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I never felt “qualified” to write a post about how to trust God when bad things happen, at least not when it came to health. Overall my health had always been good! So while I did have some chronic pain issues from a spinal condition known as Spondylolisthesis, I never thought to really share about it since it was just a part of who I was and blogging about health didn’t seem to be in my wheelhouse. But having a stroke at 53 years old changes your perspective!
I Wanted – But God Had Other Plans
When I first started my blog I had a specific direction I wanted it to go in.
Oh those words “I wanted”!
How often do we try to get God to line up with our plans instead of the other way around? Too often in my case!
I knew “I wanted” to blog about the Jewish roots of our faith, anxiety and fear, spiritual warfare and even homesteading! There was this vision in my head and it was going exactly as “I wanted”. I never dreamed I would ever be sitting here blogging about how to trust God when bad things happen regarding health problems in a million years, and yet here I am about to do just that!
How to Trust God When Bad Things Happen – How it All Began
The morning of June 24, 2019 started like any other morning in our house. I got my kids up, we took care of our goats and our chickens and all our other animals and went about our day like we normally do. It just seemed like an average day.
The day soon turned into anything but average. Evening came and everything changed.
I guess it must’ve been early in the evening, probably around 7: 30 or 8:00 pm. I really don’t know what time it was but I went upstairs to my bedroom because I suddenly had a bad headache.
Normally I would’ve just taken Advil and pushed through it but I don’t even remember going upstairs. So something already wasn’t right.
Something’s Not Right
My 16 year old daughter came into my room and found me taking the pillows off my bed. I don’t know if y’all are like me but I LOVE my pillows and my bed is full of them, much to my husband’s dismay. So I was removing all these pillows and beginning to climb on top of my bed.
My daughter asked me what I was doing, because she doesn’t normally see me hopping into bed early in the evening, and I apparently answered that I had to get ready for work. She said “Mom you don’t go to work”.
I’m a blogger full-time so I basically work from home. I do work occasionally outside the home teaching blogging classes, but she knew I wasn’t doing those over the summer. But there I was telling her that I had to get ready to go to work. She asked me again and I gave her the same response, so from what I understand she came downstairs quite upset and got my husband.
She told him what I had been saying, which he immediately found odd and he went upstairs and try to talk to me but I just kept saying the same thing to him that I told her.
He was afraid and told me he was going to take me to the hospital. He asked me to get up and go with him or else he was going to call an ambulance, knowing I wouldn’t want to frighten the kids. All this was him hoping he could help me snap out of whatever was going on.
Moments of Clarity
During this time I was hearing some of what went on but I was sort of hearing it from a different place, if that makes sense.
There were times I could respond and there were times I couldn’t. But he finally managed to get me up and get me down the stairs to drive me to the hospital. He didn’t want to frighten the kids by calling an ambulance and at that time I was walking and talking on my own. In fact he said I came downstairs and I started giving the kids instructions.
I gave them the alarm code, I told them what to do and how to lock up everything. I had these moments of clarity where my brain actually kicked in to take care of my kids. And then when I got in the car I was out again. Apparently on the drive to the hospital I told my husband I need to call my mother. My mother had passed away four years prior so by this point he was pretty upset.
Arriving at the ER
There are some things I remember about being at the ER but most of it was a blur for the next day. I was in and out of clarity I like to say, because I don’t think I ever lost consciousness per se. I just don’t remember much and people were working on me without me really waking up although I was aware of their presence. But I was definitely not awake!
The next day the doctor told me that I had a TIA or Transient Ischemic Attack which is a mini-stroke and a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain but not enough to cause permanent damage to the brain. But he said he was going to admit me and send me for an MRI.
You Had a Stroke
They got me into a room and had my MRI scheduled for the next day. After the doctor consulted with the radiologist he came in and said the words I didn’t think I’d ever hear at my age; you had a stroke.
It was not a TIA. It was a full ischemic stroke and I had a visible blood clot in my brain, along with brain tissue damage. The clot was in my left, frontal lobe so this explained why all my weakness was on my right side.
To make a very long story short, they did do a bunch of tests, including a spinal tap, to ensure it wasn’t something like Lyme Disease which can sometimes mimic a stroke. Everything came back negative and it just further confirmed his diagnosis.
Neurology came in to see me and it was the first time someone pointed toward Hormone Replacement Therapy as the potential culprit. They removed me from it immediately because I not only have a family history of strokes but I have high cholesterol.
How to Trust God When Bad Things Happen – My Life Has Changed – Medically
As I write this it has been 3 weeks and I have to say that everything has changed.
I cried a lot in the first days home. I cried with fear that I could have another stroke (repeat strokes do happen often). But I am on baby aspirin and the doctor and neurologist believe that we have eliminated the risk by removing me from the HRT.
I cried because I realize all the things that are no longer “normal”. I mess up words a lot. There’s difficulty finding words when speaking. I make a lot of mistakes when writing and my memory is just not good right now.
