Have you ever felt as if you were running low on faith? There are times in my own life when it seems I need greater faith to receive an answer from God. Other times, I have faith so great, that it appears it would be possible for me to move a gargantuan mountain like the Matterhorn in Switzerland. I have a genetic connective tissue disorder that requires me to walk with a crutch and a brace. Although I have had a clubfoot for more than two decades, it has never stopped me from literally climbing mountains and crisscrossing cities. My dad and I have gone hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains and we have trekked through dozens of cities all around the world. Our record-breaking days have been eight and a half miles in Vienna, Austria, and nine miles in Bucharest, Romania. No matter the physical challenges I face, I have always been one to forge ahead, no matter what literal or figurative obstacles I may encounter.

On July 25, 2018, I encountered what would become an enormous roadblock on the road of life when I began experiencing an unusual type of pain in my leg. Discounting it as overexertion from our summer vacation, I tried to ignore the severe pain in my leg and foot. However, as I hobbled through pre-planning week at the school where I teach, I could sense the pain was getting worse. By the time classes began, it was all I could do to stand at the bathroom counter in the mornings to brush my teeth. The pain was so great; it caused my blood pressure and heart rate to reach dangerous levels. Just putting my foot on the floor was often so agonizing that it nearly took my breath away. Other times, the muscle cramps in my leg caused tears to flow from my eyes as my hands shook from the intensity of the pain.

On my first trip to the doctor, I received a prescription to treat possible nerve damage. Unfortunately, this medication did not improve my condition at all. As my pain worsened and a small lump on my leg began to enlarge, my family physician referred me to an orthopedic specialist. The orthopedic surgeon ordered a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test to investigate the problem. As I lay in the futuristic-looking apparatus that took more than three hundred internal pictures of my leg, I prayed continually that God would deliver me from the trial in which I found myself. Although I had complete faith He was with me, even in this sterile, cold environment, I am afraid my human flesh was a bit concerned. Unfortunately, the rest of the day resembled a downward spiral, which did nothing to alleviate my apprehension.

This particular day began when the alarm clock awakened my dad and me at 3:30 a.m. My appointment time was 6:30 a.m., at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, which is approximately one hundred miles from our home. As we left the hospital, planning to return in the afternoon for the consultation with the doctors concerning the MRI results, I received a call on my cell phone. Imagine my dismay when they told me to return for an impromptu blood test and ultrasound biopsy straight away. My mind was racing, for the only thing I could equate with the word biopsy was the dreaded C word. I silently prayed God would take away these fears and give me peace about this whole ordeal.

The next few hours were a blur of appointments and tests, culminating with the previously scheduled consultation with the doctors. As my dad and I sat in the examination room, waiting for the doctors, I think we both felt as if a dump truck had run us over. The events of the day had drained us both physically and mentally. When three doctors came in, instead of two, my anxiety level increased drastically. Although I cannot tell you all that they said, due to my inner struggle to keep myself together emotionally, I particularly recall the picture on the computer screen, which the orthopedic surgeon described as a soft tissue mass. In that instant, the so-called mass looked enormous. He gave us several possible scenarios, but we would not have confirmation of a diagnosis until the biopsy results were available sometime within the following two weeks. There is something very unnerving when a doctor asks if you want him to call with the results, even if it is something serious. Due to the travel time and distance involved, we opted for a phone call, even though he said one of the possibilities could be a very large cancerous, malignant tumor.

For the next week, my heart skipped a couple of beats every time the phone rang. My dad and I prayed, studied God’s Word, and sought the Lord’s wisdom in all of this. Still, the enemy tried to defeat us, placing all sorts of notions in our vivid imaginations. There were countless sleepless nights for both of us. Even with all of my trepidation, I knew God would be with us. I knew He would give us the strength to make it to the other side of this valley. The following Friday, when the caller ID read Mayo Clinic, my hand visibly shook as I answered the phone. I could hardly find a breath to say hello.

The doctor said the biopsy results were inconclusive. Considering the alternatives, I praised the Lord for this report, even though the doctor continued by saying that a computerized tomography (CT) scan and possibly an open biopsy were necessary. Two weeks went by before the CT scan appointment. Following the CT scan, I received a diagnosis. I had a pseudo aneurysm in my lower right leg, caused by an aneurysm in one of the arteries in my leg. One night following this phone call, I remember purposely looking in the mirror and pulling several strands of hair toward my face and kissing them, relieved to know God had spared me from enduring something much worse.

