see us through when our world caves in. Sooner or later every family will have to deal with a crisis. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” The issue is how you will deal with it when it comes.
Since early fall, I’ve had some indications that I might have a heart problem. This is a family problem. My three older brothers have already dealt with it. So you see, it not only runs in the family, it gallops! My indications appeared during exertion, so I tried to stay within what I felt were safe limits. But one Tuesday morning I was awakened with very intense pressure in my chest, neck and face. I got up quietly and went into the living room to pray and wait for the Lord’s direction. When the pressure subsided I went back to bed.
I awoke at 7AM with no further pain, but I knew this was a serious problem. When I called my doctor, he immediately sent me to the emergency room of a nearby medical center. After some tests, I was transported to the hospital for more extensive testing. They discovered four clogged arteries, and surgery was scheduled for Friday.
Before my heart catheterization I was praying that whatever the problem was, it could be corrected by the simplest procedure. When the doctor informed me of my condition and the need for heart surgery, I knew this was the moment of truth. I’ve always wondered how I’d react to such an announcement. Would there be fear, worry, anxiety, or peace? You don’t know till you get there. Deep down inside I’ve always wanted to find out for myself. Having been a pastor for so many years, I have stood by the bedside of many of my people at such times. But, as often as I have seen their faith displayed, I knew I needed my own experience.
Earlier in the day, I’d read Psalm 28:7: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore, my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him.” What wonderful encouragement and comfort! These were the first words that came to mind while listening to the doctor’s prognosis. My heart was overwhelmed with God’s peace, and I was able to give thanks and rejoice in Him.
With my family around me, a good surgeon, the mighty hand of God over me, and friends praying for me, I went peacefully to the operating room without a hint of worry or fear. As I awaited the anesthesia, these were my thoughts: “No matter how I come out of this, I’m going to be better. If I wake up in the intensive care unit, I’ll rejoice. If I wake up in Heaven, I’ll rejoice!” It was a win/win situation! To shorten a long story, not only did I survive, but I’m doing well. I had some discomfort, got much needed rest, and after six weeks I have returned to our ministry.
God has taught me seven things through all this.
- Our times are in His hands. He not only orders our steps, but also our stops.
- God can be trusted in a crisis. In fact, that’s when He’s at His best.
- When we have nothing but God’s Word, we have everything we need.
- Our greatest earthly treasure is our family.
- There is no greater power than the power of prayer. And there are no greater friends than praying friends.
- We are fearfully and wonderfully made. The human body is an amazing creation, and so is God’s miraculous power to heal.
- Every day is a trust from God to be used for His glory.
I hope my story and the things I’ve learned from God will help you develop more trust before the crisis comes in your life.
By Jack Palmer
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org