“In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
My husband and I have been very blessed during our married life. Although we’ve had some lean times when my husband was transitioning from one career to another, we have always been able to pay our bills and keep shoes on our childrens’ feet and a roof over our heads. Our children have, for the most part, been happy and healthy and stayed out of any serious trouble. As a matter of fact, they are currently thriving as young adults.
My father died of cancer at 80 years old several years back but lived a full and fruitful Christian life, impacting many for the kingdom and my mother is still living at 89 years old. My husband lost his mother at a young age to cancer, but his father is living a full and active life at 83 years old.
As far as my own life goes, I can say that any real difficulties I have had since my teenage years have been due to my own sin or wrong choices…I brought them on myself! But, we as a married couple have never had to face an unexpected tragedy or trial that seemed to come out of nowhere. I somehow knew that it was only a matter of time before the Lord would bring a test of faith to our marriage and life.
My husband is an athlete in every sense of the word. He is disciplined, strong, and competitive. Throughout our marriage he has always exercised, getting up at 5:30 in the morning most days to either swim, bike or run. He has participated in many triathlons over the years and has never been overweight or smoked.
A week or so before Christmas this year, my husband went in to see a friend of his who is a cardiologist about some unusual sensations he was feeling in his chest area at night. He says he wouldn’t even have gone in unless the doctor had been a longtime friend of his. His doctor friend set up a stress test for a couple days later and when the results came in they showed that something was amiss. The cardiologist then sent my husband for a CT of the arteries to determine what was wrong. Unbelievably, it showed a blockage of 70 percent in his right coronary artery! This was a shocking finding for those of us who knew Eric and his exercise habits and history.
The next day we were scheduled to leave for a ski vacation in Colorado. Our cardiologist gave us the ok to go as long as Eric took it easy…hard to do on a ski trip, I know. But Eric did take it easy and our son, who is an excellent skier, did the harder slopes by himself.
When we returned, the cardiologist set up a heart catheterization to confirm the extent of the blockage and to determine our course of action. We were a little nervous, but hopeful, thinking that the worst-case scenario would be that they would have to put in a stent to keep the artery open.
Well…as our cardiologist later told us, he had been surprised at every turn since Eric first came in to see him (given Eric’s age and fitness level), and the results of the heart cath were no different.The cath showed four different blocked arteries, three of them greater than 70 percent. The other, the left main artery, was 50 percent blocked. I later learned that a blockage in the left main artery is called “the widow-maker”…scary, huh?
My husband, who is 53 years old, is now scheduled for open heart surgery (a triple by-pass), in a few days. We never saw this coming. We are still in a state of shock at how our life has changed in the blink of an eye.
We had been living life, making plans, doing our thing, (see above verse) when suddenly the brakes were slammed on.
Even in the midst of it all, however, we have been counting our blessings. We are blessed that our only child still at home recently got her driver’s license, therefore, she is independent and I can focus on taking care of my husband’s physical and emotional needs. We are blessed that my husband’s business is strong and our finances are secure so that we may ride out this health crisis without too many financial worries. We are extremely blessed that my husband decided to go in and get checked before he had a heart attack which may have led to heart damage or death!
And these things we know: 1) Our God is in control, he will use this trial to grow our faith and make us more like him. 2) We can use this as an opportunity to live out our faith in front of those we know who are lost. 3) The God of peace and healing is there for us to comfort us and walk with us through this valley. 4) God has numbered our days on this earth and when our time is over, we can look forward to eternal life with him in heaven.
“I know, oh Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23 (NIV)