I have a speech therapist that is helping me with word finding and getting my cognitive functions back to normal.
Trusting God When Bad Things Happen – My Life Has Changed – Emotionally
It breaks a mother’s heart when, 4 days after you are discharged from the hospital, your 16 year old is at a sleepover and she texts you to ask you if you are going to die.
My heart just ached for this kid who apparently had this fear bottled up for some time.
She was afraid it would happen again and that I wouldn’t survive so I had to reassure her when I wasn’t even sure at the time myself.
I had to watch my husband fall asleep at 8pm because he was so exhausted after managing a young child, three teenage girls, and 13 animals on his own for nearly a week and then have to worry about me on top of it all.
I felt fear with every headache and every ache and pain.
As if all this was not enough, I began to develop a skin condition known as Dyshidrosis while I was in the hospital. It is like eczema but it starts under the skin and is incredibly itchy and can end up looking a bit like psoriasis.
Mine got infected and I ended up at urgent care less than a week after being home and found I had a blood infection. My left ring and pinky fingers were in complete pain but at least I went and got treatment for it when I noticed the red lines moving up my arm, which was actually the blood infection moving through.
Then I ended up back in the hospital with what they thought was another stroke. It turned out it was actually my cervical spine, which was so bad that I had to have ACDF surgery.
The Blessing of My Blogging Family and My Friends
My friends from high school, new friends and acquaintances all rallied around me with prayers and encouragement.
Our local friends and friends from church were there for us! God heard our prayers and answered them because the one area my husband was struggling with was getting meals cooked for everyone each night. Dear friends took that task from him and I am so grateful to them all; those who visited, those who brought food, clothes and toys and those who prayed for us.
For those of you who are friends from church, for those of you who are bloggers, for those of you who are my friends and family and acquaintances, I want you to know how grateful I am for all you have done, all the love you showed me and Dave and the kids, and how much easier you made this time for us.
The Blessing of a Wonderful Husband and Children
Most of all there was my amazing husband who worked tirelessly keeping our home and kids together. He did it without complaint too.
He had to take care of a mini-farm full of animals and kids and do things he never had to do before when I was home! And he held it all together and was still there at the hospital for me!
My kids were unbelievable! Those girls stepped up and did whatever needed to be done without a single complaint.
I am so proud of all of them and so blessed to have had them there for me! They were so vital to my recovery!!
How to Trust God When Bad Things Happen – Prayer!
God heard every prayer and wow, did He ever answer!
I am now 3 weeks post-stroke and I am actually writing in Hebrew, both in handwriting and print (getting those lessons ready for you all!)! My occupational therapist said he doesn’t think he needs to come back for much longer if I am writing from left to right AND right to left!
My speech therapist said I am scoring in the high 80’s and 90’s in my assessments, which is amazing 3 weeks afterwards!
And my neurologist and primary care doctor both have said I will make a full recovery! I will recover most if not all of my speech, memory and definitely my motor functions. I was blessed to have only experienced a little muscle weakness on my right side and no other physical issues. My dizziness and feeling like I am going to “black out” are normal parts of recovery and will not last.
Prayer works!! Having prayer warriors at work for you makes all the difference!
Back to Life
I came home and almost immediately got back to life as usual with a few exceptions. I do need to make sure I give my brain a rest frequently because it is busy trying to create new pathways, but I began cooking and cleaning and taking care of my animals again.
It is, for the most part, like nothing happened. It is only when I get stressed or overdo it mentally or physically that my brain reminds me…you had a stroke!
My doctor has told me to set “checkpoints” throughout the day where I check in with myself to see how I am feeling. When you feel good it is easy to overdo it and then have no reserves for if and when something unexpected comes up. So she said I need to set those checkpoints to see if I have already done too much and need to rest.
But that is amazing!!! My biggest worry right now is whether I have done too much!! It is not that I feel I cannot do enough and that, to me, is a miracle!
I will be back to about as close to 100% if not 100% as I can get!
Purpose in Your Pain
I tell you all of this because when things like this happen we tend to ask “why”.
When I got the diagnosis I asked why and how and every other question! But I asked those questions medically, not from a place of faith.
I never once questioned why God let this happen. I knew the answer.
God worked an absolutely miraculous healing in me where even the therapists and doctors are amazed at the progress I have made and I believe He has done so in order to encourage others.
I do not believe God “caused” this to happen. But while I believe God didn’t cause this, I DO believe He is using it to maybe encourage one person who needs to hear that God sees you in your pain. God sees you in your suffering and God wants to take that and use it!
God did not put you where you are! We all make choices or live with the choices of others. God didn’t force me to go on HRT, God didn’t force the drunk driver to hit your car and cause you those injuries, God didn’t force your loved one to smoke and get cancer. God does not cause us to suffer but He CAN and DOES use those hurts to help others. He does not want your pain to be in vain.
There is purpose in your pain!
God will give you beauty for ashes! He will show that He answers prayers! He will show you that He will never leave you or forsake you!
