Why I am still here? Through cancer in 2009, and coronavirus in 2021.
From a practical standpoint, the cancer was almost a non-issue. It was caught early, and even though it had moved from it’s original spot in my tonsils to a small spot on the back of my throat, and into nearby lymph nodes in my neck, it was still very treatable. Nonetheless, because it had begun to spread, had it not been caught when it was, it could have become much worse, even life-threatening.
The Covid experience was much worse. While most people, including the rest of my family members who had it, have had only mild cases and a few symptoms, it slammed me to the floor as it has many others! Ventilator for just over a week with the doctors giving little hope of survival, ICU for 3 more weeks, lost almost 40 pounds, extremely weak, a couple of bouts with pneumonia, lung damage…. Suffice it to say, it was not a pleasant experience. Yet, I survived.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt I am here because of the prayers of the many people who were interceding for Trish and me. Yet, that begs the question, why did I survive, while others who also have been prayed for have not? Was the right number of people praying? Were the right people praying? Did the people praying have more faith? There is no satisfactory answer to any of those questions.
I do know there were several things that made a difference. One was the will to live. And I know there were people praying that I would have the will to live.
For me, that included the will to live for family’s sake. There were at least a couple of times when “death” seemed to be a tangible presence in my ICU room. It was as though an entity was there encouraging me to give up and die. And, considering how much better heaven would be, it was tempting. Then I thought of my family. I knew it would break their hearts. I knew Trish was not ready to be without me. Although I knew God would give her the grace for it if I did die, it just didn’t seem to be the time. I wanted to live and be a part of her life. I didn’t want, by choosing to give up, to cause grief to my wife, children and grandchildren. Nor did I feel like it was time for me to not be here and try to be a positive influence on their lives.
If God wanted to take me home, that would be His choice. However, I was convinced God was not through with me here on earth. For whatever reasons, I felt there was more for me to do. I had posted on-line when I was diagnosed with Covid that I was eager to see what God was going to do. I knew He would use the illness, and I wanted to live to see what He was going to do, and frankly, to finish the book about prayer which I started writing last December.
It also included learning and growing. I realized, even in my mental haze while in ICU the need to be giving thanks for all things. As miserable as I was, this was part of “all things” in my life. I wanted to live and apply the lessons God had taught, and which were in my first book, Extreme Gratitude. In addition, with the help of the nurses, Trish and I did get to talk on the phone a few times while I was in ICU. Mostly Trish talked, because I couldn’t talk above a strained, raspy whisper. Trish encouraged me to press into the Father and pray to be aware of His presence. I remember one time being confused and a little irritated that she kept telling me that, because I was trying so hard to focus on being thankful. Even so, I listened to her counsel, and added seeking Him and His presence to my attempts to be thankful. I wanted to live and know a deeper fellowship with the Father. When I got to rehab and began to re-read Extreme Gratitude, I was reminded knowing Him and His presence were key foundational principles to being able to be thankful. This was the beginning of the turning point for me in rehab. Whenever I was feeling down or discouraged, I would remember that He was right there with me, holding me, and seeing me through.
So, now, as the opportunity arises to pray for others who are hospitalized with Covid or other critical illnesses or injuries, I not only pray for healing, but that God will make His presence real to them, and remind them what they have to live for, to give them the will to live.