When Doctors Are Stumped

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
When doctors are stumped

There are times when we struggle because our lifestyle has been inconvenienced, and there are times when things get so bad that we struggle to make it through the day. My family has experienced the latter throughout 2008.

In July of 2007, my wife had brain surgery for Chiari I Malformation, a congenital problem that hinders the flow of spinal fluid and therefore causes all sorts of physical problems including numbness in her limbs and balance problems, difficulty completing and verbalizing her thoughts, and bad headaches. The surgery was a success, and her symptoms were relieved. Unfortunately Molly's symptoms came back one year later, this July.

This summer, I watched my wife go from very healthy and active to riddled full-blown Chiari symptoms again. Her neurosurgeon confirmed that she needed another round of brain surgery this autumn. Several weeks after the operation, not only had her symptoms not been relieved, but she was worse. She spent nearly four weeks of recovery bedridden, and the doctors are stumped.

Despite all that's happening right now, God has blessed us in many ways. Our church family and friends in the community have done much more than we could dream. They even organized a benefit dinner to help us financially. The massive turnout and support has proved that my wife is beloved by many. As I write this a few days after the benefit dinner, I'm reflecting on what God has done in my life and relationships, and I am struck by a few professional relationships that have been a blessing.

Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." In our adversity, I have discovered how much my "brothers" in Christ love me. Let me offer three examples.

I have wonderful young leaders and coworkers in my church. One of their families watched our kids while Molly was in surgery and recovery for a few days. When Molly's recovery wasn't going well, and they discovered my stress, another leader came to me and said, "If you need time off, don't worry about our church and Sundays. We'll make it work." These coworkers in the Gospel were willing, whatever the cost, to take care of our family and responsibilities.

Another example is my best friend, Joe, who is a pastor. He and his church have been praying for Molly and our family consistently for the past months. There is no question that their devotion to pray has been a part of our motivation to trust God in all circumstances. After we came home from the surgery, Joe brought three large coolers full of frozen meals prepared by his church. He is a great friend in adversity, indeed.

Let me throw out one last example, one that has surprised me. My blog is basically about my work, though it contains other elements as well. I try to point people to good resources for the benefit of the Church. Over the last several weeks, while I have blogged on my wife's condition, surgery, and recovery, I have received dozens and dozens of emails and online messages from people around the world offering words of encouragement, Scripture, prayers, and love. Some of these I will never meet in this life. While cultural critics debate the value of blogs, I have found a network of professional friends through mine that have supported us in prayer.

I thank God for these brothers "born for adversity." They have been God's words and works of great blessing to us in the most painful and frustrating time of our lives. May God receive the glory for what he has done.