How to Trust God When Bad Things Happen – My Life Has Changed Spiritually…Forever
We can ask why all day long but the Bible says in Isaiah 45:9:
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? ESV
Sound harsh? Yeah maybe from our self-centered human standards that seem to permeate society today. But the truth is, we are merely God’s vessels and His creation. So who am I to ask God why He made me this way? The clay doesn’t question the potter and ask why he made it a certain way. Yet we always seem to want to contend with God about our pain or our suffering.
Instead of asking God “why”, we should be saying “Here am I, send me.”
Here I am in my pain! Where do you want to lead me in it?
I am here Lord in my illness! I am here after surviving having a stroke! Who do you want me to encourage? God, who needs to see my faith through it all? Who needs to know how to trust God when bad things happen?
Here I am in my disability! Who was just injured and needs to see that you love them and that your heart breaks to see the pain they are in?
Trusting God When Bad Things Happen – Here Am I, Send Me!
God did not put us here to serve ourselves! He did not put me here so I can think about my own comfort! He put me here to be the stone that cries out when there is silence, to be the testimony to the one who thinks God has abandoned them, to be the hug when someone feels forgotten!
God did not put me here so I can think about my own comfort! He put me here to be the stone that cries out when there is silence, to be the testimony to the one who thinks God has abandoned them
I am clay in the hands of the potter, the gold being refined in the fire! I am here writing this whole blog post 3 weeks after having a stroke! If that is not a testament to God’s grace and mercy, I don’t know what is!!!
How to Trust God When Bad Things Happen – There’s Another in the Fire
The song Another in the Fire by Hillsong was played by the worship team at my church the first Sunday I returned to church after having a stroke. I already knew this song well and I immediately broke into tears the second I heard the music start.
Like Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, there was another in the fire with me as I went through what I did. I felt it. I knew it.
When I laid in the room in the ER I wasn’t alone! When I went for my MRI, there was another there.
I am crying like a baby right now as I type these words because I can remember the feeling of Jesus being right there with me as I was suffering a stroke. His hand was on my shoulder the whole time and I physically felt His presence.
There are lines in the song that say:
And I can see the light in the darkness
As the darkness bows to Him
I can hear the roar in the heavens
As the space between wears thin
I can feel the ground shake beneath us
As the prison walls cave in
Nothing stands between us
Nothing stands between us
THAT was what I felt that first 24 hours in the hospital. Nothing stood between us. I saw the light in the darkness and through my closed eyes that wouldn’t open the first hours in the ER I saw the darkness bow to Him! I saw it! And I felt it!
My eyes would not stay open but I saw it all! I saw a battle being waged for me and the darkness that tried to take my mind, the darkness that tried to steal my blogging ministry by destroying the left frontal lobe of my brain, I saw it bow to Him! God wasn’t done with me!
Trusting God With Health Issues – Jesus in the Fire With Me
He carried me on His shoulders, just like the song by For King and Country! He never left me! And as people prayed for me, I felt Him even more!
That first 24 hours after having a stroke was not just a medical experience. No, far from it. It was a spiritual experience! Through closed eyes I saw spiritual warfare like I never have! I saw more with my eyes shut than I ever have with them open and I will never forget a second of it.
And I tell you, I am no one special! What He did for me, He WILL do for you! His presence there with me, He will be there for you too.
How to Trust God When Bad Things Happen – God Has a Plan and Purpose
If you want to know how to trust God when bad things happen, you have to realize God has a plan and a purpose and He will never leave us or forsake us.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” NIV
My faith is multiplied after this! He was there! And He is there for you too! He is there in the fire with you!
Are you going through life wondering how to trust God when bad things happen? The fact that you are reading a blog post from me instead of an obituary is a miracle in itself! The fact that you are reading a blog post from me at all 3 weeks later, considering it was my left frontal lobe that was destroyed…that is just nothing short of God’s grace and mercy and miracle working power. He is there working in your life and in your situation and in your marriage, your health, your job…wherever you need Him!
Strokes can happen to anyone! It is not just something that happens when you get old. There are many people of all ages who suffer strokes and it is important to be aware of the signs!
My hospital has a saying, “Time is brain!”. That means is as the stroke progresses, more tissue is lost. The more time that passes and the longs you wait, the more damage can be caused to the brain.
You should be aware of the signs of a stroke so you can help yourself or a loved one quickly! If you believe you or a loved one is having a stroke, look for the signs!
You can do that by remembering the acronym FAST! The THINK FAST stroke recognition method can save lives!
Wonder if You or a Loved One is Having a Stroke? Think FAST Stroke Recognition!
F – Face: Is the face drooping? Ask them to smile and see if the face seems symmetrical or if one side is drooping.
A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms out in front of them. Does one drift downward?
S- Speech: Ask them to repeat something simple. Does their speech seem slurred or just not right?
T – Time: If you see ANY of these symptoms (not all of them, ANY of them) call 911.
Songs Referenced in How to Trust God When Bad Things Happen:
“Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™