SIMPLE TRUTH: Living in the pit

Published 7:29 pm Thursday, September 20, 2012

By Charles Christmas

In my last article, “Into the Pit,” I summarized our painful and disappointing experiences as the result of my wife’s spinal cord injury and paralysis when her major surgery went wrong on Aug. 19, 2009.

Louise and I were faced with living in a pit. We were stunned, afraid, uncertain, fearful, depressed, resentful and lonely. We felt abandoned and she was in great physical pain. The pit was to continue long beyond the 62 consecutive days in the hospital.

As her husband, I was the responsible head of my wife and also her human umbrella of protection and care. Our two children lived 300 and 850 miles away, and both were employed breadwinners. Beyond the outstanding medical and hospital staff at each of the three facilities, I discovered that we were in need of two things for living in our pit.

First, we needed a limited few close, personal and committed friends. We had learned this from our Lord Jesus and from our previous pits. Jesus had his three: Peter, James and John. It was only to these that he laid bare the pit of his soul, saying, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay near and keep awake with me.” (Matthew 26:38) We had scores of caring, sympathetic friends. But we needed that limited few. God gave us three: two ladies, Arie and Betty, and one man, my closest friend, Ronnie. They were in the pit with us from the beginning and for the long haul. Their attitude was, “Whatever it takes, we are here. We’re willing and available, and it will be a pleasure to help. We are the Lord’s servants and your servants.” Better is a friend nearby than a brother (or other family member) far away.

So, whether it was washing, ironing, altering clothes, staying by my wife, mowing the grass, making sure we had a wheelchair ramp or running errands, each person was ready to meet our needs as much as humanly possible. It was certainly a lesser, yet true, happening: “God becoming flesh and dwelling among us (Louise and me.)”

The second thing we needed was a word from God. That word was not immediate in coming. At Lakeshore Rehab, during the two lowest days of my entire life, I went to a first floor meditation room alone with my Bible. I prayed, “God, I’ve got to have a word from you.” I traveled through Hebrews 11 where I thought I could get “a word.” Nothing spoke to me. I kept meditating in chapter 12, and God spoke to me through verses 5-15. Here is what my heavenly father said to me: “You two people are my children and I am your Father. These things are happening to you to teach you what you cannot learn any other way. These things are happening to you while I love you. They are happening to you for your own good, and I will use this to make the two of you more like me. I am planting seeds in you, which will produce righteousness and peace. Let my grace be stronger than your bitterness. You must put forth diligence and endurance in therapy.” In verses 12-13, God said, “Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees, make level paths for your feet and be not disabled but rather healed.”

I accepted these eight statements as our heavenly father’s special words for us. It was necessary for me to share these words with my darling wife gradually while she was in her deep pit at the time. This word would be what God would use to assure us, encourage and strengthen us and to increase our faith during the final three years of our life together.

So, through the help of close friends, and by seeking to rely upon a word from the Lord, we were made able to survive and begin to live in our pit.

Next week: “Out of the Pit.”

-Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His college appears each Thursday.