This Easter Sunday seems to be one of the most important in my life. It was a goal for me to be home from the NIH before Easter to enjoy the annual food-fest back home in Baton Rouge.
But there was something more in it for me this Easter.
Those who know me may know that I’m not the most religious guy. I have read the entire bible, and the New Testament twice, as well as several other theological books to really find my faith. I’m a confirmed Methodist, but haven’t been to church in years.
After my diagnosis, I approached this with my scientific mind. I hoped medicine and my own body, along with my efforts, would take care of me. I didn’t go through phases of denial, anger, bargaining, etc. I just told myself, “I’m going to battle through this.”
And that worked for me until I became septic on my return to Baton Rouge the first time.
I was in acute renal failure and liver failure, along with a very painful rectal abscess. When the doctor tells you, “You are not day-to-day now, you’re hour-to-hour,” things change quickly in your head.
As I lay in the hospital in extreme pain, I found myself fighting for my life. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to do this alone.
I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ, who gives me the strength and power. Philippians 4:13.
Sure, I had lots of people telling me they were praying for me. I had entire congregations of several churches praying for me. People who didn’t even know me were praying for me. I was even blessed by the priest at the OLOL hospital with a relic of Father Seelos, a 19th century priest from New Orleans. It was quite humbling to have all those prayers coming my way.
I had my “spiritual leader”: brother-in-law Kevin, often leading my prayer efforts bedside and on the phone. I told him specifically what I needed that day. One day it was to reduce my pain; another to reduce my creatinine levels; the next to help my liver function.
Amazingly, the prayers were answered. Both my kidney and liver function improved every day. It took a little while longer for my pain to come down, though!
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:5-6.
I was amazed and told Kevin about my internal conflict. He explained to me the different between your heart and mind. “You believe in Jesus with your heart.” It’s about faith: belief that something will happen. That doesn’t come from your mind. Your mind has to ‘see it to believe it.’ You have to be able to separate the mind and the heart. Prayer and faith come from the heart, not the mind.
When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow…for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. James 1:3-4.
That’s what I had been looking for.
Since then, I’ve prayed every day. I end my prayers as always with “In Jesus’ name I pray”. This Easter weekend again reminded me of why we pray in His name as Christians.
As I watched the end of the History Channel’s “The Bible”, I was reminded of the Passion of Christ and the pain He went through for us.
If you do right and suffer for it, and are patient beneath the blows, God is well pleased. This suffering is all part of the work God has given you. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. 1 Peter 2:20-22.
I have always believed that everything happens for a reason. That reason is not always evident immediately, but it will be. It’s part of God’s plan.
For example, last year, we brought the family to Disney World for Easter holidays. I got airline tickets using my reward miles for the entire family (500,000 miles). The night before the trip, the airline canceled our flight. We ended up driving to Disney. While I was angry and disappointed at the time, I had this feeling that I’d end up needing those miles for something else down the road. Sure enough, I now use those miles to fly Angela to and from Bethesda.
I’m so thankful for all the friends and family that have continued to offer their prayers and help. And thankful to God for all He’s done in helping me through the toughest time in my life.
Remember: We’re having our blood drive and bone marrow donor drive THIS SATURDAY April 26 at United Blood Center at 8234 One Calais Drive from 8AM to 2PM. (Just off Essen and I-10). For more details, or for monetary donations for those who can’t come, visit our “Be The Match” webpage.