It isn’t very often that I sit at my keyboard to write a blog post. Most often, my time is spent preparing Bible Studies and Sermons, but I felt like an explanation of the events from this last week deserved special consideration.
On the evening of Tuesday, April 27th, my father had a heart attack. A dreadful thing to be certain, but God was in complete control of this situation. Multiple events that have occurred along this journey have just reinforced the fact that God works all things together for the good of those called according to His purpose.
My Father had retired from his many years of labor on Friday, April 23rd. He and my mother had made beautiful plans for enjoying their now abundant time together. Plans that will need to put on hold for a few months.
On Tuesday evening, my Father was working in his garden, trying to get all of his beans planted. My Brother was there with him, and they were going to have dinner that night. Mom was frying up the morel mushrooms they had just found that morning. My brother said that He was going to walk back up to his house, get cleaned up, and come back down to eat. All seemed well until, upon reaching his front porch, my Brother looked back and saw our Father sitting on the mower, slumped over the steering wheel. Thinking that odd, he hustled back down the hill to check on him.
Dad said that he felt sick to his stomach and that he shouldn’t worry. He didn’t want Mom to know about it, less she worry.
My Father and Brother walked into our parent’s house together. They ate dinner and feasted on their bounty of mushrooms, but Dad became more nauseous. He left the table to go to the bathroom, and that struck my Mother as being odd. She went to check on him, and what she found was very distressing.
He had emptied his stomach of dinner (and sadly of those delicious mushrooms as well). Of further concern though, Mom said that Dad had huge beads of sweat on his head. She said that it reminded her of how the Bible described the sweat on Jesus as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
They knew something was wrong, but they did not know the extent. My Brother took Dad’s blood pressure and pulse, both were normal. Using an Apple watch, they even thought to run an EKG. It was normal.
Still, Dad was becoming more nauseous and was beginning to have a ghostly pallor. They decided it was prudent to head to the hospital, and within a few moments, they were away.
When they arrived at the Hospital, things began moving very quickly. My Father was in the middle of having a heart attack, and they rushed him down the hallway to get a stent placed in a blocked artery.
My Mother, Brother, and I waited in a room, hoping each moment to hear some update. Finally, the doctor came out to speak with us. He told us that putting a stent in would not fix the problem. Dad would require a much more invasive procedure because he had multiple other arteries that were also severely blocked. A quadruple bypass was going to have to be scheduled.
Over the next few days, more test results would come in. It was confirmed that Dad had a heart attack, but there was no indication of any heart damage. Further, the doctor indicated that the heart attack had happened on the right side of his heart where there was only one artery with a blockage. He said that had the heart attack occurred on the left side of his heart, where there were two arteries with larger blockages, that Dad would have dropped dead almost instantly. Dad was told that if he didn’t have bypass surgery within the month that he would be dead.
His heart attack happened on Tuesday and His bypass surgery was scheduled for just a week later. During the week that he waited, all the nurses commented on what good health he was in, and questioned why he was even in the cardiac ward. With the exception of his heart, every other aspect of his health was stellar.
By Sunday, we had learned that his surgery was being rescheduled because of a conflict. His procedure would be moved back one day and performed on Monday morning.
The day of the surgery started early. My Mother, Brother, and I arrived at the hospital at 6 AM. We all visited with him for a little more than an hour before they came to prep him.
From 8:30 to 2:30, we eagerly awaited any news or update. Thankfully, the hospital staff was excellent with providing us information. After nearly 6 hours, the surgery was completed. Dad had done perfectly. His numbers were excellent and the surgery had been routine. It was the best of all possible scenarios.
We all left the hospital that evening elated, and knowing that he would receive the best care possible. He was an is in good hands.
Now, this story, in and of itself has a happy ending with my Father doing great in his recovery. But let me paint another picture here for you…one of the Providence of God.
When Dad had his heart attack, he was among family. Had he not retired, that event may well have happened at work when there was no one around. As it was, people were with him at the right time. My brother could have gone ahead into his house instead of questioning why Dad was resting on the lawn mower, but he did not. Certainly it was the hand of God that insured that Dad would be right where he needed to be in order to get help.
Even though the home tests that were administered seemed to indicate that Dad was fine, his appearance gave cause for concern, so Dad was rushed to the Hospital. Certainly the short delay and access to medical care lessened the result of this trauma. It’s was a blessing that everyone decided to go to the hospital when they did.
The heart attack happened on the right side of his heart and caused no damage, but had it occurred on the left hand side, he would have died instantly. Only God could have coordinated that with such precision.
Upon fixing the initial problem, we learned that Dad had a much more severe, hidden problem. Four arteries were clogged, not one. Had Dad not had this minor heart attack, the major issues would not have been revealed. And without knowledge of those issues, as the doctor indicated later, he would have died within a month’s time. It’s only by the grace of God that this information was learned.
A scheduling conflict caused Dad’s surgery to occur a day earlier than what we had expected. That in itself was a blessing, but we have no idea of knowing what may have happened had Dad had to wait another day for his operation. I see the Lord working here as well.
And there was something else…
After Dad had returned to his room to recover from his procedure, my family and I still needed to wait for 4 hours before we could see him. During that time, an older gentleman came into the waiting room. His wife was having a heart procedure done. He was there alone. Though his daughters were waiting in the parking lot, they were not allowed inside due to COVID restrictions.
This man sat about 20 feet away from us, and he looked despondent.
We all had brought a plethora of snacks and supplies with us, so we thought to offer him some of our bounty. He was happy to accept some crackers and water from us. He thank each of us, and I looked at him and said, “It’s no problem at all, I’m just being pastoral”.
He turned and started to take a step away and then turned back. He asked, “Are you really a pastor?” I said that I was, and he walked back to his seat.
A few moments later, I walked over to the trash can to throw something away. On my way back, he stopped me and said, “Come talk with me”. This man was in dire need of a friend. So, I asked him his name and sat and spoke with him. We talked about why he was there, his family, and his faith. He was an amazing gentleman, in a tense situation because of his wife’s medical needs, and he was alone. In the Providence of God, I was able to be there for him when his family was prohibited.
After I spoke with him privately for about 15 minutes and had prayed with him, my entire family engaged him in conversation for the next couple of hours. We all were able to help him when he needed it the most.
My friends, thus is the Providence of God. Throughout the events of the past week, surprisingly, neither I nor any of my family have felt any overwhelming anxiety. To a person, we have each said that we have felt like this was just part of God’s plan and that we were just walking along with the Lord while He executed it for His glory.
And then, of course, we come to the gentleman that we met on Monday afternoon. A man who would have been alone in his despair had Dad’s surgery not been rescheduled. God placed all of us exactly where we needed to be so that we could minister to Him.
Truly, we serve a great and wonderful God. A God that cares for us and makes provision for us. And while we may not always understand why things happen the way they do in the moments when they happen, it’s an amazing thing to look back and see exactly how God was guiding, shaping, and directing every interaction so that it all works out.
Praise be to Our Holy and Righteous God!