In the four days since my last post on Mary’s status there have been a number of positive developments.
First, the bleeding from a secondary wound created during Mary’s open heart surgery on November 1 has now almost totally ended. That’s a huge relief. Second, she has been taken off Coumadin, the anticoagulant that she was put on because of some early-on bouts with afib (her heart reverted to sinus rhythm over ten days ago). Third, because she is no longer taking Coumadin there is no reason for her INR to be checked, so the visiting nurse service has now also been discontinued. And finally, she has been trying a new sleeping arrangement which seems to be significantly reducing her discomfort from back pain during the night.
These are all welcome steps in the right direction as we approach the three-week mark since her surgery this coming Thursday. So much for which we’ll be thankful to God on that special day.
A determinative five-week checkup with the surgeon himself is now scheduled for December 5 in Bangor. After six weeks, many aortic valve replacement patients can drive again and return to a more normal routine. And after six weeks Vin Upham, the retired minister from NY who has volunteered his time to be our caregiver, will be heading home. So we’re now just two days short of being halfway to that big milestone.
We know that many of you have been praying for us, for Vin (and his wife Charlene in NY) and, more specifically and recently, for Mary’s wounds to heal. We very much appreciate that. Prayer requires discipline and work and selflessness. But while we appreciate your prayers, we are giving all the glory to God, not you, for these positive developments. At the same time we are also fully aware that, in His great providential plan for this world, not everyone (including us) is always going to be delivered from adversity even though many people may be praying fervently for such deliverance. Mary and I know that our own circumstances may change tomorrow, and that we must somehow try to be resolved to give God glory even in times of adversity. Job once said, “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” (Job 2:10 HCSB) That was a rhetorical question. The implied answer was clearly, “No way. We can ask. He will determine. We must accept.”
One day during Mary’s hospitalization I met a man in the cafeteria whose wife was not doing well at all. In fact, he said that her heart was only functioning at 5% capacity and that, frankly, her life was in the balance. I prayed with him that God would intervene if that might be within the framework of His greater will. That very evening I happened to see this man again. He was full of joy. He said that her condition had suddenly dramatically reversed and that they were now even talking about the possibility of her going home within a few days. With much enthusiasm he exclaimed, “There’s real power in prayer.” I said, “No. I need to correct you. There’s real power with God. Our prayers might often serve to release His power. But we need to credit God, not our prayers, for the change in your wife’s condition today. I know what you mean, but words matter, and God is not willing to share his glory with any other person, being, effort, or thing (Isaiah 42:8) — not even with human prayer power. So, no — prayer doesn’t change things. Our prayers may play a supportive role, but it’s God who changes things. All glory to Him.”
The poor fellow hadn’t been expecting a sermon at that point, but he was so happy that things had turned around for his wife that he just nodded agreement with all that I had said, and he was smiling widely the last time I saw him.
Meanwhile, back on Homer Hill in Monson, Maine, we’re bracing for what forecasters are warning may be the coldest Thanksgiving on record in this region. Temps are to top out in the low single numbers. But Vin will have a warm fire burning in the wood stove. And he says that he is planning a meal of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Already today (Tuesday) he’s working on a cherry pie (my favorite) which he has warned will be totally off limits until Thanksgiving Day. What he doesn’t know is that I’m seriously considering setting my alarm for 12:01 AM on Thursday morning.
Thanks for reading along once again.
Daryl E. Witmer