It was determined that surgery was required, but they were able to offer an interventional radiology procedure as opposed to open vascular surgery. Unfortunately, the first opening for a consultation with the doctor’s choice surgeon was December 3, 2018. As someone who had dealt with this excruciating pain for nearly three months, I could hardly fathom the idea of waiting another month and a half. My dad and I stressed to the doctor how the swelling and pain had increased, even over the course of the previous week. Thanks to my mathematician dad, we had actually been measuring the circumference of my leg and had objective evidence that it was increasing in size as well.

On the way home that afternoon, we received a call from the doctor’s nurse, letting us know they found another surgeon who could perform the procedure exactly one week later. My dad later discovered that this new surgeon was internationally renowned in his field of practice. That is just like God. He always knows best. On October 26, 2018, I found myself sitting in a waiting room, before the nurse escorted me to the preoperative area. I must admit, I was nervous. I diligently read my Bible, I had gone to the throne of grace on more than one occasion, and everything seemed to have fallen in place as if God was the One who had put the puzzle together in the first place.

Yet there I sat, repeatedly reading Psalm 103:3 (NLT), which says, “He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.” Although I knew God would heal me, I was worried. So what did I do? I called my daddy in the waiting room to ask him to pray with me over the phone. After he prayed with me, the nurse came to take me to the preoperative room, so I had to hang up the phone.

Soon I was lying on a hospital bed, complete with wires coming out of both arms, wearing one of those dreaded gowns that seem like a rookie tailor made a horrible mistake by forgoing a zipper in the back. The nurse asked me if I wanted my dad to wait in the preoperative area, which would double as the recovery room. Of course, I said, “Yes!” He walked right alongside me throughout this trial, helping me in so many ways, especially through prayer. I am so grateful to have such a loving father, who will seek the Lord on my behalf. As soon as my daddy sat down by my bedside, my anxiety slowly disappeared. Even at the age of thirty-seven, I still need my daddy.

Similar to the way my dad’s presence calmed some of my fears, my Heavenly Father’s presence is what brought about a complete change to my frame of mind. As I sat there, awaiting my procedure, I finally began directing my thoughts to my Savior instead of my surroundings. All of the sudden, I was completely calm as I began to live out the verse that says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6–7). In the midst of this trying circumstance, knowing I was bound for the operating room, I had peace that passes all understanding. I knew the Great Physician was healing me, even from that very moment.

As I lay flat on my back on the operating table for approximately three hours, there were times when I experienced some discomfort and even acute pain. In those difficult moments, God placed six simple words in my mind to bring me consolation: Jesus is my refuge and strength. He was the source of my comfort even in the midst of a very uncomfortable situation. God used the hands of an experienced surgeon to repair the damaged artery in my leg using twenty-five miniature coils. Yet the true healing came from Jesus Christ, for God’s Word says, “By his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). Divine healing can only come from our Heavenly Father, for He is our Healer. I praise Him for healing my body. God raised me to life when I was born. Once again, He has raised me up for His glory.

For nearly three months, I had mostly sat on our living room sofa, unable to do little more than walk to the kitchen or restroom. After much prayer and rest, there was some very slow, but gradual improvement. I returned to teaching school in early September, even before I was better, knowing my students needed a consistent teacher. The increased level of activity slowed my progress, causing several setbacks. Eventually, the pain, cramps, and swelling increased to the point where I had to stay home on medical leave. Nonetheless, God continued to work on my behalf. Following my surgery, I only experienced a small amount of discomfort. What a blessing not to be writhing in pain after such a long struggle with this battle. Although sitting on my living room sofa for two weeks following the surgery was quite monotonous, it was a joy to know I was on the road to recovery!

Reflecting back on this lengthy health battle, I can see how the enemy sought to harm me, both physically and spiritually. But I echo the words of Joseph, who said to his brothers, “‘You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done’” (Gen. 50:20). Satan may have attempted to destroy me, but God will always work things together for my good (Rom. 8:28). Even in the darkest days of this trial, I knew no weapon formed against me would prosper (Isa. 54:17). I had full confidence that God would complete the work He started and I would be victorious.

Inevitably, there were times I became discouraged, especially when I saw little progress in my recovery. I wondered if I would ever be able to get back to even doing simple things like sweeping the floor, much less setting out for mission trips with my dad. Still, I held on to the words of Psalm 40:1: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.” There are times in life when it will be difficult to wait on God. There will also be times when it will be hard even to have faith. Yet this is when our faith needs to be stronger than ever. We must cling to the hope we have in Jesus Christ, believing He will see us through. Even though my faith may have wavered, I knew God would bring me through this trial, so I could be more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:37). God has brought me out of the most violent valleys and helped me forge raging rivers. He will do the same for you. God will always remain faithful.

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