When I prepared a series of Advent devotionals on the theme of “Immanuel – God With Us” in December, I never had any idea how applicable they would soon become in my own life.
As I mentioned in one of the posts, I faced spinal surgery for a herniated disc on December 9. The surgery did not go well. The surgeon planned on a 1.5 hour procedure and a one-night stay in the hospital. However, when he got in there, he discovered the disc had exploded leaving bone fragments and scar tissue everywhere he turned. He worked with great skill for four hours trying to remove the problem areas, but then he nicked the dura of the spinal membrane, and everything came to a screeching halt. To avoid possible paralysis, I had to lie for three days on my back without moving. After six days in the hospital, I was allowed to return home.
If ever I needed assurance of “God With Me,” it was during those three days as I lay there staring at a white ceiling. All the things I had brought with me to distract me from pain (crosswords, Yahtzee, playing cards, etc.) were impossible to use while lying flat on my back. Can you imagine throwing dice or trying to deal cards in the air? Even crosswords were difficult when the pen was writing upside-down. But God remained at my side. During sleepless nights I was able to review scripture portions from memory, to sing hymns, to pray. At one low point, a kind woman delivered my meal tray (bouillon and tea for the third day in a row), noticed my tears, and prayed for me. Immanuel. God with me.
Now I face a third spinal surgery in April, a much more extensive procedure that will involve two surgeons and seven hours in the OR. The thought of having to start physical therapy and learn to walk for a third time is daunting, but the confidence that God will be at my side every step of the way gives me hope. He walks with you too, every day, every hour.