First of all, we have been Christians for over 30 years now. Down through the years, it has been a process of constant changes. The thing that has really helped me is that I have learned to a great extent to go with the “flow.” Whatever the Lord Jesus Christ wants me to do and no matter how hard the adjustment may be or how painful it is, I must yield.
With Joan’s illness at first it was lovely. She had her double by-pass and through the circumstances of that, we were reconciled with our ex-pastor’s wife who was a tremendous help and a prayer warrior. Then the grafts (veins) failed and she had to return to the hospital. Both angioplasties were unsuccessful. The surgeon came out and said that there was a great possibility that Joan would be a vegetable for the rest of her life. I told him that all I had to go on was my “faith.”
After the surgical procedure, I stayed with her until 11:00 p.m. or so. She had started vomiting which wasn’t a good sign. I left around 11:30 to go home to take a shower. A message was on our answering machine to quickly return to the hospital. She had a stroke from the medication and wasn’t expected to recover.
I called our friend, Karren and our pastor and his wife. Karren met me at the emergency entrance, Pastor Ken and his wife, Karla came shortly afterward. We went into prayer and spiritual warfare. I prayed the blood through the blockages and out of the brain. Each time her vital signs wavered I prayed them back. Karren felt a release at 3:00 a.m. and I said she should go. Pastor Ken and Karla left shortly after that.
It has been difficult at times but not overwhelming. God has honored me with the responsibility of caring for someone I love. It is not as bad as some or as good as others. Just what He knew I could handle.
Some of my dreams and desires have been put aside. But I realize that this is a short span of time compared to eternity. Ministries have been laid aside but new ones have opened up. Earthly and temporal changes have had to be made and we ask permission to make every move or change. We are best friends and this helps a lot but still we find that we need time away from each other on occasion.
The Lord has given us such grace and favor that it is awesome. We don’t dwell on the negative aspects, but of what wondrous opportunities that have been brought forth. I relish every minute we are together, yet get discouraged and give place to self-pity at times. These times are fewer and fewer as the Lord enriches and strengthens me.
Sometimes in the morning I lay awake in bed and pray. I don’t get up right away because I don’t want to disturb Joan who might have had a rough night. I wait for her to move so I will know that she has made it though another night.
Our sexual interaction has been amended and limited but I have reached victory in this. We still “talk,” a good experience and kid about it and hug a lot.
I thank God that He has allowed me to see the depths of who He is in the midst of tragedy. My perspective of chronic illness has changed tremendously. I now pray differently and feel I really have tapped into His heart in may ways. God is my strength.
By Dick Earnst
I just want to add a couple of comments to Dick’s letter. I want to first of all Praise God for this precious man in my life. Dick and I have always been friends first, and have always respected each other. After I became ill and so many changes had to take place, his love and respect never lessened. My husband does it all (except cook- I do manage to do that. He does make a mean peanut butter and jelly sandwich though).
He has done laundry, scrubbed floors, does dishes when I just can’t drag my body to do them. He has yet to complain or yell at me for not having the house work done. If the house is cluttered and I am crashed on the couch, he quietly goes about straightening things. Husbands and wives, I urge you to respect each other at all times. We learned the hard way that stress makes the situation so much worse. If a stressful situation comes up I have instant chest pain and end up having to stop everything and lay down.
Remember the person dealing with chronic illness sure doesn’t enjoy it. We would give anything to feel strong and healthy again. We need hugs, laughter and encouragement. Not anger, ridicule and attitude. My respect and love for my husband has grown even more than I thought was possible because of his attitude and devotion to my health and well being.
Dick and I had prayed about his letter and feel that if there is anyone reading it who does not understand quite what he is saying, please feel free to contact us though IDA. We will be happy to discuss it with you.
By Joan Earnst